Tuesday, July 13, 2010


Yes, they finally did it: "Defence firm BAE Systems today officially unveiled its first ever high-tech unmanned stealth jet."

Not just "unmanned;" it's a testbed for fully autonomous, stealthy hunter/killer drones. When exactly did BAE relocate to a dormant volcano on a tropical island, staff the place with kickboxing supermodels and issue Persian cats to all the top execs? Did they sleep through the Terminator movies?

It just doesn't seem like a good idea. The h4xx0ring possibilities, not to mention "oopsie" friendly fire, would be a bit worse than from other weapons.

On the other hand, it's exactly the sort of videogamer touch that could be just the ticket for turning today's couch potato into tomorrow's soldier -- different attire, better controller, and it's Space Invaders in 3-D as the drones roll in. "You there, solder, you call that a caffeinated energy drink? My Mother drinks stronger stuff -- and she'd whup you good!" (Ignore him, d00d, everybody knows sergeants don't have Mothers).


The Jack said...

The gamer effect's alreay paying off. Take the CROWS system, remote-operated turret.

Not as good situational awareness compared to standing in the turret manning the gun yourself, but the hours of playing shooters and swinging the screen around helps.
The younger are quite adept at spinning the turret about and looking through the camera. The controler for the turret is also basically a videogame controler.

For the drones, another factor is the higher accident rate. Drones crash, a lot. Harder to land and takeoff and can suffer from signal loss.
(Again problem there is that a pilot can feel the plane itself and is getting alot more situtuational info).

Strategypage.com has a bunch of articles on this subject.

And Wired for War is a good book on it too. That book also shows how the military has been quietly removing humans from the decision loop for a while, despite what they'll say publically.

Ed Skinner said...

An autonomous offensive system doesn't need to receive a radio signal that can be drowned out by jamming, nor does it need to transmit one that could be monitored for position. It can be sent on a mission that would be difficult or impossible for a remotely-piloted system, or too hazardous for a manned craft to accomplish.

Nobody likes war. But if a bad guy in an alley brings out a knife, then I hope I have my concealed carry in my pocket. And if I have to fire, I hope I hit the bad guy -- in such a way as to stop him -- and not miss and injure someone in the apartment beyond.

But make no mistake, I will fire.

In the meantime, it behooves me to practice. And the builders and mission-programmers of these autonomous systems know these same hard facts.

Crucis said...

Wasn't this a movie a year or so ago? Autonomous, stealthy fighter vs. manned fighters?

Nah, that's just Hollywood.

Bob in Houston said...

We say Skynet and laugh but I do believe that the name of the UK's military satellite system IS named Skynet.