Why I Don't Take the "age of drones" Seriously

Discussion in 'Warfare / Military' started by Dayton3, Mar 10, 2018.

  1. ArmySoldier

    ArmySoldier Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    I was on a mission once with a bunch of 13Fs (forward observers). Drones are putting them outta business! lol. They deployed but all they ended up doing was manning the TOC and working supply
     
  2. Baff

    Baff Well-Known Member

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    Drones are here to stay.
    The big tactical gains from drones have already happened.
    From here on in, countermeasures will be more and more effective.

    Drones get hacked and have been getting shot down all along.

    The arms race moves on. Tactical advantage only lasts for a very short period of time. Until your enemy re-arms.
     
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  3. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    And we have yet to meet an enemy with any real sophistication since we started to use them. I am betting that if we ever do face a nation even as sophisticated as Egypt or Pakistan, the "drone believers" are going to have a lot of egg on their faces.

    We have only had the successes we have had over the past 15 years because the enemies we have been fighting have been of a very low level of electronic sophistication, and little more than loosely organized bands of thugs.

    Not an enemy with the technological, industrial, and research capabilities of a nation-state.
     
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  4. JakeJ

    JakeJ Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    This area has lots of birds of prey. HUGE barn owls. LOTS of hawks. Lots of Osprey. Even some eagles.

    One night I let our mini Pom out the back door and was a step behind out the door - fortunately. As I stepped a HUGE barn owl swung around me as I was now in the way, slamming into an oak tree 12 feet past me, but just kept on going like it wasn't phased. We feed squirrels and birds, including doves. But sometimes it seems more like we're feeding the hawks. They particularly like Morning Doves. They're plump.They don't get too many squirrels, however. The squirrels keep quite a lookout and have a warning cry. If one does so, every squirrel gets to a tree and they all freeze like statutes. Hawks can't be dived thru tree branches. Owls will raid a squirrel's nest if they can find it.

    Owls also will ground fight, something rare for a hawk to do. A barn owl is a very thick, heavy bird, while hawks are more suited for aerial combat. The only outside cats around her are black. For some reason the birds of prey leave them alone. The others don't last long unless it's survived an attack. Seeing a cat sticking to right along side a wall or under bushes is common - as if they know the danger.

    I also have seen sparrows, blue jays and cardinals chasing off hawks away from their nests. The smaller birds are more maneuverable and drive them off by harassment.
     
    Last edited: Mar 28, 2018
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  5. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Well-Known Member

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    Living on a farm most of my life, I've not infrequently seen small birds actually LAND on the backs of large birds and peck and claw at them. The larger birds flee of course because they are utterly helpless against that type of attack.
     
  6. Tim15856

    Tim15856 Well-Known Member

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    I saw that eagle attacking para-gliders and hang gliders in videos a few years ago. They don't play around. :)
     
  7. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    I am surprised that nobody has brought this up. And it discusses something I have been saying for years now.

    This has long been one of my main concerns about the wide acceptance many seem to have in their use. They may be great against an enemy like ISIS with no sophisticated electronics. But not so much against countries like Russia or Iran.

    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/military/russia-has-figured-out-how-jam-u-s-drones-syria-n863931

    This is why I believe in the long run, Drones are going to be an unusual technology we have used in the last decade, but will ultimately not be a long lasting technology. Not unlike all the "movement detectors" we used to spread along the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Many predicted that would be the way of the future, but it was simply another dead end.
     
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  8. The Scotsman

    The Scotsman Well-Known Member

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    This may be of interest to you....
    https://www.sciencealert.com/it-s-happening-drones-will-soon-be-able-to-decide-who-to-kill
     
  9. The Scotsman

    The Scotsman Well-Known Member

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    A fair amount of technology...i.e. takeoff weight goes to maintaining the ability of the pilot to safely fly and fight the aircraft. Take out the pilot and you have the ability to transfer a shed load of weight which can be otherwise utilised in payload/range applications.
     
  10. Dayton3

    Dayton3 Well-Known Member

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    j

    That assumes they are going to build drones roughly the same size and power of manned aircraft which is very unlikely due to the unwillingness to spend that much on an expendable combat asset.
     
  11. The Scotsman

    The Scotsman Well-Known Member

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    Absolutely! My thought process was along the lines of by taking out the squishy thing in front that flies the aircraft you can reduce the size of the aircraft thus reduce cost (purchase/operational/maintenance and consumables) and have significant options avaliable...dependent upon shed loads of criteria...however, based on the AI advancements anticipated it opens up significant potential for future development.
     
  12. Mrbsct

    Mrbsct Active Member

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    My biggest problem the idea of comms can be simply jammed is the complex nature of electronic data. As communications have increased bandwith it will be harder and harder to jam them for they can skip frequency and have pulses coded in a computerized module that nobody knows about. And as drones use more AI and have their internal power, it will be as reckless to jam or hack as a calculator. Sure a powerful pulse weapon or directed energy weapon can disable it, but it can it do that to a manned aircraft.
     
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2018
  13. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    Not really. How about we compare 2, shall we?

    MQ-9 Reaper:
    Max weight: 10,500 pounds
    Payload: 3,800 pounds
    Range: 1,150 miles
    Cruising Speed: 194 MPH
    Maximum Speed: 300 MPH

    F/A-18D Hornet:
    Max Weight: 52,000 pounds
    Payload: 14,000+ pounds
    Range: 1,100 miles
    Cruising Speed: 660 MPH
    Maximum Speed: 1,190 MPH

    So what do the numbers really tell us? Well, it is lighter, that is true. And the drone does have a longer range.

    By about 50 miles.

    But payload? Nope, wrong. It only has around 1/4 the payload of a conventional fighter. And less then one third the speed at normal operating range (in fact, the maximum speed of the Reaper is less than half the cruising speed of the Hornet).

    Final nail in the coffin? A conventional fighter can be refueled in flight. So that range and speed for the F/A-18 can be extended for as long as the pilot can function. At this time, there is yet to be deployed an operational drone that can be refueled in flight. That means that they have to literally be packed up, flown to a theater of operation, then unloaded before they can be used. This is especially true because of their low speed (pretty comparable to that of a Cessna 182).

    So sorry, your claims are not true. Unless you count shedding 50 miles in exchange for a 75% reduction in payload.
     
  14. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    Wrong, it is the reverse. Jamming comms is actually rather easy. You are talking about essentially intercepting, not jamming. And it is amazingly easy to do.

    https://www.nbcnews.com/news/military/russia-has-figured-out-how-jam-u-s-drones-syria-n863931

    The increased bandwidth needed by drones actually makes them more susceptible to jamming, because of the significantly larger amount of data that must be passed in both directions.

    That is not an issue that a manned aircraft has, for many reasons.

    First of all, GPS is not as important. Our aircraft still use Inertial Navigation as their primary navigation tool (GPS is only a backup). And they have a pilot that in most cases is able to navigate purely visually. You can go up to a modern aircraft, completely rip out their GPS unit, and they will still be able to fully operate in a battlefield condition.

    You can even give a pilot their instructions, send them off with no radio and no GPS, and they can take off, bomb a specific target, then return to base. You can not do that with a drone.

    With a modern drone (like the Predator or Reaper), you have several points of failure and vulnerability for jamming.

    First there is the GPS signal, which is fairly low power and open to all. Simply blanket this band and all equipment that uses GPS is dead.

    Then you can jam the inbound control signals. Blanket that spectrum, and no instructions are received by the vehicle.

    And finally you can jam the outbound signals from the drone. Nothing it tries to tell the controller will be received. Especially important when it comes to things that require the firing of weapons (which always requires a 2 way handshake). The controller must tell the drone to fire, the drone will then communicate back to confirm firing, which will then be confirmed a second time. Then and only then will a drone actually fire it's weapon. So jam that drone's outbound signal, and it will never complete the handshake needed, it will never fire it's weapon. You can order it to fire 1,000 times, but if the drone can not confirm the order itself (which is done to prevent a hack attempt) it will never fire.

    The very fact that over 6 years ago Iran was able to hack, hijack, and capture an RQ-170 Sentinel drone should show how vulnerable they are. And it was not just brought down where it was operation, Iran flew it for over 150 miles from where it was operating to land well within their own borders.

    If Iran is able to do this, only a fool would believe that Russia and China is not even more capable.
     
  15. APACHERAT

    APACHERAT Well-Known Member Past Donor

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    Hey Mushroom, hows it going ?

    You forgot to mention ...
    Accident rates for military drones
    excerpt:

    Accident rates per 100,000 of hours flown:




      • 13.7 – Predator in first 12 years of operation
      • 4.79 – Predator since 2009
      • 3.18 – Reaper in last 5 years
      • 1.96 – F-16 in last 5 years
      • 1.47 – F-15 in last 5 years
    So in the last 5 years, the Predator has an accident rate 2.4 times the F-16 and 3.3 times the F-15. Of course the F-16 accident rate is 1.3 times the F-15.

    Part of the full article:
    The article is an opinion piece.




      • A limited ability to detect and avoid trouble. Cameras and high-tech sensors on a drone cannot fully replace a pilot’s eyes and ears and nose in the cockpit. Most remotely controlled planes are not equipped with radar or anti-collision systems designed to prevent midair disasters.
      • Pilot error. Despite popular perceptions, flying a drone is much trickier than playing a video game. The Air Force licenses its drone pilots and trains them constantly, but mistakes are still common, particularly during landings. In four cases over a three-year period, Air Force pilots committed errors so egregious that they were investigated for suspected dereliction of duty.
      • Persistent mechanical defects. Some common drone models were designed without backup safety features and rushed to war without the benefit of years of testing. Many accidents were triggered by basic electrical malfunctions; others were caused by bad weather. Military personnel blamed some mishaps on inexplicable problems. The crews of two doomed Predators that crashed in 2008 and 2009 told investigators that their respective planes had been “possessed” and plagued by “demons.”
      • Unreliable communications links. Drones are dependent on wireless transmissions to relay commands and navigational information, usually via satellite. Those connections can be fragile. Records show that links were disrupted or lost in more than a quarter of the worst crashes.
    A really better source -> https://www.uasvision.com/2014/06/23/400-us-military-uas-mishaps-since-2001/
     
    Last edited: May 20, 2018
  16. Mrbsct

    Mrbsct Active Member

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    Future Comms no. Yes GPS is fairly low power. The future Comms will use powerful directional antennas and frequency hopping. Communications like the MADL on the F-35 are near impossible to jam.
     
  17. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    Dude, I am Commo and IT. What "Future Comms"? We have been using directional antennas and frequency hopping for 30 years. That is the technology built into the drones now, and that is still an issue. That is why our PATRIOT launchers are hard wired into the control van with fiber optic, even though they can take commands through radio and are only 100 meters away.

    Because of the issue of jamming and signal interception. And it does not matter worth a damn what kind of "directional antennas" you put in place on the ground to talk to the drone, the drone can only communicate back through a much lower power omnidirectional antenna.

    And really, MADL? Dude, the Multifunction Advanced Data Link program was cancelled in 2010, because the technology is simply not there yet. Not postponed, cancelled. Yes, there is still some research into it going on, but there is absolutely no timeframe for it (if it ever is) being integrated into any systems.

    Now if you want to talk to me about some kind of real world solution, fine. But bringing up an 8 year dead technology as the next step? No way bubba.

    https://www.revolvy.com/main/index.php?s=Multifunction+Advanced+Data+Link
     
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  18. Mrbsct

    Mrbsct Active Member

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    You have no idea what your talking about. MADL is not cancelled. It is not dead. It was cancelled only on the F-22. The F-35 and the AEGIS system will both use MADL.

    So how are you going to jam something if you can't intercept it? MADL uses very thin beams not the beams in the 1990s. My problem with communication jamming is that modern coms are highly coded with their certain pulses and against a highly networked enviorment with enemy signals traveling everywhere all around, it becomes nigh impossible. Also you have to be in position to hit that one antenna with noise to defeat it. Against a network of antennas? Forget it.
     
  19. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    You do not have to be able to jam something to intercept it.

    Think of it as light. So great, you are talking about basically a tight beam directional flashlight, like a MagLight.

    And that will help you see in the dark. But guess what? Aim a 9 billion candlepower light at you, and you are not going to see anything. Jamming does not need to intercept anything, that is why it is effective. EM jamming is no different in theory, but can actually be even more sophisticated than simply blanketing an area with hash to prevent anything else to get through.

    Thin beam, wide beam, it does not matter. Unless you are talking about some kind of direct line-of-sight communication system (like LASER communication), it can be disrupted. Even RADAR today can be highly directed, and even it can be interfered with.

    And to have coded pulse transmissions, you need handshaking. Once you break that, all communication ends until the handshake can be re-established. A lot of the techniques used in disrupting more advanced shift key type of communications involves breaking the signal then intercepting the handshake attempt. At this point it simply needs to be stronger than the system trying to be contacted (easy to do since normally it is closer and higher powered), and cause it to endlessly attempt to handshake.
     
  20. Liberty Monkey

    Liberty Monkey Well-Known Member

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  21. Mrbsct

    Mrbsct Active Member

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    You do realize the amount of energy you would need to pump in order to defeat such a system. Radar jamming is a lot easier because the receiver is pointed at the direction of the enemy allowing it to be knocked out by either deceiving it or filling it with so much noise, you can't get a clear signal. A communications network is multiple antennas facing multiple directions. You can't simply shoot the air with noise and hope an effective jam systems. No I am not saying it is impossible however the idea Russia can have an effective communication jamming system that can serious disrupt US operations is laughable. Yes beam matters. A narrow beam carries more energy(ie. gain) and is harder to intercept.

    All we needs to do is create a distributed network. Just look at Iraq...the US Military struggled to jam it's even civilian communications used by insurgents.
     
  22. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    Actually, that is not needed. I am not sure where you are getting your ideas, but they are quite wrong.

    There has been RADAR jamming since WWII, and it is rarely directional. Known as Electronic Warfare, this takes a large sweep of technologies under it's umbrella. Yes, some are directional, but most are not. All you need to do is find the frequencies that the enemy is using, and blanket that band with enough "noise" that the enemy can not tell their own signals from yours. Things like frequency hopping do help, but are not proof against such tactics.

    And most systems the US military uses are not of a tight beam matter, other than permanent ground locations. Aircraft, drones, ships at sea, ground forces on the move, they are much less able to use such techniques, because of the limitation of line of sight. Such techniques rely upon line of sight to operate, and are completely ineffective if that is not available and the signals are relying upon OTH or skip transmission from one location to another.

    But yea, please continue to delude yourself that Russia has no capability to jam our signals. Even though there is ample proof that they have been doing exactly that for years.

    https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/aviation/a19747585/russia-jamming-us-drones-over-syria/
     
  23. Mrbsct

    Mrbsct Active Member

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    Yes I know....

    My problem is how much energy to practically put in an environment to jam a sophisticate suite of communications. Yes if you fill a reciever with noise enough you can't really tell your signals. However is this effective at all? Not enough to ground fleets or prevent the enemy from talking to each other. Since the enemy can't realistically intercept or tell frequency hopping apart they have to throw brute force in the enviorment hoping to use raw power. Imaging 100 fighters doing 100 sorties, 10 divisions moving on the ground, in one day and dozens of ground receivers, how many EC-130s do you need to throw in the air does it take to seriously hinder them all? Yeah we are looking at impractical numbers.

    Also directional receivers are becoming more and more common.

    Radar jamming is easier since the enemy receiver is pointed at your direction, and you only have to transmit a fraction of energy to equal his reflected energy. Comm jamming like cell phone jamming is very difficult since you are trying to completely blunt an area you don't see.


    Mighty Russia surely defeating our GPS guided Tomahawks.....
     
  24. Concord

    Concord Well-Known Member

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    I'm mixed on the subject. Obviously, to some extent, it's true, we're utilizing unmanned aircraft more and more, and we're going to continue.

    The question is, what place will there be for manned aircraft? The only tasks that humans are better at are mental tasks. This problem can be solved in two ways. First, you can "man" a drone remotely this has obvious downsides. Second, you can make AI perform these mental tasks. You must admit that there is probably some threshold at which AI will be "better" than human pilots.

    But there is an interesting fact about AI. In chess, a human with a weak computer tool is vastly superior to a powerful AI. This implies that, with appropriate interfacing, humans will always be better at mental tasks.
     
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  25. Mushroom

    Mushroom Well-Known Member

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    Actually, it is. Even more so than it was in the days of analog transmission.

    With analog, you can often listen "behind" the noise and find a signal. It was generally white noise overlaying the actual signal itself. Think of it as like with an old TV, turning to Chanel 3, and a nearby transmitter bleeding over from Chanel 4. This was possible, because of the wide bands used.

    In digital communications, such "data" is simply discarded. Like how if you turn on an old TV to an unused channel you would get "snow". With digital, you do not get it. If the signal is not what is expected, it is simply discarded. Everything is 0 or 1, off or on. There is no grey, there is nothing in between.

    *shakes head and sighs*

    Now please tell me why I should even continue to pay attention to your responses, if you can not even comprehend this simple fact?

    Tomahawks do not navigate through GPS. They never have. In the Tomahawk, the GPS is basically a backup to TERCOM (the backup system), which itself backs up INS (Inertial Navigation - main navigation). That makes it the backup of the backup. You would literally have to have a condition where both the Inertial navigation and Visual navigation systems in the missile agree that they have no idea where they are before the GPS would have to take over.

    Tomahawk missiles are not guided by GPS.

    You have this weird fetish for modern equipment that the military itself does not really embrace. Trust me, I know more than a little bit about what I am talking about. Every single PATRIOT missile launcher has a built-in GPS unit. Yet to emplace them, we still do it 100% manually. With an M2 Aiming Circle, literally an 18th century cartography device. And a 1960's era Intertial Navigation system that we literally tie onto the hood of a HMMWV.

    Yes, the equipment has GPS built in, but we do not use it. It is a back-up to the backup. We only really plan on using that in the extreme case that we have to pack up, jump to another site, and then emplace our equipment with no time to prepare the site before hand. Then and only then would we use the GPS as only a backup (the main system would be as it always is, maps and pace counting by people on the ground).

    This is also why we spend so much time working with maps and compasses. Yes, we have the AN-PSN-13 DAGR GPS unit. Many of us even have our own personal commercial GPS units on us. But our primary navigation is still with a good old map and compass, because it can not be blocked. It can not bee jammed. It is analog, and 100% foolproof so long as it is kept out of the hands of the 2nd Lieutenant.

    When I lay out a Weapon Card even today, I do it 100% manually. With a map, compass, and protractor. Only afterwards do I pull out my GPS and use it to double-check my work. And I use it the same way when I do my walk to set up predefined artillery strike positions at expected places for enemy attacks. It is a backup, nothing else.

    The military uses and takes advantage of advanced technology, but they do not rely on it when they can avoid it. Because history has taught us how many times it has failed us.
     

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