Print 24 comment(s) - last by 91TTZ.. on Dec 2 at 11:58 AM

He sees dogfighting drones as the future

A retired Israel air chief said that unmanned aerial systems (UAS) are certainly becoming more ubiquitous, but until dogfights can be started between drones, they cannot yet replace manned jet fighters.

Maj. Gen. Eitan Ben Eliyahu, a former Israel Air Force commander, discussed dogfighting drones at an unmanned vehicles conference and air exhibition in Rishon Lezion, south of Tel Aviv on November 26. 

Dogfights are where fighter aircraft perform combat maneuvers at short range and are aware of each other's presence. According to Eliyahu, they're absolutely necessary before unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) can replace traditional manned aircraft. 

Maj. Gen. Eitan Ben Eliyahu [SOURCE: Wikipedia]

“We pilots are the decision makers ... and the claim to fame of fighter pilots are dogfights. So in the future, part of the process of replacing jet fighters with UAVs will be the ability to start dogfights between drones,” said Eliyahu.

According to Eliyahu, air forces are largely trading in expensive fixed-wing and rotary aircraft, which saves on life-cycle and training costs. However, he believes UAVs cannot deter enemies well enough yet.

“UAVs will not contribute enough to deterrence to prevent war,” said Eliyahu. “When the F-35 is operational in Israel, it will have a dramatic effect on deterring our enemies. So even if we have hundreds of UAVs, it won’t impact the balance of power as much as a single squadron of F-35s.”

He added that UAVs are also more susceptible to cyber attacks because they run on networked control. 

Source: Defense News

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True Dat... but...
By Stuka on 11/27/2013 7:50:36 PM , Rating: 3
There can not be, and never will be, unmanned war. If it were that simple, why not just play Top Trumps with economic trivia?

No, sorry. The first person to run out of drones will immediately send in older manned aircraft and soldiers to assassinate the armchair pilots and mechanics ahead of the invading force.

War is hell. Any attempt to make it less deadly will fail.

RE: True Dat... but...
By jimbojimbo on 11/28/2013 1:01:35 AM , Rating: 4
The first person to run out of drones will immediately send in older manned aircraft and soldiers to assassinate the armchair pilots and mechanics
What? What the hell is the point of winning an air battle then? The side that wins the initial drone wars could you know, use the drones to attack the rest of the opposition with complete air superiority.
An unmanned battle is merely to decide which side is going to start losing people not just more drones.
Why does this guy think a drone can't out dogfight a human? The most maneuverable of jets these days are limited by the human pilots since they'd just pass out if there were even more maneuverable. With nobody inside it can bank or accelerate in either direction as much as the chassis will allow it. Humans wouldn't have a chance. Either way though air combat these days is all about radar, heat, missile tracking, and jamming. Dog fight? This guy needs to see it's 2013.

RE: True Dat... but...
By inperfectdarkness on 11/28/2013 4:09:38 AM , Rating: 5
Agreed with respect to "winning" the initial drone-strike. Whatever the first-strike weapon is that is fielded...whoever wins that round is in the best position for follow-on attacks. Compensating for a loss of all drones by using legacy (or even new) manned aircraft is yielding a head-start to the opposing team. With the speed of offensive weapons today (read: cyberwarfare), losing the opening stage of a war is virtual defeat. This isn't 1800's style maneuver warfare, where you can lick your wounds, regroup, and come back to hand your enemy defeat in the following days. We're talking about complete and utter incapacitation of enemy ability to fight within a matter of hours.

As to the "worthless fleshbag" idea, any seasoned combat pilot will tell you that--as of yet--there has been no device which replaces the "seat-of-the-pants" or "gut" feeling that comes with being in the actual cockpit. It is this sort of sixth-sense about enemy tactics, maneuver, etc...that is impossible to recreate via remote link--let alone craft within the brain of an autonomous machine (although we're getting closer).

Dogfighting--i.e. visual-realm encounters--are still very much a part of air-air combat. all the radar, missiles, FLIR, etc...doesn't account for a hill of beans when your enemy is beaming, flaring, chaffing, etc. But what would I know? I only control air-air engagements for a living...

RE: True Dat... but...
By Owik2008 on 11/28/2013 8:01:42 AM , Rating: 3
Either way though air combat these days is all about radar, heat, missile tracking, and jamming. Dog fight?

You may want go look up the Vietnam War and how the F-4 Phantom was developed without a gun. Then go read up why they put the gun back in - dogfight requirements. You also may want to go read up on the non-delivery of AMRAAM missiles to the USAF (that includes your drones).

In the future, even if it was just drones, air combat maneuvres is what will win the air war. So assuming you can emulate the situational awareness that a pilot has to a remote pilot. It is still going to come down to one human vs another. AI is not going to cut it, not for a long time anyway.

RE: True Dat... but...
By Murloc on 11/28/2013 9:52:23 AM , Rating: 2
when manner fighters will be retired, it will be because drones can dogfight better than them and shoot them down.
So what you said won't work anymore.
Before that happens there's no way traditional fighters get retired.

Gimme a call...
By sorry dog on 11/27/2013 10:49:52 PM , Rating: 2
When drones are advanced enough and trusted enough to carry live human passengers then maybe drones can make the cut against human adversaries. Until then....boring news.

RE: Gimme a call...
By jimbojimbo on 11/28/2013 1:03:52 AM , Rating: 3
Why the hell should it carry a human? That's the weakest part! A true drone would maneuver in such a way the human would become jello inside.

RE: Gimme a call...
By sorry dog on 11/28/2013 7:06:47 PM , Rating: 2
I didn't say it should carry people. I was making this thing called a comparison. But I digress...

If a drone is smart enough and trustworthy enough for people to accept them as airline pilots, then they might be smart or rather adaptive enough to fight an air war as a front line fighter. But if the majority of folks don't trust them enough to carry self loading freight then I don't think it's fair to put lives of ground soldiers at the mercy of those drones.

I'll tell you right now that I don't see level of tech that drones are currently at booting pilots out of the right seat and much less the left anytime in the next 20 years.

RE: Gimme a call...
By CSMR on 12/1/2013 6:29:45 PM , Rating: 2
Artificial airline pilots need to be more than 99.999999% reliable before people will accept them. If they were only 99.999999% reliable that would be 1 crash caused by them every 3 years, not acceptable to the public.

By contrast imagine a very unreliable drone which takes out an enemy plane with 50% probability, does friendly fire with 10% probability, and is shot down with 30% probability. Even with these numbers it's still worth it. Expected enemy losses = 50% times cost of a plane, expected friendly losses = 40% times cost of a drone.

RE: Gimme a call...
By CSMR on 12/1/2013 6:35:36 PM , Rating: 2
Edit: didn't see you referred to freight not passengers. Take off a couple of 9s but the point stands.

RE: Gimme a call...
By inperfectdarkness on 11/28/2013 4:01:14 AM , Rating: 2
They are already working on unmanned cargo aircraft to replace the aging fleets currently in service. Adding "human passengers" to these aircraft isn't too much of a stretch, I would say. I would not at all be surprised to see an unmanned C-130 successor in operational service within the next 25 years.

By djcameron on 11/28/2013 12:20:20 AM , Rating: 3
While I'm extremely pro-military (and a veteran)...when was the last real dogfight?

RE: Dogfight?
By inperfectdarkness on 11/28/2013 3:58:50 AM , Rating: 3
Depends on how you define it. The last air-air shootdown during war occurred in the late 1990's. There were a few in Desert Storm. Israel has shot down quite a few earlier than that.

I'm not saying that it can't happen, but look what happened when we took guns off the F-4, swearing that all engagements would happen at long range. Aerial dogfighting is the crux to air-superiority...and by extension, the cornerstone of combat operations. Just because we don't have to use it doesn't mean that it is an expendable combat capability.

RE: Dogfight?
By bug77 on 11/28/2013 5:03:48 AM , Rating: 2
Plus, you'd think having 20-30 drones in the air against each enemy fighter would make dogfights a non-issue. This is assuming drones will become much cheaper than they are today. Just get the swarm airborne, fire a bazillion missiles, problem solved.

RE: Dogfight?
By Reclaimer77 on 11/28/2013 6:04:17 PM , Rating: 2
when was the last real dogfight?

"That's classified.."

I'm not so sure
By Solandri on 11/28/2013 2:33:09 AM , Rating: 3
While the big UAVs like the Predator get all the media attention, the vast majority of UAVs deployed are the little ones the grunts in the field use. The Army has 7000 of these:

If you're flying a $150 million aircraft burning $100,000 worth of fuel to fire a $80,000 missile to take out a $35,000 drone, I'd call that a win for the drone. Just mass-produce the drones and you'll win by simple economics.

RE: I'm not so sure
By inperfectdarkness on 11/28/2013 4:13:21 AM , Rating: 2
Not exactly apples to apples comparison. That $35,000 UAV doesn't even remotely have any combat capability--let alone an air-air one. A shoulder-fired stinger missile will take out that UAV for a fraction of the UAV's cost--and because it doesn't have any ordinance--the manpads operator doesn't have any risk.

RE: I'm not so sure
By 91TTZ on 12/2/2013 11:49:46 AM , Rating: 2
A Stinger missile costs about $80k. So using it to shoot down a $35k UAV wouldn't be cost effective (unless you really didn't want that UAV relaying information). In that case you can just make a fleet of cheap $1k drones so the enemy wastes money firing missiles at it.

RE: I'm not so sure
By sorry dog on 11/28/2013 7:23:49 PM , Rating: 2
You mean like this kind of media attention...

Drone accident rate is like 2 to 3 times what the F-16 is.... An the F-16 is a much higher performance aircraft which much higher piloting demands. But for some reason some people seem to think they are ready for prime time because of reasons like a drone in can pull more G's... in theory.

This is like Navy carrier diehard supporters
By StrangerGuy on 11/28/2013 4:13:51 AM , Rating: 2
That new X technology cannot replace or defeat <insert existing mainstream technology> because you expect or want the X to operate in the existing manner which they don't have to.

By 91TTZ on 12/2/2013 11:58:34 AM , Rating: 2
I think that reality shows that it's the other way around. You end up designing an expensive, more capable system that is superior in every way to the old method. Yet when an actual war comes along you find that you simply can't afford to keep using such overpriced hardware. So you fall back on the old way.

Example: Cruise missiles have a much longer range than battleship rounds, have almost as much explosive power, and can be fired from very small vessels. In peacetime they decided that battleships no longer have any purpose and decommissioned them. But when wars came along it just wasn't cost effective to keep firing $1 million disposable missiles at each target. Parking battleships off the coast was cost effective since they could keep lobbing cheap shells at the enemy. While you wouldn't be able to use a battleship against a high-tech enemy such as the Soviet Union most of our engagements were not with superpowers.

By Captain Awesome on 11/28/2013 12:53:46 PM , Rating: 2
Enemy UAV spotted!

By garagetinkerer on 11/30/2013 1:56:42 AM , Rating: 2
Was i alone in thinking of "Hunter Killers"? :P

By aristotlexjj621 on 11/27/13, Rating: -1
"It looks like the iPhone 4 might be their Vista, and I'm okay with that." -- Microsoft COO Kevin Turner
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