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Live Long and Prosper - and the Death of the Fighter

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Live Long and Prosper - and the Death of the Fighter

Old 29th Feb 2020, 20:31
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Live Long and Prosper - and the Death of the Fighter

Musk being provocative.....

https://www.defensenews.com/digital-...ets-is-ending/

SpaceX’s founder tells US Air Force the era of fighter jets is ending
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Old 29th Feb 2020, 21:19
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What, again?
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Old 29th Feb 2020, 21:24
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They only have to be right once......
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Old 29th Feb 2020, 22:53
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Duncan Sandys, Defence Minister UK 1957.
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Old 1st Mar 2020, 01:26
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Sunken glandys

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Old 1st Mar 2020, 02:14
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If the 'loyal wingman' concept has any merit, Musk is probably right.
The drone needs to be able to at least keep up with the manned fighter, so the pilot is baggage apart from the tactical decision making. The latter is driven by the sensor inputs, which can certainly be handled by an AI.
There is a separate thread highlighting the impact of drones on operations is Syria here: Here it comes: Syria
It is quite illuminating and the impact of the mainstream military technology now available to Turkey,. Presumably a premier military technology power can do considerably better.
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Old 1st Mar 2020, 08:34
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Originally Posted by etudiant View Post
the pilot is baggage apart from the tactical decision making. The latter is driven by the sensor inputs, which can certainly be handled by an AI.
This is the key insight. We are well-used to hearing the argument for ‘sensor fusion’, which is that there is too much information coming into a F-35 for the single pilot to interpret it all, so a computer will do the processing needed to present a simple, clear air picture: red track bad, blue track good, yellow track unknown. While this is not quite the case yet, it is getting there. And it is one of the factors behind the huge expense of the aircraft.

The original rationale for sensor fusion was being able to dispense with a second crew member, and of course this was wholly acceptable to the pilot-dominated Air Force hierarchies. However, as AI and automated flight improve, there will eventually come a point when the only argument for retaining a pilot is the societally-driven need to keep a human in the loop on ethical decisions like employing weapons (on the reasonable assumption that electronic warfare will make beyond-line-of-sight remote control too unreliable). But, when fully implemented, sensor fusion will reduce the fighter pilot’s ethical input to ‘shooting red tracks OK, shooting other tracks bad’: and of course it will be a computer taking the in-cockpit decisions over which tracks to colour red. The remaining step (to actually shoot at them) is not such a big ethical leap as opponents of AI would like people to think.

I should add that this isn’t an endorsement of AI in all corners of the military need. Robust line-of-sight datalinks and/or an alternative cheap manned platform would offer an alternative for peacetime home air defence operations, allowing AI elements to be focussed on the war fighting requirement, where the need to avoid human losses is most pressing and the ‘societal ethics’ barrier is likely to be marginally lower. And the relatively uncluttered air battle space makes it easier to foresee autonomous combat aircraft than (for instance) autonomous robot soldiers conducting house-to-house urban clearance operations with civilians present.

So I’m worried that we are doing Tempest 5-10 years too early, and thus including a cockpit, when the defining characteristic of 6th gen may well be the lack of a pilot. And this is exactly the kind of argument I think Dominic Cummings will raise during the UK’s forthcoming Integrated Review. The “start it now to keep BAES Warton busy after Typhoon” argument will cut little ice with him, one suspects.

Now, if the pilots had not pushed so hard for expensive/complex sensor fusion and had instead retained a single WSO as the crew of an automatically-piloted combat aircraft, there would not now be such an obvious path to a completely unmanned platform. Just saying... and I am a pilot. (Have I just hit on the answer to the MFTS debacle: stop training pilots to fly?!)

Last edited by Easy Street; 1st Mar 2020 at 13:14.
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Old 1st Mar 2020, 09:49
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Surely the pilot, or platform operator, doesn't have to be in the cockpit? Remote operating of airborne weapon systems is now routine. The human can still be in the loop, just not on board.
Visual ID? Camera turret slaved to VR headset and you've got it, at ranges beyond human capabilities. Likewise the operating envelope could be increased beyond the frailties of the human. We could have people operating these things who've got the mental capacity to fly and fight but wouldn't have the physical capability to fly a fighter. Don't suppose happy hour would be the same though..................................
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Old 1st Mar 2020, 10:49
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The mass of data that is sent to and from simple recce drones, is simply incredible. To transfer the hundreds or thousands of more data volume to replace the 'man in the cockpit' to a pilot in a bunker/office/bar, without losing line of sight during manouvering, in a timely manner without undue lag - I just don't know if its yet possible. Then in times of jamming, or lost signal, the aircraft is likely to return home, leading to a loss of mission - may cost more lives.

In many scenarios the Stick Monkey being on the scene in a much simpler aircraft can achieve a lot more at a much cheaper cost.
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Old 1st Mar 2020, 10:58
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Originally Posted by Captain Radar.... View Post
Surely the pilot, or platform operator, doesn't have to be in the cockpit? Remote operating of airborne weapon systems is now routine. The human can still be in the loop, just not on board.
Remote operation is indeed routine, but only in the type of operating environments we’ve enjoyed over the past 20 years. It is already bandwidth-limited (a problem if you want remote video and/or large numbers of aircraft operating simultaneously) but the bigger problem in a full-scale war fighting scenario will be electronic warfare. A key advantage of air platforms over surface-based air defences is that they can move over hostile territory, and that means that they will be closer to the enemy’s jammers than to the friendly datalink transmitters. That’s a losing equation in terms of transmission power requirements unless you build a complex (and fragile/vulnerable/bandwidth-limited) network of air, surface and space relays: the so-called ‘combat cloud’. Short-range line-of-sight directional datalinks can probably avoid the worst of the effects, but combined with the increasing vulnerability of SATCOM to space-based interference, remote control is (IMHO) going to remain limited in its applicability.

Last edited by Easy Street; 1st Mar 2020 at 11:46.
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Old 1st Mar 2020, 12:26
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Air combat was picked because it is the more clear cut arena for AI - no messy civilians about - think of it as an attack dog let off the leash with the order kill!

Able to pull high-G, if purposely built far smaller, or with greater range, as all the human support rims, cockpit, canopy etc are rendered obsolete - and with an AI pilot which is recomputing every millisecond and where a combat may only takes seconds which to a pilot is just a blur.....

https://magazine.uc.edu/editors_pick...res/alpha.html
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Old 1st Mar 2020, 18:32
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And no relief tube required.
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Old 2nd Mar 2020, 07:35
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https://www.darpa.mil/news-events/2019-10-21


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Old 2nd Mar 2020, 17:21
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https://www.dailypost.co.uk/news/nor...drone-17847201

just sayin.
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Old 2nd Mar 2020, 18:14
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Being a pilot maybe I am biased but I am always suspicious when somebody says the days of the manned fighter are over, or driverless cars will be taking over, or my house is going to be completely networked and do everything for me. Technology is one of our strengths in the west but at the same time is our biggest weakness, if we rely on it completely we will be pretty screwed when it is denied to us (as it will be because any enemy worth their salt will know what our critical nodes are). How well will F35 work when ALIS is denied? I am sure automation, AI etc. will play a huge part in our future both military and civilian but it is worth considering why we like it; it makes our life easier and is good for business (isn't it Mr Musk) but it is not always the best solution, indeed some think we may have reached peak technology. I think there will always be a requirement for a squaddie with a bayonet or a fighter with a pilot in capable of operating outside the network when the crap really hits the fan.

Anyway, we cant even provide hot water in the mess at the moment so providing secure networked pilotless air systems may be a way off.
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Old 3rd Mar 2020, 01:19
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Originally Posted by SOX80 View Post
Technology is one of our strengths in the west but at the same time is our biggest weakness
Yep - just try buying something at the mall when the internet is down and the banking systems aren't talking.
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Old 3rd Mar 2020, 09:49
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Sure it's not possible to jam the signal to and from drones?

The sun can corrupt a signal between a sattelite and a disc on the ground, if they're in a straight line (something experiences for a short while at noon every year up north where the sattelites are "low on the horizon")

So with the right equipment to detect the drones, disrupting the signal should be possible as well.... question is, who gets there first? And then you'd need someone on board again...

And I honestly don't believe jamming and corrupting encrypted radio signals cannot be done... Finding the frequencies may be a bit harder, but that kind of equipment have existed for years as well, mostly for intercepting radio communication though.

Radio frequence interference is already making using GNSS in some parts of the world "harder"...
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Old 5th Mar 2020, 01:46
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A good analysis of Musk's claim.

https://www.popularmechanics.com/mil...hter-jet-dead/
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Old 5th Mar 2020, 02:48
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I think Maverick has the best response to Mr Musk.
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Old 5th Mar 2020, 08:24
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Seconded Mav...
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