Are drones the total future of air warfare? | Page 3 | World Defense

Are drones the total future of air warfare?

TommyVercetti

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Most likely. It's the most feasible way to minimize casualties at our end, so look to drones to do most of the combat in the near future. On of the main goals of the project has always been to kill more of the enemy than they can with us. The numbers game will totally be in favor, plus the added 'hopelessness' factor that the enemy faces when they shoot down a drone and can't find anyone even piloting the craft while they are risking their own lives in the war.
 

vash

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If we're talking about simple tasks that does not require decision making, then drones are superior in every way. Plus, they can be controlled by pilots in the base so they can make better decisions. The problem is that if they are targeted specifically by a foreign invader. I've thought up many possibilities to bring them down. Electromagnetic interference, Hacking their software, shooting them down to study their technology and a lot more. Some of them functions like objects in the sky waiting on standby, so you can't really make them think for themselves if they are attacked.
If by "simple tasks", you mean simply program a drone to go from point A to point B, and drop a bomb while at point B, then return to point A, then I am sure there is no need for remote control or any human interference. But such fixed pattern can easily be interrupted by ever changing battlefield situations which makes such simple programmed drones extremely vulnerable.
Human intervention is definitely needed for more complex situations. Since I do not like total automation, remote control is the way to go.

Sure, hacking a drone in action might be possible, but the drones are still at early stages thus they are not properly equipped to deal with hacking. Besides, if hacking a drone is possible, then hacking a traditional jet with pilots in it is also possible. Using a drone isn't making it more vulnerable to hacking than a jet as modern jets are all computerized.
 

Rainshield7

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In near future (within at least a decade or two), manned weapon systems will still dominate the battlefield on this planet.

I believe eventually drones will replace manned aircraft, as well as tanks, ships too.
However, I do not believe in fully automatic drones. I simply don't trust them to make decisions lol. Full automation will eventually lead to having human interference cut out from the equation completely, and I do not like the direction it's going after that. Think about Skynet and Terminator.

I am all for remotely controlled drones with minimal automation. I understand there will be delay (like ping during gaming) when control a drone from thousands miles away, but I believe the problem will eventually be solved with technologies become more advanced.
When that happens it would be almost like in the Transformers Age of Extinction movie. It would be to where we could have some flying drones that can transform into an advanced weapon. I think drones would improve to that point where they would be able to change form constantly without recognition.
 

Pinoy Jade

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I guess drones are not the limit. I have heard that a weapon can be made on space and would just hit the target on the planet. For example, they would create a weapon floating on space and would just trigger a button on earth to hit the target. That would be i guess a dangerous weapon
 

pwarbi

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I do think drones and unmanned military equipment is going to play a big part of any future conflict. I don't however think its ever going to replace troops on the ground going into combat but it can certainly help to pave the way before a ground assault can begin.
 

KimberlyD

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Drones offer the ability to kill much more effectively with out conscience thought or remorse. Out of sight out of mind so to speak. They can see the target but not really "see" the target. So they can kill indiscriminately. Unfortunately that is a very tempting aspect that will allow for military's to flock to their use. So most likely they will be the future of warfare.
 
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So far the use of drones by the U.S. has not so much been to reduce the loss of pilots and crews, but, rather, to allow a different type of targeting. Drones can sneak in and strike a very specific target, usually an individual person. A drone can be airborne over a specific target for hours, undetected and watching for the right moment to strike. It is also a weapon of terror.
 

TinVanMan

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I don't think drones could totally replace boots on the ground. There are places that combatants can hide without being discovered or accessed by drones. If we were to get farther into unmanned technology, like robotic soldiers, then I think we could potentially see a huge reduction of real soldiers. Of course, this works much better as offense than defense. At some point, a drone attack against America creates the necessity of those being attacked to become soldiers to defend themselves. I think that this is all quite a long ways of, if at all, though.
 

drc65

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I don't think drones could totally replace boots on the ground. There are places that combatants can hide without being discovered or accessed by drones. If we were to get farther into unmanned technology, like robotic soldiers, then I think we could potentially see a huge reduction of real soldiers. Of course, this works much better as offense than defense. At some point, a drone attack against America creates the necessity of those being attacked to become soldiers to defend themselves. I think that this is all quite a long ways of, if at all, though.
Drone might be able to replace boots on the ground, although you are right there certainly are locations that cannot be access with a drone. Soon the drones will have more competent firepower and this will no longer be a problem... I think the main thing that is and will hold drones back is the civilian casualty rate, if it is even released. Boots on the ground may kill a civilian or two but the soldiers will carry the emotional burden unless they are sociopaths. A drone is a machine.
 

rofltank

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It's a good potential that we can see drones being the future of air warfare of almost all air forces in the world. For one, they don't cost the lives of pilots. We don't have to spend much money and time preparing pilots for combat and spending money on gear and safety, when we could buy drones and control them from a safe distance. We don't need to worry about the safety of our men if we're flying drones, and it might save us money in the foreseeable future.
 

wahmed

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I think no matter how many machines we make there are somethings that only humans can do. Remember machines get broken and muck up they don't have brains. Humans do
 

BATMAN

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Sixth generation fighters would be carrying swarms of drones and would guide /control them.
So most definitely drone is the next major war tool.
 

Zeeman

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I did not know that the Russians had shot down an American Reaper in Libya:


Record number of UAV shoot downs prompt new USAF tactics and countermeasure pod
After holding steady at a few instances per year, the number of suspected or confirmed downings of unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) grew to 14 examples in 2019 and surged to 24 in the first six months of this year.

Highlighting a rising trend, episodes last year accounted for 61% of downings over the past five years, according to UAV crash data gathered by Drone Wars UK, an Oxford-based non-governmental organisation whose long-term goal is to realise an international ban on the use of armed drones, and supplemented with reporting by FlightGlobal. The crashes almost entirely appear over the Middle East, in particular active conflict zones in Libya, Syria and Yemen.
fint-7-7-20-uavs-lost-in-conflict-zones-2015-2019 (1) copy

The UAV crash data discussed here was sourced from official government accident reports, plus news articles and social media posts that featured pictures or videos of crashed aircraft. Because governments are reluctant to confirm successful downings, and since some combatants are eager to claim credit for crashes whatever their cause, the true number of UAVs brought down is difficult to know.
Nonetheless, there appears to be a clear trend. Increases in suspected or confirmed downings of UAVs coincide with the growing use of unmanned aircraft in the Middle East. The crashes also coincide with the proliferation of surface-to-air missiles in the region.
No air force can operate with impunity. “In Libya, Russian private military companies almost certainly downed a US unarmed, unmanned aircraft in November using a sophisticated Russian air-defence system,” said US Army General Stephen Townsend, commander of US Africa Command, in written testimony to the US House of Representatives Armed Services Committee in March 2020.
MQ-9 Block 5 Shot from of aircraft - hi-res image

Source: US Air Force
General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper
That UAV was a US Air Force (USAF) General Atomics Aeronautical Systems MQ-9 Reaper. It was likely shot down by a Russian-made Pantsir-S1 surface-to-air missile and gun battery, said USAF General Jeffrey Harrigian, commander of US Air Forces Africa, in February 2020.
During a Mitchell Institute press briefing on 29 June, Harrigian explained that the USAF had become too comfortable flying the MQ-9 over terrorists and insurgents that had no means to shoot it down: “Over time we developed some [tactics, techniques and procedures] that were probably a bit too predictable.”
In response, the service is changing the way it flies the MQ-9. Harrigian wants the UAV’s flight path to be more “unpredictable” and remote pilots better informed about where potential threats are located. That may mean being more selective about deployment, and better balancing the value of intelligence against the risk of collecting it.
The increase in the number of shoot-downs last year is already having an impact on the UAV manufacturing industry. General Atomics says it is developing the first self-protection pod purpose-built for its UAVs as part of a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement with the US Special Operations Command. The countermeasure device would be compatible with the MQ-9 and the US Army’s MQ-1C Gray Eagle, according to a source familiar with the effort.
“Upon completion of the initial prototype and aircraft compatibility testing, Special Operations Forces will evaluate the system’s efficacy in detecting and defeating various threats,” says General Atomics. “The self-protection pod is comprised of a full-complement of mature, fielded aircraft survivability equipment, which will provide full-spectrum protection for the aircraft.” Full-spectrum protection would include infrared countermeasures to confuse heat-seeking missiles or jamming to make it difficult for a missile to be radar guided to its target.
The development of a UAV countermeasures pod comes as the US Department of Defense is worried that its larger UAVs are vulnerable to integrated anti-aircraft defences fielded by China and Russia.
The USAF plans to make its last purchase of the MQ-9 in fiscal year 2020, according to its FY2021 budget request. In light of Iran’s shooting down a Northrop Grumman RQ-4 Global Hawk in June 2019, the service also wants to retire 21 of its 31 examples of that type, particularly older Block 20 and Block 30 variants.
And, the USAF on 3 June launched its search for a UAV to replace the MQ-9 starting in 2030.

NEW PLAYERS
For many years, UAVs capable of armed intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance were predominately operated by three countries: the USA, Israel and the UK, says Drone Wars director Chris Cole. “But we think there are now at least 15 nations operating these systems,” he says.
In the Middle East, China and Turkey are two of the most prominent suppliers. The UAVs produced by these countries are significantly less expensive than those made in the USA. As such, operators of Chinese and Turkish-made aircraft seem more willing to use them assertively.
“Turkey has certainly become almost a superpower, using them not only within its own borders, but also in Syria, and in Libya, and in Iraq as well,” says Cole.
In fact, Turkish UAVs are increasingly showing up as burning heaps on different battlefields.
Data shows at least 14 Turkish-built unmanned aircraft have been brought down by hostile action since the beginning of 2020. A dozen of those Turkish UAVs shot down were the Baykar Bayraktar.
The most commonly used variant of the Bayraktar appears to be the TB2. Ankara has flown that UAV more than 200,000h since its introduction in 2014. And, manufacturer Baykar says it has delivered 110 examples of the TB2 to the Turkish armed forces.
Baykar Bayraktar TB2 c Baykar

Source: Baykar
Turkish-made Baykar Bayraktar TB2; 110 delivered since 2014
The TB2 has a payload of 150kg (331lb) and can carry up to four small laser-guided munitions under its wings. Flight endurance is up to 27h, and operational ceiling is 27,000ft.
However, the UAV is not out of the reach of the Russian-made Pantsir-S1, which is apparently to blame for many of the Bayraktar TB2 downings over Libya in 2020. In the Libyan civil war, Russian-backed mercenaries are operating several Pantsir-S1 systems in support of the Libyan National Army, while Turkey is using its armed UAVs to support the internationally recognised Government of National Accord (GNA).
A Pantsir S-1 system can hit an aircraft at a maximum range of 10.8nm (20km) and altitude of 32,800ft, according to the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Its pair of 30mm cannons can hit an aircraft 2.2nm away at an altitude of about 10,000ft.
Pantsir-S1

Source: Rosoboronexport
Pantsir-S1
It should be no problem for a Pantsir – or a number of other short-range air-defence systems – to hit a UAV, says Riki Ellison, founder of the Missile Defense Advocacy Alliance. “Those drones are very slow, and easy to target once you see them,” he says.
In addition to the Bayraktar TB2s, nine Chinese-built UAVs, mostly Wing-Loong IIs made by China’s Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group, are suspected or confirmed to have been shot down in Libya in 2020, according to the data. The United Arab Emirates had been operating Wing-Loong IIs in support of the GNA.
Similar scenarios are playing out in Syria and Yemen, where surface-to-air missiles supplied by Iran and Russia have claimed a significant number of downings.
With surface-to-air missiles claiming many UAVs, it is no surprise that they have increasingly drawn heavy fire, with reports claiming around two dozen Pantsir-S1 units destroyed recently by retaliatory airstrikes. But UAVs are vulnerable to many types of attacks, says Dan Gettinger, founder of the Center for the Study of the Drone at Bard College in New York. As an example, he cites the growing use of electronic warfare to bring down UAVs.
Ultimately, one lesson from the Middle East might be that UAVs should no longer be viewed as precious aircraft of an elite few. “I often think of Turkey as an example of what the next group of drone operating countries is going to look like. They’ve built their own industry and they rely on drones quite a lot,” Gettinger says. “I think the aggressive use of drones instead of manned aircraft in geopolitically sensitive and risky areas is probably what we’re going to see more of in future.”
Garrett ReimGarrett ReimGarrett Reim is a military aviation reporter based in Los Angeles. He reports on military aircraft manufacturers and operators in North and South America. Send him your confidential tips, press releases and story ideas via [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter via @garrettreim.
 

Zeeman

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Serbia Reveals Chinese Armed UAV Fleet
Tony Osborne July 06, 2020
CH-92A
Credit: bulgarianmilitary.com

LONDON—The Serbian government has lifted the lid on its new armed unmanned air systems sourced from China, the first nation in the Balkans to acquire such a capability.
The Serbian military showed off three China Aerospace Science and Technology Corporation (CASC) CH-92As during a presentation for Serbian President Aleksandar Vucic on July 4.
Few details are known about the CH-92A. The distinctive fixed-wing unmanned air system uses a twin-boom pusher propeller configuration, analogous to the Turkish Bayraktar TB2 tactical unmanned air system.
Previous references to the CH-92, including on CASC’s own website, refers to a platform with a V-tail configuration.
The UAVs can be armed with a pair of laser-guided FT-8 missiles, which according to the Serbian ministry of defense have a range of 9 km. The range of the UAVs is up to 250 km, operating at altitudes of 16,000 ft. (5,000 m).
In all, six UAVs and 18 missiles have been delivered as part of a technology transfer deal with Beijing, paving the way for an indigenous platform, Pegaz (Pegasus), to be introduced into service. It will also be armed with Chinese weapons.
“We are learning, and we are taking over engineering technology which we have not fully finalized,” Vucic said in statements released by the Serbian defense ministry.
He said the missiles purchased had been proven during the conflict in Yemen, and while “not expensive” they were the “most powerful and deliver the hardest blow to your potential enemy.”
Serbia plans to use the UAVs for intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance duties, as well as strike and artillery fire correction.
“This is becoming a modern way of warfare,” added Vucic. “In that respect we were unable, and we had no chance whatsoever to compete with more serious countries ... now we are starting,” Vucic said.
Media reports had previously suggested that Serbia might receive Wing Loong-model platforms produced by the Chengdu Aircraft Industry Group.
The deal is part of a tightening strategic partnership between Serbia and China that sees Belgrade also supporting Beijing’s controversial Belt and Road initiative.
Beijing has had limited success selling arms to Europe, although in the past it was the exclusive supplier of arms to socialist Albania during the Cold War.
China has had significant success more recently in selling its UAVs in Central Asia, as well as most notably Saudi Arabia and Egypt, in part because of U.S. reluctance to sell American-made systems to those countries.
Serbia’s rearming, most notably by Russia with deliveries of MiG-29s fighters and attack helicopters, could drive an arms race in the Balkans. Nearby Croatia, a member of NATO, has bolstered its armed forces by purchasing surplus U.S. Army Kiowa Warrior scout helicopters equipped with anti-tank missiles and is looking to buy a new fighter jet.


Tony Osborne
Based in London, Tony covers European defense programs. Prior to joining Aviation Week in November 2012, Tony was at Shephard Media Group where he was deputy editor for Rotorhub and Defence Helicopter magazines.
 

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