Debate and Discussion

The future of warfare
ozoneocean at 9:22AM, Sept. 7, 2010
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What is the future of warfare?

War technology companies seem to be pushing the idea of remote war more and more- We have the now familiar Predator drones and their variants that can fire rockets, missiles or drop bombs on targets thousands of kilometres away from the operator, who sits in perfect safety and comfort. Other devices are on the drawing board and under development, from remote fighters, to helicopter gunships, warships etc.
We already have the old tracked bomb disposal robots adapted to carry light machine-guns and grenade launchers.

True automated “robot” weapons have existed for quite a time, in the form of CIWS gun turrets that can basically hunt their own targets. Originally used on ships variants have been adapted for guarding land bases from incoming projectile attacks. We've also had “robot” missiles that can track and hunt targets on their own…


As these automated and remote weapons systems get smaller, cheaper and more sophisticated, they help to keep their operators safer. But, this has the effect of further disconnecting people from the realities of the death destruction they have in their power… Making them more callous? More evil?
We've already seen the apparent casual disregard for human life displayed by a certain Apache gunship gunner as he sniped away at distant human targets… We've seen numerous examples of high civilian (especially children) deaths from the use of predator drones in pursuit of singular high ranking targets- (the casualties being regarded as regrettable, nothing more).

Is it really in all of our best interests to continue the trend of separating fighting personnel from the realities of what they're engaged in?


Ok, that's the moral tack.
Feel free to talk about other aspects of “future war” if you like.
But remember- if you go on with the old “if people can do something then they will anyway” or “there are no rules in war!”, that's not quite how things work. Organised armies are constrained by their own political and civilian populations and what they consider proper. This is why Nuclear, biological, and chemical warfare doesn't happen too much anymore for example. Plus the Geneva convention, Hague convention etc… although there are lots of other examples of people trying their luck against them (phosphorus bombs in civilian areas by the Israelis…), fortunately they don't go all out.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:37PM
Rafen at 10:48AM, Sept. 7, 2010
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I'd say that warfare is likely to become more augemented rather than automated. Why? Becuase for all their hohar and automated sentry drone can still be knocked out by and EMP wave and outsmarted by a human being.

That and the most expensive and best equiped armoured fighting vehicle can still be destroyed by a well placed 500lb bomb which would cost just a fraction of the tank.
Also take into account the common rifleman, hes cheaper than a AFV and can be armed with a weapon that can destroy or immobilize an AFV cheaply and effectively. The day they manage to replace the common rifleman is the day war becomes a “game” and trust me when you consider the kinds of things a common grunt can do it's pretty inconceivalbe that he'll be replaced by a machine any time soon. That and he's alot cheaper to train, make (SEX YAY!! ;D) equip and maintain than any machine we know today. He can improvise in the field, find food in the field, dig a trench, win the hearts of the locals, build fortifcations, construct bridges and he gains experience from every mission and (theroitically) becomes more combat effective as his tour goes on. All of these things are currently impossible for a machine to manage.

Not only that but in the event of total war I find it highly unlikely that expensive and fragile equipment like Predator drones, complicated Abram tanks and automated “smart” minefield will be in mainstream steady production over cheaper low tech equipments (Like normal mines :P) assuming any conflict actually lasts long enough to become total war. Remember war, in essence when broken down to its simplest parts is just a game of numbers, the side that can produce the most units and the best cost/combat effect ratio wins. Thats why Germany lost WWII despite having supeior equipment latewar. A panther might easily kill 3 tanks but if the Soveits have 6 tanks for every panther you've still lost.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:59PM
Orin J Master at 12:36PM, Sept. 7, 2010
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ozoneocean
War technology companies seem to be pushing the idea of remote war more and more-

yeah, because that's their job.
war is in reality probably the most horrible thing conceivable and it boils down to this: side b has done something so unacceptable to side a that side a declares war, and proceeds to send military force at them until one side or the other cracks enough they want/need to give up from the amount of loss.

the whole concept of remote warfare doesn't work because it's not warefare- it's sabotage. noone takes the “haha i snuck a bomb past you” mindset in the same way as “i have armed men in your capitol, on your streets, and after your forces you bastard” you might break their offensive with that sort of thing, but the nation-culture as a whole will be thinking about how to strike back rather than if they should. it's a pyrrhic victory.

also: predator drones have a pretty gods-awful success rate according to more reports. they tend to either fail to deploy ordinance or misfire it somewhere between 60-80% of deployments.
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:22PM
imshard at 4:10PM, Sept. 7, 2010
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As long as there are humans, there will be war.
Nothing will ever replace having boots on the ground. Period. What the soldiers will be wearing and what they're holding for weapons is another matter.

Honestly how far out do you want to talk? The weapons depend entirely on what threats are faced. Coming into this century military forces were geared for the cold war and the face off between two large equally powerful and analogous factions. AKA conventional warfare. Now the main security threats use “asymmetrical warfare”. Lots of counter-insurgency tactics and brush fire conflicts. Who knows how long it will last or what will replace it. The tactics needed involve different tools, different gear, different training, and different weapons.

For the near-term I see exosuits (no not iron man armor just wearable hydraulics like http://www.lockheedmartin.com/products/hulc/)
Continued development of networks, small sensors, and personal robots http://www.bctmod.army.mil/systems/index.html
And greater awareness of cyber threats in general.

eventually things like this will be a reality sooner rather than later. Who knows what'll come next. Frankly you can probably expect to see space marines minus that space part. Similar to the ones seen in the Aliens and Halo franchises. We're not that far off from it already.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 12:59PM
bravo1102 at 6:50PM, Sept. 7, 2010
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Predators are cheaper then conventional aircraft. They are easier to operate than conventional aircraft and at a 60% failure rate? Not as far as you'd think from the failure rate of a manned aircraft sortie.

Compare what you need to operate a Predator with a F/A-18 strike fighter? Or even a AH-64 chopper? You can operate a drone out of a truck with a handful of guys. You can't support an attack helicopter on the cheap like that let alone a manned fixed wing aircraft. So the wave of the future will be the Predator.

They are really only good as long as they are stealthy and are easily taken out when seen. That guy in the back of the old Toyota pickup with the machine gun. You could arm a light prop aircraft. Some have considered using old prop dusters to knock them down.

Maybe we should bring back A-1 Skyraiders, Corsairs and Mustangs. What's old is new again? Warfare has a tendency of doing that.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:34AM
blindsk at 12:40AM, Sept. 8, 2010
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I love this topic! But not really for the war aspect of it.

When people found out one of the means I have to make my way in life, their reaction is of apprehension and sometimes even disdain. Developing military equipment and research is a touchy subject, and for good reason. It's tough to construct something and be consciously aware that later down the road it will be used to end another person's life.

It's true that especially in the virtual advances in warfare, sometimes deadlier and more cost-effective equipment is being sent out to places of conflict. It's strange and scary to think that anyone could operate that equipment (after some training of course) and brazenly kill off a mass of people - well, I expect the experience to feel unreal. I've never been in combat, but I could imagine the psychological strain is far different from killing someone in person than watching them die on a screen.

Luckily, the story doesn't end there. Certain institutions are dedicated to providing preventative/defensive technologies for military use. Most recently you've probably heard about the successful testing of the anti-missile laser tracking system. That thing has been in development for a few years, but more recently has shown powerful capabilities in negating a tactical strike against the people in which it serves. Advances in radar/sonar have always been making headway in understand enemies before kicking the door open with guns blazing.

I can see some people would be concerned with faking data, though. It's all too easy to have this defensive system malfunction or people misinterpret/skew results causing everyone to have a different assumptions than what is actually the case.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:25AM
ozoneocean at 1:27AM, Sept. 8, 2010
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Rafen
I'd say that warfare is likely to become more augemented rather than automated. Why? Becuase for all their hohar and automated sentry drone can still be knocked out by and EMP wave and outsmarted by a human being.
Try generating an EMP pulse :)
Automated weapons systems will continue to have very limited roles because the contingencies in war are far to vast for any preprogrammed systems yet designed to fully cope. This is why they're typically limited to situations where the options are pretty narrow and they can perform those tasks better than a human being: CIWS can track and engage several incoming targets simultaneously at ranges and speeds that are impossible for a human operator.

Remote Weapon systems are a different matter.
Rafen
IThat and the most expensive and best equiped armoured fighting vehicle can still be destroyed by a well placed 500lb bomb which would cost just a fraction of the tank.
And that is exactly the benefit and the most part of the major justification for remote weapon systems. They're a LOT cheaper than a main battle tank, they're expendable (troops are not), and they can quickly be customised to whatever role you need, which you can not do with a large fighting vehicle.

Orin J Master
war is in reality probably the most horrible thing conceivable and it boils down to this: side b has done something so unacceptable to side a that side a declares war, and proceeds to send military force at them until one side or the other cracks enough they want/need to give up from the amount of loss.
War is horrible yes. As far as I can see though war is almost always about resources and nothing else- In the form of land, people, oil, water, diamonds, forest etc. Or just so you can deny those resources to someone else (i.e.the US attempting to keep Vietnam from the communists).
Winning a war is done through destroying the other side's ability to fight back- Through sheer force, propaganda, subversion, terrorism, whatever works.
Orin J Master
the whole concept of remote warfare doesn't work because it's not warefare- it's sabotage.
You have a point, but war is never fought using only one set of weapons. You could just as easily say that air war doesn't work- on it's own it doesn't. Remote weapons are just another tool and one that is rapidly expanding its role.

imshard
For the near-term I see exosuits (no not iron man armor just wearable hydraulics like http://www.lockheedmartin.com/products/hulc/)
Continued development of networks, small sensors, and personal robots http://www.bctmod.army.mil/systems/index.html
And greater awareness of cyber threats in general.
As far as I can see, the exosuits are a long way off from being used in the field. It seems that smaller, simpler devices are being deployed now and also winning the funding wars- the drones, the remote gun mountings, etc. The other stuff maybe has a role when technology improves, but the remote strategy seems uniquely suited to an asymmetric situation. - a small tracked vehicle mounted with cameras and an automatic grenade launcher isn't as much of a loss as a large HMMWV and five well trained young troops when it gets blown sky high by a roadside bomb.
bravo1102
hey are really only good as long as they are stealthy and are easily taken out when seen. That guy in the back of the old Toyota pickup with the machine gun. You could arm a light prop aircraft. Some have considered using old prop dusters to knock them down.
It's hard enough to shoot down a full sized aeroplane with a mounted gun, let alone something like a drone. They found that during WW2, which is why they had to mount to many together…
They ARE occasionally shot down, but then so are manned gunships, and as you say- they're cheaper, and as time goes on they're probably get more stealthy. Especially with the new remote helicopter models that will be better able to take advantage of the terrain as cover.

blindsk
When people found out one of the means I have to make my way in life, their reaction is of apprehension and sometimes even disdain. Developing military equipment and research is a touchy subject, and for good reason. It's tough to construct something and be consciously aware that later down the road it will be used to end another person's life./quote]Wow, what do you do, if I may ask? ^^
blindsk
Luckily, the story doesn't end there. Certain institutions are dedicated to providing preventative/defensive technologies for military use. Most recently you've probably heard about the successful testing of the anti-missile laser tracking system. That thing has been in development for a few years, but more recently has shown powerful capabilities in negating a tactical strike against the people in which it serves. Advances in radar/sonar have always been making headway in understand enemies before kicking the door open with guns blazing.
I've also heard that they're considering other possibilities of the large laser defence systems… If they can shoot down a missile surely they could easily be mounted on ships and used in an anti-aircraft role? I believe just such an application is already in the planning stages.
Defensive systems can so easily be used to augment already deadly weapons systems… Like the anti projectile defence systems under development armoured vehicles: They fire out a curtain of small shrapnel at incoming threats (so they can destroy an RPG round in flight for example). These could also be used to shred a surrounding crowd of people… And indeed, if they were automatically triggered at the wrong time that's exactly what they'd do. (can they tell the difference between a hurling rock and a hurtling rocket travelling on the same vector?)
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:37PM
bravo1102 at 9:38AM, Sept. 8, 2010
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Drones are a lot smaller and not as well armored as a World War II fighter. They also fly lower and slower. The 23mm cannon or 12.7mm or 14.5mm machine gun will knock one out of the sky in the hands of good shooter. You just have to know how to lead it. I'm told they go up like a WWII A6M5 Zero not an IL-2 Sturmovik. But you're right helicopters are more fragile. They need to sneak up on you. A chopper needs to use terrain to hide themselves. A good pilot can get a helicopter in your face by good use of terrain. It sucks. I hated it. Can't even eat lunch with those fly boys zipping around.

Everyone here is making it out to be so easy to kill a main battle tank when the number lost in Iraq can be counted on your fingers compared to UAVs. What combat troop has by far the lowest causualty rate? MOS 19 series armored vehicle crewmen and by far 19 Kilo series M1 tankers. Every one has been predicting the impending obsolesence of the tank for sixty years and every time the nay-sayers find themselves in the same place as the British MoD found itself after it declared that the missile had made the fighter aircraft obsolete back in the 1960s. It'll keep coming back just read Jerry Pournelle. They'll never go away because all the cool stuff you can't put on a guy because he can't carry it around you can mount on an armored vehicle and make it more survivable. A good portion of its effectiveness is also its intrinsic ability to intimidate. Not until you make the individual troop a tank will you replace one and then you'll still have the tank because it can carry heavier weaponry and armor.

A lot of things look great on paper that don't pass the test of combat and a lot of things shouldn't pass the test of combat but work wonderfully. It's the nature of the beast.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:34AM
seventy2 at 10:07AM, Sept. 8, 2010
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as far as distancing the Operator from the battle:
The Air Force is currently experiencing higher rates of (reported) PTSD in those who fly and kill in the drones, from some remote location in the US, than those who are actually boots on ground combat people.

Mostly, because these people aren't the people who joined the military to kill, but to get ahead monetarily, educationally, or just escape their current situations. These guys go into their box in the morning, kill a guy or two, and then go spend the night with their wives.

It's considered under the same reason why vietnam had a higher PTSD rate than previous wars. It happens too fast. Vietnam used planes to get people out there, and then get people back. before that it was boats. You had weeks/months to sit with your fellow combatants, and discuss what happened. You can't do that with your family. One minute you're killing a man (and believe me, most people know it's going on, and feel the depth of it) the next you're sipping tea with your wife.
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So the point is, unless it's just a button (and only a button, no screen), you can't really detach someone from what's truly happening.
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I can see, and definatly agree that the battles will always be fought by people (hopefully only against equal people) just augmented with advances.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 3:31PM
imshard at 12:57PM, Sept. 8, 2010
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Just wait till the avenger hits
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/General_Atomics_Avenger
http://www.wired.com/dangerroom/2009/04/new-killer-dron/
Essentially a stealth jet UAV. Already completing trials there's no word on how soon it'll hit a warzone near you, but frankly it might be out there already.
Ideally this solves the slow/low flying/easy to detect and kill problem of the prop driven non-stealth UAVs.

As for robots? They're not really autonomous yet, and they don't have the ability to self-determine targets and go out unsupervised. Currently they're more like RC toys with guns just like the UAVs.

More advancements are needed and improvements in soldiers and their kit will come before cyberdyne gets the greenlight on building TX-1s. I don't see a fully automated war happening… well ever happening really. We'll still have humans behind the controls for a long time and when truly autonomous fighting machines come (which won't happen for decades maybe hundreds of years) there will still be humans guiding and overseeing their actions.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 12:59PM
bravo1102 at 3:40PM, Sept. 8, 2010
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Oh great we're going to produce a stealthy UAV that costs the same as an F-16, doesn't have anywhere near the payload or multi-role capabilities and that is the size of an F-18. Well at least it's cheaper than an F-18.

There are still many who wish we still had A-7 Corsair II and A-6 Intruders in the inventory and especially A-1 Skyraiders. Nothing around can go as low, as slow, carry as much, take as much punishment and linger as long as an “Able Dog” or “Sandy” .

Remember that even with all our digital toys you could still end up at the end of the day using the back-up sight with range lines, manual traverse and elevation. Things break and circuits and systems can take forever to de-bug and you need something out there yesterday.

Leopard (and Centurion!) tanks with manual rangefinders, first generation IR sights regularly beat tanks with the latest electronic fire control systems back in the 1980s and 90s in the Canadian Army Tank Gunnery competitions. Shermans operated by the Israelis engaged and knocked out modern armor used by the Arabs.
M60A3 tanks with outmoded and poorly integrated systems outshot brand new Challenger II tanks in competition in the Middle east.

It ain't the digital coolness of the toy, or how super-duper the equipment is. In the end it comes down to Private Joe Snuffy, Gefreiter Johan Schmidt or Private Tommy Atkins. If he is technically and tactically proficient he can make mincemeat out of super well equipped techie guy. All too often it's not how fancy the weapon is, but how good the guy behind it is.

I think someone mentioned a Panther versus allied Shermans? The Panther was a great tank with fantastic sights and a wonderful gun that outranged most others on the battlefield but that gunner had been behind a sight since 1941. When the crew was crap the Panthers wilted like every other super-duper German tank. And when the gunner in that Sherman was well trained and on his game? The Panther and Tiger lost. Just ask Michael Wittmann. Also the whole point about the German quote sure we kill three Shermans but there are always two more? That was tactics. The heavy section of the tank platoon engaged the enemy armor head on while the light section went around the flank. Hold on to them by the nose and kick them in the ass.

Again a question of how good the guys are behind the triggers not how wonderful the weapon system is.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:34AM
ozoneocean at 4:50PM, Sept. 8, 2010
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seventy2
as far as distancing the Operator from the battle:
The Air Force is currently experiencing higher rates of (reported) PTSD in those who fly and kill in the drones, from some remote location in the US, than those who are actually boots on ground combat people.
THIS is quite interesting!
imshard
As for robots? They're not really autonomous yet, and they don't have the ability to self-determine targets and go out unsupervised
“Robot” is really a nonsense term when you get right down to the usage of it -When does an ordinary machine become a robot? How many electrical motors does it take? For myself I prefer to only call machines with some autonomy “robots”, and there are such weapon systems, as already explained, though they're not very smart they're good at their jobs: CIWS turrets and various types of missile systems. They operate well within the limited parameters of their programming and the situations required of them.
Anything much more than that and I just picture the scene from Robocop with ED-209's big corporate intro…
bravo1102
Oh great we're going to produce a stealthy UAV that costs the same as an F-16, doesn't have anywhere near the payload or multi-role capabilities and that is the size of an F-18. Well at least it's cheaper than an F-18.
And no risk of losing its multi-million dollar pilot in action or accident. ;)
-But yeah, a touch expensive as these things go. But remote fighters really do seem to be the thing now. They've been predicted for decades but now the technology has finally started to catch up. Remote attack aircraft have already proved themselves… fighters and bombers next?
bravo1102
Again a question of how good the guys are behind the triggers not how wonderful the weapon system is.
Obviously, but technology moves on. This is why we use machine guns instead of swords or flint locks, and tanks and jets instead of horses or blimps.
Newer tank designs require less crew, or even no crew on board at all (proposed designs). Crew numbers have been slowly dwindling for decades, haven't they? But getting the technology reliable enough has been hard.
Our old DDer Phantom-penguin who served in Iraq as a tank gunner used to say that one of their most important bits of kit in the new more computerised Abrams was a hammer- to give the computer system a whack and reset it…

His experiences there affected him very badly though (mentally), that and having his guts opened by a sniper while on patrol. You'd hope that remote operation* might possibly spare someone from that…? At east the wounding.
War is a horrible thing for all.

*Of the vehicle, not just a remote turret or something like that
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:37PM
seventy2 at 7:24PM, Sept. 8, 2010
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ozoneocean
His experiences there affected him very badly though (mentally), that and having his guts opened by a sniper while on patrol. You'd hope that remote operation* might possibly spare someone from that…? At east the wounding.
War is a horrible thing for all.

*Of the vehicle, not just a remote turret or something like that

is that what happened? i haven't seen him in years. :(
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I'm with bravo. as much as stuff gets advanced, nothing will become autonomous. people don't trust these things 100%. they will still train men to do what these robots do, and they always will, there just will be less of them, and they still won't give primary control, until we're sure that other nations are doing the same.

It's to risky at this point. (for bravo's aforementioned failures of the drones)
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last edited on July 14, 2011 3:31PM
blindsk at 8:21PM, Sept. 8, 2010
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ozoneocean
I've also heard that they're considering other possibilities of the large laser defence systems… If they can shoot down a missile surely they could easily be mounted on ships and used in an anti-aircraft role? I believe just such an application is already in the planning stages.
Defensive systems can so easily be used to augment already deadly weapons systems… Like the anti projectile defence systems under development armoured vehicles: They fire out a curtain of small shrapnel at incoming threats (so they can destroy an RPG round in flight for example). These could also be used to shred a surrounding crowd of people… And indeed, if they were automatically triggered at the wrong time that's exactly what they'd do. (can they tell the difference between a hurling rock and a hurtling rocket travelling on the same vector?)

In general, laser systems of today aren't quite like you'd expect them to be - sort of like how they are in the movies. The worst that can happen is permanent eye damage. The system that I'm thinking of has software capable of discerning between a missile and any other object, so that part is in working order.

The problem now is that the laser just diffuses in intensity after a certain amount of distance. Right now the laser, in order to explode the device, just messes with the chemical makeup that's inside. So for humans, we're pretty much safe being in direct line of fire (save for looking directly into the beam).

You're most certainly correct though by saying that these defense systems could be changed into deadlier offensive weapons. Either that, or in the case of reconnaissance measures, data could be skewed or faked as an excuse to use heavier weapons on an enemy. Both are very possible and equally as scary to behold.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:25AM
ozoneocean at 11:45PM, Sept. 8, 2010
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seventy2
is that what happened? i haven't seen him in years. :(
PP, from the time he started out here, to the years after he served, changed a LOT.
I don't think things went to smoothly for him afterwards.

seventy2
I'm with bravo. as much as stuff gets advanced, nothing will become autonomous.
That's not what Bravo is saying Seventy. Bravo is saying that the man is the strength behind the technology and that simple is sometimes the best.

No one argues the former, but the latter isn't how things happen- Whereas you can still be easily killed by a sword, bunch of cluster bombs dropped by an F-16 does a whole different sort of job.
No matter what, technology WILL move on and WILL change the face of war, as it always has. That's why we use guns instead of stone axes…
…although people could if they didn't trust those newfangled bangsticks :)


We're all pretty unanimous that autonomous weapon systems can only have a limited role.

What advances have you seen with planes? More or that anti-radar “stealth” stuff? How does that change tactics? I imagine planes with that capability don't have to be so careful in their approach to hostile territories?
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:37PM
seventy2 at 5:27AM, Sept. 9, 2010
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blindsk
In general, laser systems of today aren't quite like you'd expect them to be - sort of like how they are in the movies. The worst that can happen is permanent eye damage.
I beg to differ

ozone
What advances have you seen with planes?
I've seen things actually move from ROV's (remote operated vehicles) the new term for UAV's, such a more politically correct term, different thread all together to aircraft. people are being like “hey i like x, it makes me feel all good inside, let's implement that on plane y.” In some cases it doesn't work out well, in others it's excellent.
there is more stealth in fighters, and less stealth in other planes. As far as larger aircraft go, the newer composites are being dropped in favor of the more durable 50's/60's aircraft. (in a war of resources, durability wins out)
facara
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last edited on July 14, 2011 3:31PM
bravo1102 at 7:44AM, Sept. 9, 2010
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I think I'm being misunderstood here. Good personnel is as important as having the latest toys but you have to be in the stadium as far as equipment. A broomstick isn't going to hit any homeruns in baseball no matter how good the batter is. When something better comes along training and expertise can fall by the wayside. I am not talking about axes versus cluster bombs let alone breech loading rifles. You have to be in the ballpark and a certain amount of advancement is necessary.

The best bronze weapon wielding soldiers lost to the guys with the iron swords. Out moded tactics also loose to better use of the same or similar weapons. The Romans beat the Greeks. Same weapons, but better use of those weapons and better soldiers.

But technology isn't the end all be all. There's a reason why they started Top Gun. Basic fighting skills and building elan matters.

Weapon development is all tied to competition. The Europeans were in tight competion so weapons development and innovation happened quickly leading up to breech loading rifles 100 years after flintlock muskets. Though there's a lot more chemistry and metallurgy involved than simple innovation and that grows out of the industrial revolution and the triumph of the persistant machinist.

Today though the competiton is fading. The US is so far ahead of everyone else and is the only country that can build the latest generation of toys and it becomes a force multiplier but is the stealthy hyper expensive F-22 really necessary when there is nothing else in the world even close and realistically no one can afford a comparable aircraft? Weapons development here might have plateaued. It's just not worth building the next generation so instead we reinvent the old generation? But this time it has no pilot and can be stopped dead in its tracks with the right computer tinkering. There is no “manual” backup when there is no one in the cockpit. You can hack into the systems, take over the broadcast controls or just disrupt it for a few secodns so it forgets what it's supposed to be doing and buzzes right into the sights of that 23-2 AA gun.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:34AM
ozoneocean at 9:10AM, Sept. 9, 2010
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bravo1102
Today though the competiton is fading. The US is so far ahead of everyone else and is the only country that can build the latest generation of toys and it becomes a force multiplier but is the stealthy hyper expensive F-22 really necessary when there is nothing else in the world even close and realistically no one can afford a comparable aircraft?
Weapons development here might have plateaued. It's just not worth building the next generation so instead we reinvent the old generation? But this time it has no pilot and can be stopped dead in its tracks with the right computer tinkering. There is no “manual” backup when there is no one in the cockpit. You can hack into the systems, take over the broadcast controls or just disrupt it for a few secodns so it forgets what it's supposed to be doing and buzzes right into the sights of that 23-2 AA gun.
Haha, I don't think that's the story at all Bravo.
The F-22 is an impressive jet on paper, but it was envisaged quite some time ago to fill a role in a world that never eventuated. Each single fighter jet is far, far, far too expensive for what you get. The problem with the F-22 and even the F-35 isn't that there's no real competition on the horizon, it's commerce, economics, and politics.

There is a LOT of political capitol invested in those programs, there is a HELL of a lot of money invested in them too. They're just not viable or affordable though, especially in light of the massive drain on the defence budget caused by these two idiot wars. The F-22 is especially handicapped in that its cost can't really be offset by extensive exports, because of the technology, but also because the US must be the first customer to get a full supply of them and yet because of the expense that will be a slow process.
The F-35 has had a lot of foreign investment and a lot of committed foreign buyers. It's also a bit cheaper so that will move forward, but it's been a very slow and expensive development process.
These programs suffered bad luck (in the form of the wars), but they were badly and optimistically set up to begin with.
This is why there has been a move to stick with and maintain older tech for a while (most other countries do that routinely) and also why the much cheaper drones have seen such an upswing in investment: The CHEAPER option.

These are commercial and political problems. It's hardly the first time such a thing has happened to major weapons programs though. There are many instances of businesses and countries over-investing in systems that seemed a great idea at the time- Many times in the US in the 20thC alone. Least we forget Star Wars, Battleships, guided missile tanks…

———————————-

Currently though, drones have proven themselves more and more effective. Worried about computer tinkering and signal disruption? Valid concerns but hardly major ones or they'd never have been fielded. We've had intelligently guided missiles for decades now, these aren't problems that haven't been reasoned out before, a lot of the same theory and practice applies to drones. And above all, they're cheaper than manned craft and you've no risk of losing a pilot (which is a huge expense), so it doesn't matter as much when you lose the craft.
 
last edited on July 14, 2011 2:37PM
blindsk at 11:17AM, Sept. 9, 2010
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seventy2
I beg to differ


I guess I wasn't clear enough, sorry. Chemically comprised objects as well as electronic devices can be disabled/exploded by lasers. That's all true. But the stuff we see in movies where we can harm biological creatures as well with the same power? Eh, that's pushing it. Maybe radioactively it could alter our blood structure at worse, but it's not going to leave a big, gaping hole in our bodies.

Essentially humans can survive an encounter in direct site of a released beam.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:25AM
Rafen at 12:48PM, Sept. 9, 2010
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bravo1102
Maybe we should bring back A-1 Skyraiders, Corsairs and Mustangs. What's old is new again? Warfare has a tendency of doing that….There are still many who wish we still had A-7 Corsair II and A-6 Intruders in the inventory and especially A-1 Skyraiders. Nothing around can go as low, as slow, carry as much, take as much punishment and linger as long as an “Able Dog” or “Sandy” .
Well the A-1 was an absouloute beast, but I wouldn't bring it back, too slow. The A-10 does a fine job and is alot faster. What worries me is that the USA plan to phase it out by 2028, what with? Its a brilliant design that will probably still be viable by 2028.

But as bravo1102 old can often become new. Stg44's were used in the Lebanon conflict and have been reported in Afghanistan, both instances they seem just as effective as they were over 60 years ago. Centurions, T-72s and M60s are just as viable today as they were decades ago and their alot cheaper to produce than modern tanks. In the event of “total war” old designs like these could become vogue again as war turns from small scale insurgency wars to massive strategic ploys of logistics. Fortunatly this kind of war is very unlikely as the industrial output is really only held by North American and Europe (Russia included).

However as current conflicts seem to be centred around insurgency operations I suspect militaries will focus on better infantry gear, gunships and artillery platforms (both ground based and airborne) on the basis of economics. There is a reason why so few tanks have been knocked out in Afghanistan and Iraq. Tanks aren't suited to anti gurriela warfare, their expensive to repair, large, bulky. Granted they could probably elimanate any threat given enough discreation and determination but as the Israelis have learn't time and time again, tanks in mountains and cities end up killing alot of civillans; which is not good if your trying to win “hearts and minds”.

What does intrigue me is (bear with me) the idea that the soldier on the ground directs airborne attacks. “blue on blue” incidents were rife in Vietnam and aren't unheard of in today's world either. So having a man on the ground who's already scouted the terrian and can correctly identify the foe could greatly reduce civillian and friendly casulaties. Yea thats right we all need the killstreak laptops from COD…

ozoneocean
These are commercial and political problems. It's hardly the first time such a thing has happened to major weapons programs though. There are many instances of businesses and countries over-investing in systems that seemed a great idea at the time- Many times in the US in the 20thC alone. Least we forget Star Wars, Battleships, guided missile tanks

Guided missile tanks are a brilliant idea, just ask the russians :)

Someone
Today though the competiton is fading. The US is so far ahead of everyone else and is the only country that can build the latest generation of toys and it becomes a force multiplier but is the stealthy hyper expensive F-22 really necessary when there is nothing else in the world even close and realistically no one can afford a comparable aircraft? Weapons development here might have plateaued. It's just not worth building the next generation so instead we reinvent the old generation? But this time it has no pilot and can be stopped dead in its tracks with the right computer tinkering. There is no “manual” backup when there is no one in the cockpit. You can hack into the systems, take over the broadcast controls or just disrupt it for a few secodns so it forgets what it's supposed to be doing and buzzes right into the sights of that 23-2 AA gun.

Another reason why I don't like UAVs for anything other than recon. Though granted it will be able to stay in the air longer than a human can. I also can see the idea of having it circle over a firefight giving tactical infomation (e.g sniper positions) and being directed by the men on the ground as very viable.

And to whoever said lasers are the Bees knee. How are you going to get enough energy into them (remember batteries are heavey) for them to be signifcantly deadly, light weigh capacitors are still a long way off, and even when they are done I wonder if they'll be “man portable”. Even then they'll probably be rather wasteful on infantry and only effective on AFV's until someone straps their wifes dressing mirror to the front of it. Just my two cents.

last edited on July 14, 2011 2:59PM
seventy2 at 1:21PM, Sept. 9, 2010
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ozoneocean
Valid concerns but hardly major ones or they'd never have been fielded.
Oh ho ho hahahahahahaha hah hahahahahhahaha ha. Hahahha oooohohohohoho sigh *wipes tear away from eye*
You're a riot and a half, no wonder you're the favored admin at DD.
—————————-

Lasers.

The reason this works is by maintaining constant contact on the target, the light then heats everything setting it on fire. imagine if i took that and pointed it at your stomach… this is gonna burn your skin, and more than likely start boiling your stomach acid. or it made contact with your eye? Like you said it's not gonna blow a hole in your skin, but to put down an enemy, you don't need to kill him.

While the navy want's something more powerful, i'm willing to bet the army would love that in a tank for IEDs or even insurgents.
facara
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last edited on July 14, 2011 3:31PM
blindsk at 1:34PM, Sept. 9, 2010
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seventy2
Lasers.

The reason this works is by maintaining constant contact on the target, the light then heats everything setting it on fire. imagine if i took that and pointed it at your stomach… this is gonna burn your skin, and more than likely start boiling your stomach acid. or it made contact with your eye? Like you said it's not gonna blow a hole in your skin, but to put down an enemy, you don't need to kill him.

While the navy want's something more powerful, i'm willing to bet the army would love that in a tank for IEDs or even insurgents.

That's a bit ridiculous. Do you have any idea how long it takes to heat up a typical class-4 gas laser? This is really the only type that can do some damage to skin. But that's only the immediate scattering by the way. These lasers aren't really mobile at all, and firing them from a distance location won't do anything.

Yes, eye damage is something to be concerned about. But I reiterate that unless somehow these can be mobilized and still produce the same amount of energy (and honestly, what material could handle such power anyway?), these really wouldn't be anything to fear in terms of combat. Unless of course someone wants to fire a giant missile at the other side.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:25AM
seventy2 at 1:50PM, Sept. 9, 2010
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Search pop-sci, and other similar tech magazines. it will tell you all the unclass information it can on already tested DoD lasers. They're more advanced than you think.

it doesn't matter how long it takes to “heat up”. when they outside the fence, they don't take their magazines out of their weapons, and strap them to their backs with safety on. They would warm it up inside before doing a patrol. or more than likely it'll be warm from the previous go.
facara
Running Anew an exercise blog.
I'm gonna love you till the money comes, half of it's gonna be mine someday.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:31PM
imshard at 1:53PM, Sept. 9, 2010
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ozoneocean
bravo1102
Today though the competiton is fading. The US is so far ahead of everyone else and is the only country that can build the latest generation of toys and it becomes a force multiplier but is the stealthy hyper expensive F-22 really necessary when there is nothing else in the world even close and realistically no one can afford a comparable aircraft?
Weapons development here might have plateaued. It's just not worth building the next generation so instead we reinvent the old generation? But this time it has no pilot and can be stopped dead in its tracks with the right computer tinkering. There is no “manual” backup when there is no one in the cockpit. You can hack into the systems, take over the broadcast controls or just disrupt it for a few secodns so it forgets what it's supposed to be doing and buzzes right into the sights of that 23-2 AA gun.
Haha, I don't think that's the story at all Bravo.
The F-22 is an impressive jet on paper, but it was envisaged quite some time ago to fill a role in a world that never eventuated. Each single fighter jet is far, far, far too expensive for what you get. The problem with the F-22 and even the F-35 isn't that there's no real competition on the horizon, it's commerce, economics, and politics.

There is a LOT of political capitol invested in those programs, there is a HELL of a lot of money invested in them too. They're just not viable or affordable though, especially in light of the massive drain on the defence budget caused by these two idiot wars. The F-22 is especially handicapped in that its cost can't really be offset by extensive exports, because of the technology, but also because the US must be the first customer to get a full supply of them and yet because of the expense that will be a slow process.
The F-35 has had a lot of foreign investment and a lot of committed foreign buyers. It's also a bit cheaper so that will move forward, but it's been a very slow and expensive development process.
These programs suffered bad luck (in the form of the wars), but they were badly and optimistically set up to begin with.
This is why there has been a move to stick with and maintain older tech for a while (most other countries do that routinely) and also why the much cheaper drones have seen such an upswing in investment: The CHEAPER option.

These are commercial and political problems. It's hardly the first time such a thing has happened to major weapons programs though. There are many instances of businesses and countries over-investing in systems that seemed a great idea at the time- Many times in the US in the 20thC alone. Least we forget Star Wars, Battleships, guided missile tanks…

———————————-

Currently though, drones have proven themselves more and more effective. Worried about computer tinkering and signal disruption? Valid concerns but hardly major ones or they'd never have been fielded. We've had intelligently guided missiles for decades now, these aren't problems that haven't been reasoned out before, a lot of the same theory and practice applies to drones. And above all, they're cheaper than manned craft and you've no risk of losing a pilot (which is a huge expense), so it doesn't matter as much when you lose the craft.

I beg to differ: the T-50 is a 5th generation Russian fighter that is currently undergoing final trials before 2015 deployment similar to the f-35 and at the least a match for the canceled f-22.
The Eurofighter Typhoon is now 7 years old but makes a minor contender since its used by so many countries now.
China has been keeping their new superiority fighter under tight wraps and should see deployment by 2018. (and no, not the JF-17)
Thing about military might and technology is most of the people with the best toys are all on diplomatic terms right now. Conventional war is never far off or far fetched though.

As for lasers?
The ATL might see deployment soon and has successfully struck targets already. Conceived as a module replacement for the howitzer cannons already installed on ac-130 gunships.
THEL has been successfully deployed in Israel to shoot down rocket attacks.
ABL is more of a demonstrator but nonetheless shot down missiles proving that we have the tech for fire control
and the previously mentioned MLD http://www.dailytech.com/Raytheon+Scores+Four+Kills+With+Near+Warready+Laser+Weapons+System/article19098.htm

Any of them could easily cut through or burn any matter organic or not.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 12:59PM
blindsk at 2:00PM, Sept. 9, 2010
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Sometimes these tech magazines that you've seen mention stuff that's in development, but not necessarily perfected. I've seen plenty of high-powered lasers, and they are by no means mobile by this point. An ordinary class4 takes about a day to power up before it be used to its fullest potential. These are the only kind that can potentially harm a human, and that's just their skin (high risk of skin cancer, if anything).

When you see lasers “burning” through stuff, like I said, they're just messing with the chemical compounds found in the product. Very effective for that, but not very effective for today's warfare. If they really have developed an apparatus that's transportable and can generate such power, than this is definitely a giant advancement compared to where it was two months ago.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:25AM
imshard at 2:55PM, Sept. 9, 2010
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blindsk
Sometimes these tech magazines that you've seen mention stuff that's in development, but not necessarily perfected. I've seen plenty of high-powered lasers, and they are by no means mobile by this point. An ordinary class4 takes about a day to power up before it be used to its fullest potential. These are the only kind that can potentially harm a human, and that's just their skin (high risk of skin cancer, if anything).

When you see lasers “burning” through stuff, like I said, they're just messing with the chemical compounds found in the product. Very effective for that, but not very effective for today's warfare. If they really have developed an apparatus that's transportable and can generate such power, than this is definitely a giant advancement compared to where it was two months ago.
Actually there have been a lot of advancements in laser tech over the last couple years. (I'm a bit of an enthusiast)

Check out this video
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1JwCWnSrrTs

Yes that's the ATL burning through an SUV, not just a chemical reaction, on low power, while flying. What they don't show you is the hole it made through the engine. The design is a limited chemical (COIL) laser but it is definitely capable of putting a 10-cm beam of cutting torch heat on spot 10 miles away up to a hundred shots. On high power it could trace a line straight through a tank… or make someone the victim of spontaneous human combustion.

Also, I have a hand held class 4 that gives full power instantly, where did you get your info?
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last edited on July 14, 2011 12:59PM
blindsk at 3:42PM, Sept. 9, 2010
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imshard
Also, I have a hand held class 4 that gives full power instantly, where did you get your info?

I work for a company called Raytheon. Infrared is basically what their research is all about. But come on, you and I both know this isn't the laser in question…it's being a bit pedantic.

And on a side note, the laser you just linked to me wouldn't be available to the general society. There is a lot of red tape in acquiring one of these (they're illegal in the US without a license, though I'm not sure if you live in the US). I should know, a friend of mine had to do a lot of paperwork to prove he was head of an astronomical unit (pun intended) to be able to carry it. In other circumstances, only uses in industry or yes, even military would permit someone to use it.
last edited on July 14, 2011 11:25AM
imshard at 4:06PM, Sept. 9, 2010
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I'll gladly defer to your experience on that Blindsk, seeing who you work for. But to be clear no licenses or permits were needed for me to get or use this class 4 in Oklahoma, USA. I even checked with a lawyer. All it took was a visit to that link and a credit card. In fact most states are the same way, there are very few laws restricting the ownership of lasers in the USA. Don't know what kind of death ray your guy was working with.

That's neither here nor there for this discussion though. You're absolutely right that lasers are still not war-ready (not quite), but the near future looks… blinding.
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last edited on July 14, 2011 12:59PM
Dave Mire at 4:15PM, Sept. 9, 2010
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I hate to say it but this guy looks just like the countless,nameless,rent-a-soldiers that you kill by the hundreds in every first person shooter game.




last edited on July 14, 2011 12:09PM
seventy2 at 5:11PM, Sept. 9, 2010
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blindsk
Raytheon.

I'll concede as well.
——————-

back on topic. the near future is guys in trucks with awesome guns that fit in the back. it may or may not already be here.
if it continues to fight militias, and not military's, then it will stay that way, and evolve from there.
or if china starts some junk, it'll be epic tank on tank action.
facara
Running Anew an exercise blog.
I'm gonna love you till the money comes, half of it's gonna be mine someday.
last edited on July 14, 2011 3:31PM

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