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The "Real Aerospace" Thread 
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Post Re: The "Real Spacecraft" Thread
Nemo wrote:
Well, technically, the component bolts and nuts and pannels only weigh in at ounces to pounds each, why use nine tons! Thats too big! There is a cost associated with building in situ versus doing it prefab under controlled conditions.
There is a cost associated with everything. With SLS, that cost is $40B development, plus $5B per year for running LC-39. And the political impossibility of replacing it with anything else any time soon due to the sunk cost fallicy. And that's just for the 70 ton version, which isn't lunar capable, and only 20 tons more capable than Falcon 9H.

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Every time you have to launch a new piece, every time you have to put those pieces together in space wearing a suit,
Stop right there. Salyut, Mir, and the russian, european, japanese and spaceX cargo capsules all feature automatic docking. You can build en entire spacestation this way without a single space walk. Mir was in fact built that way. The reason ISS wasn't was because NASA required a large amount of it had to be launched as dump-payloads via the shuttle, as opposed to russian style self assembally modules, which can be launched from medium-heavy rocket. They needed the station to justify the shuttle, otherwise the shuttle would have served no purpose.

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Larger / more massive constructions will have capability and redundancy smaller units do not.
Not true. Larger constructs CAN have greater redundancy, but almost certainly will not, because useful redundancy tend to be too heavy.

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Assume for a minute the same failure rate held true today.
Begging the question. Apollo failures have as much bearing on modern spaceflight as the BAC comet failures have on modern airliners. Quite frankly, if any group of engineers can't do better than 50/50 chance of survival, then either they are massively incompetent, or the mission should be scrubbed until the odds significantly improve.

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Skylab was built on the ground and launched as one piece, with SL-2 performing some repairs to make it functional. How much time and how many cost over runs were involved in building the iss again?
Because the whole purpose of ISS' existance was to justify the space shuttle (which meant the space shuttle had to be essential to its construction) which is a problem because the shuttle is made from arse and failure. NASA was also never quite sure, and still isn't quite sure, what the ISS is for; which is reflected in a very long string of redesigns and its jack-of-all-trades-master-of-none nature.

Arioch wrote:
I don't know if you followed the assembly of the ISS, which was built ~20 tonnes at a time, but it took 13 years and was a bit of a mess.
Well I can guess from that question that you didn't follow the development of the station that took a hell of a lot longer than that, during which time the russians built a sx module station with out encountering any of the assembally problems the americans did. The vast majority of the problem experienced during ISS construction were home-goals, though in fairness some of them were deliberate and quasi-justified. "We do these things not because they are easy, but because they are hard," so on and so forth.They wanted to spend a lot of time outside practising orking in space, so they designed construction so they'd need to.

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Assembling things in orbit is difficult and expensive and fraught with problems.
I'm not talking about nut and bolt work in freefall. I'm talking about automated docking, fuel transfer, and robotics, backed up by a proper support framework.


Thu Apr 18, 2013 5:35 pm
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Post Re: The "Real Spacecraft" Thread
Only 20 tons more capable? The entire Apollo service module weighed 27. This allows for much more equipment and much higher Delta V figures out of single launches.

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Not true. Larger constructs CAN have greater redundancy, but almost certainly will not, because useful redundancy tend to be too heavy.


So they wont except for when they do, and you skipped capacity altogether. And berated the entire Apollo engineering team by knocking the 50/50 shot of surviving a disaster -Apollos 1 and 13, then ignored the series of concessions I made to differing engineering methods while looking at different success/failure rates and what they would mean. The true cost here is not being factored only in dollars, but also in failures. More missions is more opportunities for loss. With government sponsored space flight, the funding is wholly dependent on the will of the people to continue, to press on. Given a failure rate comparable to the shuttle the 8 missions required in the example, based on a specific complaint you made about the lunar lander, would lead to an 11.5% chance of losing one ship and all souls. We could use the Russian Proton rocket if youd like, it is the longest serving orbital delivery vehicle. 380 launches and 40 failures, 11% failure rate per mission over all. Ok maybe not. Well, its been in service since the start of the space age, things have improved, lets just use the latest block, the Proton-M. 68 launches 2 failures, 2.9% per mission which is nearly twice that of the shuttle. Need to find soyuz failure rate, I know its low.

Further, take the same auto docking methods used for Mir and apply that to Skylab. You can run fewer missions to setup a comparable skylab, or run the same number of missions and get a more capable skylab.


Everyone in the game, including SpaceX, wants better lifting capacity. Saying it should be done cost effectively is not an issue, saying that more smaller launches is superior to fewer larger launches... you run into issues.


Thu Apr 18, 2013 9:19 pm
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Post Re: The "Real Spacecraft" Thread
anticarrot wrote:
Unfortunately Saturn V and SLS are also very silly rockets. The former was built to win a race (very well built as it happens, but it's still a silly optimisation metric)
I've also read that it's still (even accounting for inflation) the cheapest-per-pound launch system that humanity has ever had (that might have just been for the heavy-lift market, I understand that structural design lets larger rockets dedicate a larger mass fraction to fuel, so I'd still buy into it).

Certainly cheaper than the shuttle.

anticarrot wrote:
There are many ways to give NASA more capability, but almost none of them require the LC-39 launch complex that those 20,000 jobs revolve around.
A rebuild might be nice, but it's just about the best location in America for launches (certainly Jarvis Island, and maybe some of the others beat it, but they aren't part of the continental US), it's already granted access to a launch window, it already has pads suitable for very large payloads, it has a delivery road suitable for very large loads, and it has an assembly complex suitable for very large loads.

All in all, the LC-39 site is a keeper. It might be nice to tear most things down and rebuild with better facility designs, but that's it.

Mikk wrote:
(talking about SpaceX)Considering how safety concious (despite driving perhaps the most competitive launch price for a new rocket family yet (that I've been able to find anyway)) that particular rocket manufacturer is, betting on catastrophic failure on their next flight doesn't seem like the good choice.
I don't know, with their previous history it's possible that they'll have some sort of launch failure. What I wouldn't count on is a failure to learn from any failures that they might (or might not) have. They've shown pretty well that they aren't stupid.

Mikk wrote:
As for the usefulness of resurrecting Saturn technology? Well, those things weren't engineered to be cheap either.
And yet the shuttle still managed to be more expensive. Good job NASA!

Mikk wrote:
Whether we believe them or not, SpaceX is claiming to be on the crusade to develop cheap, safe, marinized and reusable (Merlin 1C or 1D (I forget which) have been claimed to be useful for up to 20 launch test burns) launch vehicles, and re-entry cargo return vehicles. NASA certainly seems to be buying their sales pitch.
They're probably pretty serious. There's potentially a good amount of money to be made in space launches, especially if what I've read about the cost actually being dominated by launcher costs is true.

Mikk wrote:
Orion crew capsule is probably going to beat the DragonRider to the first manned flights tho. We'll have to wait and see how well the ideas for Dragon-derived robotic missions other than cargo-ferry will work out as well.
If they can launch the Orion capsule then it won't be such a big deal, since the "big" market for manned Dragons will presumably only come with the commercial space travel market, which is still a little ways off.

anticarrot wrote:
A launch vehicle should be designed to put stuff into orbit as cheaply and reliably as possibly. The SLS was required to use components from the shuttle; a launch system characterised by it's expense and unreliability. There is a reason it is nicknamed the Senate Launch System.
Not entirely a reasonable complaint. One of the bigger problems with the shuttle was the requirement that it support use for polar orbits. If not for the extra weight required to support that it might have been very successful, and even less accident-prone. I've heard that was the only reason why it needed those ceramic tiles, too.

anticarrot wrote:
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If you want to put large payloads in orbit, then you need some kind of reliable, low-cost heavy lift rocket.
This is an error. Large and heavy are not the same thing. Size pre deployment and post deployment can also very by an order of magnitude. But beyond that... What payload are you thinking of that cannot be broken down into 50 or 30 ton pieces? And that's a question even NASA can't answer.
Probably volatiles for the forever-desired Mars mission. It's cheaper to launch them in as large a mass as you can, since that allows you to use the least possible container mass. You can divide it up into more containers, but then you're only increasing the mass that you have to transport into orbit.

anticarrot wrote:
Here's a challenge. Sit down and do the maths and work out how much useful payload your choice of upper stage can softland on the moon from lunar orbit. It'll be far in excess of NASA's severely self-censored dreams. We don't need custom hardware for every single application. One patch of vacuum is completely identical to another patch as far as a rocket engine is concerned.
Actually, I wouldn't want to use an upper stage for a moon landing unless I'd had a hover-test demonstration. Balancing on top of the rocket like that is potentially a very touchy operation, so you want to be certain that the rocket itself can handle it.

Beyond that, yeah, that's a stupid complaint. If it can't be launched by your current rockets then redesign it to be assembled in orbit at the ISS from multiple pieces. You were intending these to be in-space replenish so that we wouldn't have to keep launching them, right NASA? Oh? Well, never mind.

anticarrot wrote:
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Neither a spaceplane nor a DC-Y could fulfill this role.
The DC-Y wouldn't need to launch a lunar lander. The DC-Y could BE a lunar lander (with 30 tons of cargo) via direct-return, aerobreaking and an orbital fuel depot. That would take about 40 launches (mostly for fuel) which wouldn't be a particular problem for DC-I if it functioned as advertised.
I'd personally want to strip extra bits off, and ONLY use it as a moon lander/launcher, but that's just pedantry (I think that's how it's spelled...).

anticarrot wrote:
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It's hard to build space stations or interplanetary exploration vehicles 9 tonnes at a time.
Explain please, with examples. Because we build EVERYTHING ELSE HUMANKIND HAS EVER USED out of pieces smaller than 9 tonnes. Sorry, but this claim really don't hold water, and it's immensely frustrating to see it repeated over and over again.
In essence, if you can launch the whole thing at once then it's as easy as it can be. If you just have to fill it's tanks after it's up, that's just about as good. The more work you have to do in space to make it usable, the worse. Thus, heavy-launch rockets are better for the "exciting" jobs because you can do more work with less effort.

Once we get space-based construction going this won't be important any more, but we don't actually have that stuff yet.


Thu Apr 18, 2013 10:32 pm
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Post Re: The "Real Spacecraft" Thread
Nemo wrote:
Only 20 tons more capable? The entire Apollo service module weighed 27. This allows for much more equipment and much higher Delta V figures out of single launches.
Not true. DeltaV is dependent on technology and mass, not just mass. 50 tons and SEP gives you better mission performance than 70 tons and chemical rockets.

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So they wont except for when they do, and you skipped capacity altogether. And berated the entire Apollo engineering team by knocking the 50/50 shot of surviving a disaster
Okay, you're starting to blurr your topics together. In order:
1) Imagine two capsules. One twice as big as the other. Both get hit in the heatshield by an equal size and shape meteor. The crew survive intact in both cases, but can't reenter. Being twice as big and twice as heavy does not save the larger capsule. Useful redundancy almost always masses too much to be considdered for traditional space missions.
2) That was your figure. I assumed you were refering to NASA's private estimate for Apollo 11's chances of surviving the mission a all. We are not in a race. National pride is not at stake. Such low odds should not be tollerated.
3) NASA engineers and contractors do and say some pretty stupid things sometimes. Pretty much the only reason they don't do it more often is because the politicians who hold the purse strings, and the managers who brown nose them, generally get there first.

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-Apollos 1 and 13, then ignored the series of concessions I made to differing engineering methods while looking at different success/failure rates and what they would mean.
Insisting that we've made no safety and reliability advances since the 1960s is not a consession.

If you want to talk about failure rate, let's look at the most important example: Soyuz. Nine soyuz varients have flown a total of 906 missions with 25 failures, for a 97.25% reliability rating.

If you want to talk about size of luna landing, you've already lost. And completely failed to understand my posts into the bargin. My complaint about Altair isn't that it's too big, it's that it's too small. Or rather it's useful cargo capacity is very small in comparison to its size. We can build much bigger or much more efficient by using refuelable upper stages. Much much better. The 300 ton lander described here would require twelve flights, none of which would require crew. BAsed on soyuz, there's a 30% chance one will fail, but since we're not flushing $90B down the toilet over the next decade, we can afford a few cargo failures, and since we're launching regularly, there will always be a new and shiney butterfly to distract and entertain the viewing public.

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We could use the Russian Proton rocket if youd like, it is the longest serving orbital delivery vehicle. 380 launches and 40 failures,[/quoote]See above. Your google fu needs practice. And since garbage in garbage out, your conclusions are flawed.

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Further, take the same auto docking methods used for Mir and apply that to Skylab. You can run fewer missions to setup a comparable skylab, or run the same number of missions and get a more capable skylab.
But if you have autodocking, why do you need to put things up in 70 ton pieces? Especially when doing it that way costs ten or twenty times more. If we were talking about something like SeaDragon, I might agree with you, but the LC-39 complex is a dinosaur. It's old and sick and really expensive, the refusal to abandon it is a millstone around NASA's neck. When you're talking billions of dollars, ten or twenty times more is not pocket change.

Predicted realworld costs for SLS based on launch rates (NOT including development costs):
Once per year: $5.5B
Twice per year: $3B
Three times a year: $2.2B
Six times a year: $1.3B
Worst case mass equivolent annual launch-costs for F9H are roughly $200M, $360M, $480M and $720M.

If we had infinite funding, or even one percent of US GDP as some space advocates would like, then sure, why not. Run SLS and F9H side by side. But we don't. Given NASA's current or predicted budget, the extra capacity offered by SLS, or even later more capable versions of the SLS, simply doesn't justify its cost. Not when the diference is that big. All the "Yes, but..." in the world won't change that.


Fri Apr 19, 2013 6:38 am
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Post Re: The "Real Spacecraft" Thread
Absalom wrote:
I've also read that it's still (even accounting for inflation) the cheapest-per-pound launch system that humanity has ever had
That pretty much my understand too. Apollo though was one of the most expensive manned spacecraft ever designed. There are many 'what might have been' designs for rationalisations of the two, of which the most famous is INT-21 which launched Skylab. Imagine something vaguely like an SASSTO with 9 engine S-II pop-up booster stage. That could have produced a fully reusable (wingless) shuttle back in 1975. :(

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A rebuild might be nice, but it's just about the best location in America for launches
Ah. To clarify... LC-39 is the big building where they build the shuttle, and the two (one functional now) launch pads, and support equipment. Kennedy Space Centre is the facility that contains more launch pads than just LC-39, and I agree it is the best place in the continental United States. Theoretically though, the equator is the best place to launch rockets, irrispective of where they're going. But within America, ther are many other places you can launch from. All you need to do it surround ourself with a few miles of farmland, a fence beyond that, and tell farmers there may be a handful of days when they're not allowed access to their crops. :P

Mikk wrote:
I don't know, with their previous history it's possible that they'll have some sort of launch failure. What I wouldn't count on is a failure to learn from any failures that they might (or might not) have. They've shown pretty well that they aren't stupid.
Major failure points are side booster seperation, and pretty much everything to do with the cross-feed system. I assume they'll be testing both systems into the ground, but yeah, something could still go wrong.

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Not entirely a reasonable complaint. One of the bigger problems with the shuttle was the requirement that it support use for polar orbits.
To be completely pedantic, the three things most directly responsable for the shuttle's 'failure' was the requirement to return to Vandenburg after a single polar orbit, to carry thirty ton spy satellites into orbit, and Nixon's decision not to spend money on a project his successor would claim credit for (when it become operational.) NASA should have stuck to its guns and come to a compromise to develop a proper shuttle over a longer period of time. But they didn't.

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Probably volatiles for the forever-desired Mars mission. It's cheaper to launch them in as large a mass as you can, since that allows you to use the least possible container mass.
Except it isn't. :P In real world terms, launch costs are strongly affected by development cost and launch facility cost. See the numbers in the post above. While big dumb boosters are theoretically cheaper, their over-sized launch sites can easily offset any such savings.

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Actually, I wouldn't want to use an upper stage for a moon landing unless I'd had a hover-test demonstration. Balancing on top of the rocket like that is potentially a very touchy operation, so you want to be certain that the rocket itself can handle it.
... Um, you realise that anytime the engine fires you're 'balancing on top of the rocket'? ;) Stability isn't the issue. A bigger bugbear is throttling capability. My 300ton linked above HAD to be that big, because the stock merlin engines have limited throttling, and by design it had to veigh slightly more on landing than the minimum stable thrust. Realistically, you'd want to use a custom built upper stage, modded for refueling, long term endurance, deep throtling, and a few other things.

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anticarrot wrote:
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Neither a spaceplane nor a DC-Y could fulfill this role.
The DC-Y wouldn't need to launch a lunar lander. The DC-Y could BE a lunar lander (with 30 tons of cargo) via direct-return, aerobreaking and an orbital fuel depot. That would take about 40 launches (mostly for fuel) which wouldn't be a particular problem for DC-I if it functioned as advertised.
I'd personally want to strip extra bits off, and ONLY use it as a moon lander/launcher, but that's just pedantry (I think that's how it's spelled...).
Tempting as that would be, you'd want to deorbit it every now and then for major servicing and repair.


Fri Apr 19, 2013 7:22 am
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Post Re: The "Real Spacecraft" Thread
anticarrot wrote:
Absalom wrote:
I've also read that it's still (even accounting for inflation) the cheapest-per-pound launch system that humanity has ever had
That pretty much my understand too. Apollo though was one of the most expensive manned spacecraft ever designed. There are many 'what might have been' designs for rationalisations of the two, of which the most famous is INT-21 which launched Skylab. Imagine something vaguely like an SASSTO with 9 engine S-II pop-up booster stage. That could have produced a fully reusable (wingless) shuttle back in 1975. :(
For that matter, if NASA had continued developing that lifting-body escape pod for the ISS from the 90s then THAT could have transitioned into (at least the crewed portion of) a proper shuttle.

Shoot, if anyone on this forum had access to a sufficient fraction of NASA's budget then we could probably manage our way to a usable one. Personally, I'd prefer a HTOL design in the form of a conventional aircraft layout (according to this, it's easier to adjust balance in them), with a drop tank (ala Lockheed Star Clipper), the drop tank itself being equipped with a jet engine and slew wing for a remote-controlled return flight (ala Baikal, though you could just throw the drop tank into the ocean as well). The flight profile would be roughly the same "get up there, and push the booster & payload out" one as SpaceShipOne/WhiteKnight, except that the WhiteKnight-analogue would only have a weak engine that might not even have enough power to keep it in the air; after all, it would just be for retrieving a mostly-empty fuel tank from a high altitude, so even if the engine can't do the job you haven't lost nearly as much as you could with some designs.

anticarrot wrote:
Quote:
anticarrot wrote:
The DC-Y wouldn't need to launch a lunar lander. The DC-Y could BE a lunar lander (with 30 tons of cargo) via direct-return, aerobreaking and an orbital fuel depot. That would take about 40 launches (mostly for fuel) which wouldn't be a particular problem for DC-I if it functioned as advertised.
I'd personally want to strip extra bits off, and ONLY use it as a moon lander/launcher, but that's just pedantry (I think that's how it's spelled...).
Tempting as that would be, you'd want to deorbit it every now and then for major servicing and repair.
You might, I'd want to keep the frame in orbit and just haul parts up to the ISS with the OTHER side of the launch system (I never said that the moon DC would be doing all of the work, and I personally believe in this version of "staging" ;) ).


Fri Apr 19, 2013 8:48 pm
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Post Re: The "Real Aerospace" Thread
The US Navy today conducted the first launch of a full-sized unmanned aircraft from a carrier today.

http://news.yahoo.com/u-launches-drone- ... 52636.html

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Post Re: The "Real Aerospace" Thread
Arioch wrote:
The US Navy today conducted the first launch of a full-sized unmanned aircraft from a carrier today.

http://news.yahoo.com/u-launches-drone- ... 52636.html


"Open the bomb bay doors, HAL."
"I'm sorry, Dave. I'm afraid I can't do that."

Americans in particular, as with most people, hate the idea that a machine can decide if a person will live or die, to that end I suspect these will be operated much the same as the MQ-9 Reapers. I suspect that for the time being kill strikes and orders will still be a purely human matter, at least until people are fairly comfortable with more autonomous drones. After such a time when targeting validity is good enough that the drone could reasonably decide for itself weather a bunch of kids with sticks are noncombatants or not, I think we will see human overwatch for a long time in coming. Still a bigger badder Reaper could be a good thing, they have proven effective in long range precision strikes.

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Tue May 14, 2013 11:26 pm
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Post Re: The "Real Aerospace" Thread
Even as drones become more autonomous, I think external rules will still require a human operator in the loop when it comes to weapons deployment. Which only makes sense; it's hard to imagine a situation in which you would want a drone to acquire and attack targets on its own without a human controller giving the okay. Such aircraft are still fairly expensive, so somebody is going to need to be watching them (even if it's only a single controller managing a whole fleet of drones) and waiting a few seconds for authorization to fire is not likely to be a serious problem.

My concern is more about the potential ability of technologically sophisticated opponents to jam, confuse, or hack an armed drone.

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Post Re: The "Real Aerospace" Thread
hi hi

The use of unmanned drones, and really the use of air strikes as part of peacekeeping operations at all, is a serious problem. It has been a little while since the United States has been on the receiving end of an occupying power, but a lot of people fought and died for due process. Blowing someone up and everyone around them because they look suspicious is certainly a noteworthy development in international justice.

But from a purely technical standpoint, using unmanned aerial vehicles as opposed to manned ones is really a no-brainer. They don't have to worry quite so much about things like fatigue or G-forces.


Wed May 15, 2013 12:49 pm
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Post Re: The "Real Aerospace" Thread
Charlie wrote:

After such a time when targeting validity is good enough that the drone could reasonably decide for itself weather a bunch of kids with sticks are noncombatants or not,


Well even human were not always good at deciding if what they saw were combatants (enemy) or not. I think we had more of our soldier killed by friendly fire than by the enemy itself (that also include used / defective submarine)


Wed May 15, 2013 2:16 pm
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Post Re: The "Real Aerospace" Thread
Karst45 wrote:
Well even human were not always good at deciding if what they saw were combatants (enemy) or not. I think we had more of our soldier killed by friendly fire than by the enemy itself (that also include used / defective submarine)

Friendly fire incidents (and collateral damage) will always happen regardless of who is making the decisions, as long as there is limited information on the battlefield, but I don't think they even come close to other kinds of casualties. (Unless you were referring to the Canadian military... in which case I suppose friendly fire is perhaps the only way to get killed. :D)

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Post Re: The "Real Aerospace" Thread
I didn't realize that he was Canadian until just now.


Wed May 15, 2013 5:52 pm
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Post Re: The "Real Aerospace" Thread
Arioch wrote:
My concern is more about the potential ability of technologically sophisticated opponents to jam, confuse, or hack an armed drone.
My understanding is that jamming the com-link at critical points in all current US combat drones initiates a "return to base" behavior. Which certainly does open up a potentially simple defensive tactic, but I believe that treaties normally provide a window to wrap up ongoing operations (otherwise any treaty signed while an urban battle was progressing would be almost certain to be invalidated before the combatants could withdraw), so you could simply locate your "last chance" zones in unpredictable areas. As for terrorists & other mobile targets, they're almost guaranteed to either not have jamming equipment active, or to not pose a major risk of collateral damage in the presence of a major control delay.

As for confusion, there's GPS (which gets us back to jamming), terrain following (likely radar, so jamming again), and maybe image recognition (what are they going to do, cover their trucks with E-Ink displays?) that can be played with right now, but everything else will have to wait for the technology to exist before it can be confused ;) .

As for hacking, it really shouldn't be a problem, but admittedly I've read somewhere that some of the mid-90s designs use sub-par (in this case, no) encryption on some of their data streams. The expensive stuff, fortunately, will surely be designed to resist Chinese hackers, and therefor have all allowable data streams encrypted (so, any flight beacons would be unencrypted, but beyond that...).


Wed May 15, 2013 8:13 pm
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Post Re: The "Real Aerospace" Thread
Arioch is right, final strike orders will human ones for a long time still. I often wonder weather it was movies that made people afraid of machines like that. ED-209, HAL 9000 and other robots come to mind. Are people naturally afraid of machines that can replace them or decide to remove them with force? Is it hard coded it us?

In regards to collateral damage, It doesn`t bother me in the slightest when a school, church or hospital is blown up, so far, far away. War is War, accidents happen and mistakes are made. People often say what if it was you that was blown up? I always say that it is not me. Moral values aside, as technologies progress the occurrence of friendly fire and miss strikes will be lessened.

I'd like to see far more drones of the future battlefields, at the very least it would be another set of eyes for the common soldier. I don`t think drones will ever replace the human element in war for a very long time.

Canadian Snipers have the second and third longest kill shots in the world, by a sniper.

As for hacking, I really don`t think it would be that easy for a military system to be hacked, even by a another military power. If it were so, it would have already been done. Further more, current drones are not based on a centralized system. As far as I know, they work the same as the E.O.D drones, each is slaved to a single computer system. Also, if it is possible to control the drones externally, you would only be able to control the battle ready drones in the air. At the moment, drones must be prepped the same as manned aircraft, on the ground by humans. I guess it is possible to fabricate the orders and authentication. Still the damage that say ten fully armed drones could do is less than a smuggled or homemade low yield nuclear explosive could do.

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Post Re: The "Real Aerospace" Thread
hi hi

Computers today certainly have the capability to function without a human pushing the button, but there are definitely practical and ethical concerns about that. There is a notion out there that people are inherently lazy, but in my experience, people also inherently desire self-determination. Many people want responsibility. They want to be the ones making decisions.

In regards to collateral damage, it is that double standard that makes this perpetual war possible in the first place. I often hear lots of different formulations of that timeless phrase. "War is war," "boys will be boys," or simply, "Life isn't fair," as if it were an excuse for what should have been, but through the unwillingness of others, never will. In a strictly practical sense though, people desire fairness. Employing sudden death without warning is a great way to garner yourself more enemies. History is filled with examples of empires that ended up shooting themselves in the foot because they figured they could treat their colonies however they wanted and not suffer any repercussions.

As for the technology itself though, I suspect that if the US Air Force didn't have such an enduring love affair with the F-22, drone fighter technology would be years ahead of where it is today. I worked on a civilian program that did image recognition and autonomous guidance programming back in 2005, and I can tell you that it is not a lack of technology holding them back.


Thu May 16, 2013 9:42 am
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Post Re: The "Real Aerospace" Thread
icekatze wrote:
As for the technology itself though, I suspect that if the US Air Force didn't have such an enduring love affair with the F-22, drone fighter technology would be years ahead of where it is today. I worked on a civilian program that did image recognition and autonomous guidance programming back in 2005, and I can tell you that it is not a lack of technology holding them back.

I personally don't think taking the pilot out of the fighter is a good thing, though I realize its inevitability. There really isn't a pressing need for better drone technology; in another limited war, the weapons we have work just fine, and in a serious war against a real opponent, drones will be of limited use. Indeed, a serious war is what I'm concerned about; I think we are getting too used to having total air superiority, too reliant on remote control and GPS technologies (a real opponent can knock satellites down with ease). A war against a real opponent could make us deeply regret terminating the F-22 production line; the F-35 is an inferior "budget" model that won't be operational for a long time.

I'm also concerned that the more we mechanize our warfare, the more detached we are likely to become from the horror and suffering that war causes. When we don't have any "skin in the game," war has the danger of becoming perpetual.

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Post Re: The "Real Aerospace" Thread
hi hi

Relying on GPS is a significant problem in a real war. US aircraft carriers used to have inertial navigation, but those got pulled out and replaced with GPS. (Although, in a real war, a nuclear exchange is possibly a bigger problem, but I'll sidestep that for the time being.) There may not be much need for drone fighters in today's limited war, but as a friend of mine who works in the aerospace industry used to say, "The pilot is the biggest design problem."

We have the capability to make totally self contained drones, drones that don't need to communicate with home or use GPS. (We had a guidance program that made decisions based on image recognition.) We have the capability to make drones that communicate with each other, can fly in thousands-strong, complex swarm formations without crashing into each other. Drones are going to be more fuel efficient and thus be capable of longer range, they won't have to worry about pilot fatigue, they'll have a significantly smaller radar cross-section when contrasted with a similarly capable manned aircraft, they'll be able to withstand higher G-forces, they are not limited to a human field of view.

We have the technology, but we haven't put it to use. When we do get around to making a drone fighter aircraft (which last I heard was planned for sometime in the next 20-30 years.), then we'll know for sure, but I predict that they'll outperform manned aircraft by a significant margin.


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Post Re: The "Real Aerospace" Thread
The question of moral implications when using more drones is one, should machines decide when and if to kill? I feel that the decision to end another person/s existence should always be a human one, and never a computers. This way people have someone to blame, not some faceless machine doing what it was programmed to do based on value inputs.

As for the ethics of using drones I think it`s about the same as using long range rockets, such as the Tomahawk cruise missile, AC-130 gunship, conventional air strikes, beyond Line Of Sight Artillery strikes, mines even. War isn`t fair, never has been, never will be. The strongest make the rules, the odd adage still hold true; Might makes Right.

If I gave you the choice between being a pilot or being a drone operator, honestly, which would you choose?
Can you honestly say that you wouldn`t want to soar higher than the birds, above the clouds, like Icarus reaching for the sun?

As for the scale of conflict, I don`t think large scale nuclear conflict will really occur. I think the largest counties are smart enough to see what that would bring. It`s the smaller states that could start the limited exchange, North Korea comes to mind. In all the history I've read, America`s modus operandi is to throw vast amounts of men and machines at a given problem. Id along with it`s large scale of production capabilities make it rather good at fighting conventional wars, I also think that if it was not the aggressor in the conflict the war wariness would not become a problem.

Even if we had full mechanization of warfare, unless the befits gained by fighting a war out way the costs, Social and Economic, war would not become perpetual, there would be a critical mass were it was A; to expensive to continue fighting or B; the Social costs became too much, in either war wariness or international out cry.

I don`t doubt we have the technological means to create very complex drones, but what would we use these "Drone Swarms" for?

I would like to see much more development in the field of ground drones, for starters better E.O.D drones would be good, mine and other explosive clearance drones need some major improvements. I'd also like to see combat drones be used on a squad level. Such as small recon drones to give an extra eye in the sky when needed. Or small sentry drones armed with Light Machine guns that can be set to guard positions and give alert to drone operators wherein they can take action with said drone and LMG. Maybe even small drones that are deployed into houses and other urban setting that can be detonated with different explosives, Flash bangs, HE, ect.

I've applied to the British Regular Army as an Infantrymen, or these are drones I'd like to see anyway.

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Post Re: The "Real Aerospace" Thread
Charlie wrote:
The question of moral implications when using more drones is one, should machines decide when and if to kill? I feel that the decision to end another person/s existence should always be a human one, and never a computers. This way people have someone to blame, not some faceless machine doing what it was programmed to do based on value inputs.


That's why even if we HAVE self-driving cars they'll always need to be manned by a licensed driver, so someone can take the blame.

Quote:
As for the ethics of using drones I think it`s about the same as using long range rockets, such as the Tomahawk cruise missile, AC-130 gunship, conventional air strikes, beyond Line Of Sight Artillery strikes, mines even.


This. I don't get the obsession with the evil of drone strikes, I've never seen any evidence that they are any less precise than regular airstrikes.

Quote:
If I gave you the choice between being a pilot or being a drone operator, honestly, which would you choose?
Can you honestly say that you wouldn`t want to soar higher than the birds, above the clouds, like Icarus reaching for the sun?


Drone operator. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to fly an F-22, but I'd also love to go home every day to my own place rather than a forward base somewhere. My understanding is that the Chair Force usually gets decent lodging, but I'll take a base in the States still.

Quote:
As for the scale of conflict, I don`t think large scale nuclear conflict will really occur. I think the largest counties are smart enough to see what that would bring. It`s the smaller states that could start the limited exchange, North Korea comes to mind.
[/quote][/quote]

There's no benefit to anyone in starting a nuclear exchange, even places like NK simply don't benefit from it. HAVING nukes is great, because it means that an invasion is extremely hazardous, USING them is...problematic.


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Post Re: The "Real Aerospace" Thread
fredgiblet wrote:
That's why even if we HAVE self-driving cars they'll always need to be manned by a licensed driver, so someone can take the blame.

Yes, even after it becomes technologically viable, I don't think we'll see self-driving cars for a long time for a variety of reasons, but one of them is that the car manufacturer surely doesn't want the liability.

fredgiblet wrote:
I don't get the obsession with the evil of drone strikes, I've never seen any evidence that they are any less precise than regular airstrikes.

I think this is purely a perception issue; I don't think that most people realize that these drones are piloted. It's also a problem with the nature of the missions (most of which are secret), so when the foes on the ground claim there are civilian casualties, the military really hasn't been in a position to contradict or clarify.

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Post Re: The "Real Aerospace" Thread
Quote:
This. I don't get the obsession with the evil of drone strikes, I've never seen any evidence that they are any less precise than regular airstrikes.

The precision often comes down to the human intelligence not only what can be seen from the air. Systems malfunctions form the lower percentage of incorrect strikes, as far as I know. It is more often miss identified targets by ground assets that cause a lot of the collateral damage.

Quote:
Drone operator. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to fly an F-22, but I'd also love to go home every day to my own place rather than a forward base somewhere. My understanding is that the Chair Force usually gets decent lodging, but I'll take a base in the States still.

I can`t blame you for choosing like that, but I'd like to point out that, out of the seven different "Airbases" in Afghanistan, five of them were actual Airports. So there would be a fairly high level of luxury compared to other areas. Still it wouldn`t compare to being able to go home and kick off your shoes.

Quote:
There's no benefit to anyone in starting a nuclear exchange, even places like NK simply don't benefit from it. HAVING nukes is great, because it means that an invasion is extremely hazardous, USING them is...problematic.

What I meant was smaller more backward counties coming into position of Nuclear arms. Counties that are most often radical religious types, the counties that would bat an eye lid at the opportunity to launch a strike against the "big, bad" America. North Korea wouldn`t, it was an example state. Kim Jong-un`s military leaders would stop him from starting trouble like that. More over China doesn`t want American forces to build up in the Korean region, so they stopped him. Further more it`s worth considering that America still has enough Nukes, although they are aging, to cover the entire North Korean country in blast craters a few times over, if it so tickled their fancy.

Nukes are mostly show pieces however. Used in defensive ways, such as nuking an invading fleet, would leave you with an irradiated coast line and a considerable amount of sea area. Using them to attack a far superior enemy would be equally disastrous, America has more nukes. This is not even considering environmental damage or what the international community would do.

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Post Re: The "Real Aerospace" Thread
Charlie wrote:
Arioch is right, final strike orders will human ones for a long time still. I often wonder weather it was movies that made people afraid of machines like that. ED-209, HAL 9000 and other robots come to mind. Are people naturally afraid of machines that can replace them or decide to remove them with force?
"Our parachutes were made by the lowest bidder"...
Charlie wrote:
Is it hard coded it us?
... but yes. Drones basically represent a form of influence that can be exerted over people, and thus someone will always oppose them. If you e.g,. got rid of all of the explicit weapons that have ever been made, then someone would start agitating over shovels/spades. If you purged the Earth of anything other than dirt, water, and soft plant matter, then someone would raise a fuss over words and/or limbs being usable to exert control over someone.

And no matter how far they took it they'd be right, you can use all of those things & more to control people, it's just people tend to be neurotic about it. That's why people like me oppose gun control (note: not a gun-nut, nor an NRA member, though that bullet key-chain was tempting): when we see gun-control advocates, they always seem to be pushing something absolutely nutty, emotional, and/or political instead of something reasonable. It happens.

Charlie wrote:
As for hacking, I really don`t think it would be that easy for a military system to be hacked, even by a another military power. If it were so, it would have already been done.
The difficulty varies, but it actually has been done before. A US military 90's-era design lacked the proper encryption, so some militants in the middle-east were able to get into it's data stream. I don't think that they could control it (as I best recall it had two data streams: an unencrypted video stream, and an encrypted control/telemetry stream), but if I remember right they were able to time their jamming to take it down where they wanted. Presumably this wouldn't happen in a modern design (bogo-mips are just so cheap now), but it is worth noting. Also of note (though also unlikely to be useful) is that encryption systems have been found to have flaws after their introduction before.

icekatze wrote:
As for the technology itself though, I suspect that if the US Air Force didn't have such an enduring love affair with the F-22, drone fighter technology would be years ahead of where it is today. I worked on a civilian program that did image recognition and autonomous guidance programming back in 2005, and I can tell you that it is not a lack of technology holding them back.
The lack of a multi-year WW3 or other long-duration air war is the reason why fighter drone technology hasn't progressed faster than it has. There hasn't been enough utility to justify a crash-program.

Arioch wrote:
There really isn't a pressing need for better drone technology; in another limited war, the weapons we have work just fine, and in a serious war against a real opponent, drones will be of limited use. Indeed, a serious war is what I'm concerned about; I think we are getting too used to having total air superiority, too reliant on remote control and GPS technologies (a real opponent can knock satellites down with ease). A war against a real opponent could make us deeply regret terminating the F-22 production line; the F-35 is an inferior "budget" model that won't be operational for a long time.
I somewhat disagree on the usefulness of fighter-drones in a major war. They could potentially be very useful for Wild Weasel, as well as for area-denial (let's say, directly over a major enemy airbase), both of which are tasks that could be done in a jamming-resistant way. However, the chances of such a war breaking out are so low...

As for the F-22, I agree. Maybe we stopped production at the right point, but I think we should have paid to have the production line put into climate-controlled secure storage. It shouldn't have taken even a meaningful fraction of the program's cost, and it's "insurance value" would have been immense.

icekatze wrote:
We have the technology, but we haven't put it to use. When we do get around to making a drone fighter aircraft (which last I heard was planned for sometime in the next 20-30 years.), then we'll know for sure, but I predict that they'll outperform manned aircraft by a significant margin.
I don't know. I would expect that, but if we managed to get a fighter-mountable free-electron laser weapon (let's say with an explosively-pumped pulse generator), then it could completely change fighter doctrine away from the maneuver strategy that we currently follow, to a fuel-preservation strategy, with the fighters (and bombers, and..) mounting omnidirectional laser optics. That could massively rebalance the importance of maneuverability in air combat.

Regardless, I expect drone technology to be leveraged into improvements for control systems on manned aircraft.

Charlie wrote:
In all the history I've read, America`s modus operandi is to throw vast amounts of men and machines at a given problem. Id along with it`s large scale of production capabilities make it rather good at fighting conventional wars, I also think that if it was not the aggressor in the conflict the war wariness would not become a problem.
The US modus operandi since the Civil War (North vs. South, not Colonies vs. Britain; it was apparently one of the earliest wars to be indicative of what WW 1 & 2 would be like) has apparently been closer to "throw the most effective method against the problem", though certainly we don't normally skimp on volumes either.

The note about aggressor status is quite accurate. We seem to react like a bunch of exceptionally dangerous hornets...

Charlie wrote:
I would like to see much more development in the field of ground drones, for starters better E.O.D drones would be good, mine and other explosive clearance drones need some major improvements. I'd also like to see combat drones be used on a squad level. Such as small recon drones to give an extra eye in the sky when needed. Or small sentry drones armed with Light Machine guns that can be set to guard positions and give alert to drone operators wherein they can take action with said drone and LMG.
The big delayer on ground-based drones is terrain. Much easier to control something that doesn't have to deal with large numbers of obstacles. I assume that recon drones are available, but I'm not certain when you'd be able to use them, unless you've got a HUD I think that would be very awkward for infantry to deal with. The auto-sentry idea would probably be better as cheapo sensor heads, with a UAV in the area.

Charlie wrote:
Maybe even small drones that are deployed into houses and other urban setting that can be detonated with different explosives, Flash bangs, HE, ect.
So, Smart-grenades? The US military was working on something sort-of like that for that infantry rifle that got canceled.

fredgiblet wrote:
This. I don't get the obsession with the evil of drone strikes, I've never seen any evidence that they are any less precise than regular airstrikes.
It's an emotional reaction instead of a logical one. I can understand the worries about drones, but that calls for oversight, not rabid opposition.

fredgiblet wrote:
Quote:
As for the scale of conflict, I don`t think large scale nuclear conflict will really occur. I think the largest counties are smart enough to see what that would bring. It`s the smaller states that could start the limited exchange, North Korea comes to mind.


There's no benefit to anyone in starting a nuclear exchange, even places like NK simply don't benefit from it. HAVING nukes is great, because it means that an invasion is extremely hazardous, USING them is...problematic.
True, but if anyone would actually use them against the US (against someone else is different, a few years ago I could see the possibility of Pakistan and India getting into a shooting match again in a decade or two), then it would presumably be North Korea. Apparently, even back in the Cold War they were some of the only people aligned with the Soviets whose brass actually believed it's own propaganda. I think it's unlikely, but if anywhere was gonna do it, then NK (followed, probably distantly, by Iran), is who I'd bet on.

Arioch wrote:
fredgiblet wrote:
I don't get the obsession with the evil of drone strikes, I've never seen any evidence that they are any less precise than regular airstrikes.

I think this is purely a perception issue; I don't think that most people realize that these drones are piloted. It's also a problem with the nature of the missions (most of which are secret), so when the foes on the ground claim there are civilian casualties, the military really hasn't been in a position to contradict or clarify.
Technically speaking, legalities say that usually there are civilian casualties. I forget the details, but terrorists almost always fall into the "civilian" and "illegal combatant" categories. As a result, the military has to do some verbal dancing to move people away from the weasel-word (civilian) to the important one (combatant). The definitions in the Geneva convention & similar aren't designed for modern press releases.

Charlie wrote:
Quote:
This. I don't get the obsession with the evil of drone strikes, I've never seen any evidence that they are any less precise than regular airstrikes.

The precision often comes down to the human intelligence not only what can be seen from the air. Systems malfunctions form the lower percentage of incorrect strikes, as far as I know. It is more often miss identified targets by ground assets that cause a lot of the collateral damage.
There are other circumstances, too. Apparently within the last year or so the US Air Force accidentally killed some apparently peaceful cleric in Yemen. He had been raising some ruckus against Al-Qaeda if I remember right, a known member had gone to speak with him to try to iron things out, and we hit both at the same time because we assumed the Al-Qaeda member was meeting with another member that we just didn't know about. You can say that's what people get for knowingly associating with terrorists, and I would technically agree, but I also realize that things like that are part of the source of uproar in these cases.

Charlie wrote:
Nukes are mostly show pieces however. Used in defensive ways, such as nuking an invading fleet, would leave you with an irradiated coast line and a considerable amount of sea area. Using them to attack a far superior enemy would be equally disastrous, America has more nukes. This is not even considering environmental damage or what the international community would do.
Technically, Russia has a good number more nukes than the US does. When the latest treaty restrictions went into effect, we actually refurbished some to get ourselves back up to the agreed-upon maximum. Apparently Russia's military is so technologically lousy (well, okay, "apparently" it was so lousy in the cold-war that we would have rolled into Moscow before we realized we'd won...) that they think (and I guess we agree) that nukes are the only way that they could protect their own borders from us if we decided to attack, so we let them keep more than us despite the land-mass difference.

Well, that and the fact that their ICBMs are apparently lousy shots. I got the impression that they might have built that "largest in the world" nuke so they could actually hit the target with a single warhead.


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Post Re: The "Real Aerospace" Thread
Quote:
Charlie wrote:
Is it hard coded it us?
... but yes. Drones basically represent a form of influence that can be exerted over people, and thus someone will always oppose them. If you e.g,. got rid of all of the explicit weapons that have ever been made, then someone would start agitating over shovels/spades. If you purged the Earth of anything other than dirt, water, and soft plant matter, then someone would raise a fuss over words and/or limbs being usable to exert control over someone.

And no matter how far they took it they'd be right, you can use all of those things & more to control people, it's just people tend to be neurotic about it. That's why people like me oppose gun control (note: not a gun-nut, nor an NRA member, though that bullet key-chain was tempting): when we see gun-control advocates, they always seem to be pushing something absolutely nutty, emotional, and/or political instead of something reasonable. It happens.

So, it not so much the drones that are a problem as the fact the people inherently don`t like any form of "Big Brother".

As for me, I too a oppose gun control, but for maybe more practical reasons. There was a gun amnesty program a few years back here, it encouraged many people to turn in the illegal guns. Apartheid-era gun owners who had not renewed their gun licences with the change of government along with people who owned illegal firearms could turn in their arms to the police and no charges wold be filed. Many people, many of these white hold outs, turned in a vast number of firearms. These guns were to be destroyed by the police, but due to corruption a large portion were sold on the black market to criminals. Now due the gun control it is next to impossible to get a gun licence, with house breakings and car jackings on the rise, many few betrayed by the Amnesty Act. While this won`t happen in other western countries I don`t believe, I do see your point about how people will find a way to complain about can and cannot be used as a weapon. In Britain where guns are nonexistent, stabbings are common.

Quote:
Charlie wrote:
As for hacking, I really don`t think it would be that easy for a military system to be hacked, even by a another military power. If it were so, it would have already been done.
The difficulty varies, but it actually has been done before. A US military 90's-era design lacked the proper encryption, so some militants in the middle-east were able to get into it's data stream. I don't think that they could control it (as I best recall it had two data streams: an unencrypted video stream, and an encrypted control/telemetry stream), but if I remember right they were able to time their jamming to take it down where they wanted. Presumably this wouldn't happen in a modern design (bogo-mips are just so cheap now), but it is worth noting. Also of note (though also unlikely to be useful) is that encryption systems have been found to have flaws after their introduction before.

True. But as far as the safety aspect of it goes, it seems reasonable to assume that the drones will not be turned on their masters anytime soon.

Quote:
Charlie wrote:
In all the history I've read, America`s modus operandi is to throw vast amounts of men and machines at a given problem. Id along with it`s large scale of production capabilities make it rather good at fighting conventional wars, I also think that if it was not the aggressor in the conflict the war wariness would not become a problem.
The US modus operandi since the Civil War (North vs. South, not Colonies vs. Britain; it was apparently one of the earliest wars to be indicative of what WW 1 & 2 would be like) has apparently been closer to "throw the most effective method against the problem", though certainly we don't normally skimp on volumes either.

The note about aggressor status is quite accurate. We seem to react like a bunch of exceptionally dangerous hornets...

My World History Depth Studies extended only from 1900-2000, so most of what I know regarding American history before that is conjecture. Still, there is a pattern in how the US fights, they have always had better armed and more soldiers on the field. The Great War doesn`t really show this, because of it`s nature. The Second World War had the arguably inferior Sherman tanks fighting the Panther in ratios of sometimes 8 to 1, the Sherman tank was far more easily made when compared to the Panther and with it`s speed and size worked well in "Human Wave" tactics if they could be called such a thing. The Shermans simply beat the slower Pathers, and other tanks, with numbers and speed.

Charlie wrote:
I would like to see much more development in the field of ground drones, for starters better E.O.D drones would be good, mine and other explosive clearance drones need some major improvements. I'd also like to see combat drones be used on a squad level. Such as small recon drones to give an extra eye in the sky when needed. Or small sentry drones armed with Light Machine guns that can be set to guard positions and give alert to drone operators wherein they can take action with said drone and LMG.
The big delayer on ground-based drones is terrain. Much easier to control something that doesn't have to deal with large numbers of obstacles. I assume that recon drones are available, but I'm not certain when you'd be able to use them, unless you've got a HUD I think that would be very awkward for infantry to deal with. The auto-sentry idea would probably be better as cheapo sensor heads, with a UAV in the area.
Perhaps the examples I gave was not descriptive enough. The drones would all be man portable, I think they would mainly be used in urban environments but design would be able to overcome the limitations imposed by terrain given enough time and funding. As for the recon drones I was thinking of militarizing some of the radio controlled commercial air drones, longer battery life, more rugged, ect. As for the "HUD" I was thinking something like this.

The sentry drones would not operate on their own, they would be part of a system of layers of protection. The first layer could be cheaply made disposable senors that detect moment along with radio receivers and transmitters, if they detect a human sized presence that does not emit a Friend or Foe Identification check of some kind, maybe embedded inside the uniforms, an alert is sent to the systems operator. The next level of layered protection would then be the armed sentry drones.

Quote:
Charlie wrote:
Maybe even small drones that are deployed into houses and other urban setting that can be detonated with different explosives, Flash bangs, HE, ect.
So, Smart-grenades? The US military was working on something sort-of like that for that infantry rifle that got canceled.

In a sense, yes. I was thinking instead using newly designed munitions, like smart grenades, we simply alter the way the are delivered. With the drone a soldier come armed it with High Explosives and drive it up to a wall, and detonate. This way he would not have to carry a Rocket Launcher that is capable of destroying the wall, but a smaller disposable drone.

As for the smart grenades, do you mean this?

Quote:
True, but if anyone would actually use them against the US (against someone else is different, a few years ago I could see the possibility of Pakistan and India getting into a shooting match again in a decade or two), then it would presumably be North Korea. Apparently, even back in the Cold War they were some of the only people aligned with the Soviets whose brass actually believed it's own propaganda. I think it's unlikely, but if anywhere was gonna do it, then NK (followed, probably distantly, by Iran), is who I'd bet on.

It might also be worth considering that it may not be a country, per say, that uses Nuclear weapons in anger. I can think of a few Middle Eastern Fundamentalist groups that would fire one the the US. Nuclear Terrorism might be a thing of the future as more countries are able to make such weapons.

Charlie wrote:
The precision often comes down to the human intelligence not only what can be seen from the air. Systems malfunctions form the lower percentage of incorrect strikes, as far as I know. It is more often miss identified targets by ground assets that cause a lot of the collateral damage.
Quote:
There are other circumstances, too. Apparently within the last year or so the US Air Force accidentally killed some apparently peaceful cleric in Yemen. He had been raising some ruckus against Al-Qaeda if I remember right, a known member had gone to speak with him to try to iron things out, and we hit both at the same time because we assumed the Al-Qaeda member was meeting with another member that we just didn't know about. You can say that's what people get for knowingly associating with terrorists, and I would technically agree, but I also realize that things like that are part of the source of uproar in these cases.

That is still a failure of the intelligence factor, not the weapon system. While it is regrettable that the cleric was killed, people would do well to remember that the drones are tools, tools of war. You can`t blame the sword for whom it cuts.

Charlie wrote:
Nukes are mostly show pieces however. Used in defensive ways, such as nuking an invading fleet, would leave you with an irradiated coast line and a considerable amount of sea area. Using them to attack a far superior enemy would be equally disastrous, America has more nukes. This is not even considering environmental damage or what the international community would do.
Quote:
Technically, Russia has a good number more nukes than the US does. When the latest treaty restrictions went into effect, we actually refurbished some to get ourselves back up to the agreed-upon maximum. Apparently Russia's military is so technologically lousy (well, okay, "apparently" it was so lousy in the cold-war that we would have rolled into Moscow before we realized we'd won...) that they think (and I guess we agree) that nukes are the only way that they could protect their own borders from us if we decided to attack, so we let them keep more than us despite the land-mass difference.

Well, that and the fact that their ICBMs are apparently lousy shots. I got the impression that they might have built that "largest in the world" nuke so they could actually hit the target with a single warhead.

Actually you are nigh dead on, during the cold war the Soviets had few Nuclear Warheads but a higher amount of Megatonnage, the amount of explosive power that each warhead could bring. The Soviet Military was easily more than 10 years behind the US. From about 1950, when both counties were on roughly equal footing technology wise, the US steadily gained ground of the Russians. While simpler Russian weapons, such the AK-47 and it`s variants are testament to Soviet engineering, the US was unparalleled when it came to more complex designs. The US missile guidance system were much better that the Soviet counter parts, this is the reason the Russian built such heavy hitting bombs, because as you said they could miss. While the Soviets could have easily destroyed America with what they had, they were aware that their missiles did not compare to the US ones. This is what lead to the Fail-Deadly system empolyeed by Russia, allegedly still in operation, the danger that the US could wipe out the Soviets before they could counter launch. Even the Cuban missile crisis was a two part operation by Khrushchev, first it was a bargaining chip against the US, whom had missile bases in Turkey, second it would give the Soviets a leg up by allowing them to launch more quickly and with more accuracy. You are correct in your view of the AN602 hydrogen bomb, "largest nuke in the world", it was the predicate end of the Soviet design strategy, "Bigger is better".

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Fri May 17, 2013 9:04 am
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Post Re: The "Real Aerospace" Thread
Charlie wrote:
So, it not so much the drones that are a problem as the fact the people inherently don`t like any form of "Big Brother".
Pretty much, yeah.

Charlie wrote:
My World History Depth Studies extended only from 1900-2000, so most of what I know regarding American history before that is conjecture. Still, there is a pattern in how the US fights, they have always had better armed and more soldiers on the field.
Before & during the US civil war, we fought in basically the same way as everyone else: get a bunch of guys, walk or charge them in, and use cavalry & artillery to help out a bit. Afterwards, we apparently switched our general style of combat to "use the target's kryptonite". I've gotten the impression that the French and British might have still been using the old style in WW1 (in fact, I understand it to have been a large part of why they lost so many soldiers).

Charlie wrote:
The Second World War had the arguably inferior Sherman tanks fighting the Panther in ratios of sometimes 8 to 1, the Sherman tank was far more easily made when compared to the Panther and with it`s speed and size worked well in "Human Wave" tactics if they could be called such a thing. The Shermans simply beat the slower Pathers, and other tanks, with numbers and speed.
The thing with the Shermans is deceptive. Apparently they were designed around the same time as a German tank that they were actually comparable to (the Panzer 1, I think?). The Shermans themselves were never actually intended to fight other tanks, as the US was following a "tanks against infantry, tank-destroyers against tanks" philosophy at the time. The use of Shermans against Panzers was apparently partly because they were just so common, and partly because it was apparently difficult to tell them apart from the tank destroyers at a glance. Another problem is that the heavy designs apparently didn't get finished in time for the war, though they did make it in time for Korea.

Though, as far as the volume of Shermans, it's worth considering something: before the most recent recession, the US GDP apparently had a yearly growth that was roughly equal to the size of the German economy.

Charlie wrote:
Perhaps the examples I gave was not descriptive enough. The drones would all be man portable, I think they would mainly be used in urban environments but design would be able to overcome the limitations imposed by terrain given enough time and funding. As for the recon drones I was thinking of militarizing some of the radio controlled commercial air drones, longer battery life, more rugged, ect. As for the "HUD" I was thinking something like this.
Land Warrior is what I was thinking of, too. That having been said, in an urban combat situation I'd worry about ambushes & similar. If you're being backed by a tank or something then one of it's crew members could act as a forward-observer, without having to worry too much about ambushes, but someone on foot could be attacked at any moment if the surrounding area hasn't been locked down. A HUD could allow ground troops to take advantage of occasional lulls, and it would also allow them to use gun-mounted cameras to look around corners without exposing themselves, but beyond that I think drone surveillance probably belongs one or two levels above "squad".

Charlie wrote:
The sentry drones would not operate on their own, they would be part of a system of layers of protection. The first layer could be cheaply made disposable senors that detect moment along with radio receivers and transmitters, if they detect a human sized presence that does not emit a Friend or Foe Identification check of some kind, maybe embedded inside the uniforms, an alert is sent to the systems operator. The next level of layered protection would then be the armed sentry drones.
That seems much more realistic. I was imagining someone using a concussive explosive device of some sort to knock your immobile drone over, so that they could walk up and strip it of it's weapon and ammo.

Charlie wrote:
Quote:
So, Smart-grenades? The US military was working on something sort-of like that for that infantry rifle that got canceled.

In a sense, yes. I was thinking instead using newly designed munitions, like smart grenades, we simply alter the way the are delivered. With the drone a soldier come armed it with High Explosives and drive it up to a wall, and detonate. This way he would not have to carry a Rocket Launcher that is capable of destroying the wall, but a smaller disposable drone.

As for the smart grenades, do you mean this?
I was thinking of it's predecessor program actually, but yes. Also, I think there was a sci-fi show (Babylon 5, maybe?) that featured what were basically hand-held, guided RPGs. I think such a thing could actually be made for low yields, using model rocket engines & cheap IC chips (some of the PIC line cost less than a dollar per chip, and you can get programmer kits at Radio Shack for ~$20). For that matter, I think the seeker-head from the first-generation Sidewinder missile could be duplicated with parts from Radio Shack.


Fri May 17, 2013 9:12 pm
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