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Navy stealth bomber drone  (Source: IBtimes)
Navy stealth drone take to the skies

The Air Force gets a large portion of the funds allotted to military spending in order to develop costly new aircraft programs and to maintain existing aircraft. The Air Force is still in the middle of a bidding process to replace the aging aerial tanker fleet in use, and last September the USAF also announced that a new bomber was critical for the defense of the nation.

When the USAF first mentioned the need for a new bomber the rough outline was for a conventional bomber built on existing technology that would be purchased in larger numbers than the current B-2. The USAF is now scaling back their vision for that aircraft in the face of a tough budget crunchDefense News reports that the Air Force has noted that its plans for the bomber will be less ambitious than it previously envisioned. 

The lowered expectations for the new bomber will allow the USAF to better manage the program and will make it easier for the contractor that builds the aircraft to deliver on their promises.

General Norton Schwartz said, "We're not going to be as ambitious as we perhaps were at one time." He continued, "And that kind of thing will make it easier for us to manage and less challenging for industry to keep their promises."

The Air Force might lower initial costs by making the aircraft easy to upgrade later in its operational life for new capabilities. For instance, the aircraft doesn't need nuclear capability now, but later it might. The bomber would be built with the space needed for wiring and hardening for electromagnetic protection so it can be cheaply upgraded for nuclear payloads. 

While the USAF is being less ambitious about its future bomber, the Navy is hitting a milestone with its new unmanned stealth bomber. The X-47B is a stealth bomber that looks like a shrunken down version of the B-2. The Navy has announced that the aircraft has taken its maiden flight

Capt. Jamie Engdahl, program manager for the Unmanned Combat Air System Demonstration said, "Today we got a glimpse towards the future as the Navy's first-ever tailless, jet-powered unmanned aircraft took to the skies."

The maiden flight for the X-47B lasted 29 minutes and the aircraft flew at up to 5,000 feet with landing gear down. The flight is the first in a series of 50-flights planned for the year of testing. Once the first plane finishes its testing, the second aircraft will start and after testing is completed the aircraft will be sent to the Patuxent River Naval Air Station for the rest of the carrier demonstration program.

Rear Adm. Bill Shannon, Program Executive Officer for Unmanned Aviation and Strike Weapons said, "We are breaking new ground by developing the first unmanned jet aircraft to take off and land aboard a flight deck. This demonstration program is intended to reduce risk for potential future unmanned systems operating in and around aircraft carriers."



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RE: unmanned bombers
By DanNeely on 2/10/2011 1:17:21 PM , Rating: 2
In theory yes, but in practice by frequency adgile spread spectrum systems are much harder to jam than conventional broadcasts.

If you divide your broadcast area into 10,000 channels and only transmit on one of them at a time, then a broad spectrum jammer would need to put 10,000x as much RF energy onto the receiver as the intended transmitter. By switching among channels very rapidly on a psuedorandom (or completely random and pre-loaded at takeoff) pattern a narrow spectrum jammer will have a very hard time finding each new frequency and shifting to it before the next hop.


RE: unmanned bombers
By dgingeri on 2/10/2011 3:31:02 PM , Rating: 3
in addition, these unmanned drones could be programmed to go to a specific target, bomb it, and return with little to no communication with the controllers. They can even be programmed to go to an area, loiter around for up to 8 hours, and return if no targets are sent to it. With their minimal radar signature, long range, long loiter times, and small size, these things would be almost invisible to anyone except those who know it is there. They're far cheaper to buy and to run than full size bombers, as well.

These little things could be our best hope for peaceful relations with other countries, because they could never be certain we'd have anything in the area ready to bomb the heck out of them with a response time of minutes and a window of sending the command on less than .1 seconds. Nobody would mess with us, even without nukes. We wouldn't need any nukes with these things.


RE: unmanned bombers
By PorreKaj on 2/10/11, Rating: 0
RE: unmanned bombers
By dgingeri on 2/10/2011 5:07:31 PM , Rating: 3
Think about it. go into a rough bar and look for the biggest, strongest guy in the bar. Nobody messes with him because they know they'd get their butt beat in. Strength and power are the biggest means for peace. Once in a while someone else bigger might come along, but that's not often, and it is not going to happen to us.

The biggest threat we have to worry about is China, and they wouldn't dare attack us because their whole economy is based on us. They attack, their whole economy collapses, our economy will hurt, but it will get better in the long run, they lose. Nobody else comes close. With these unmanned stealth bombers, it gets a whole lot less likely.


RE: unmanned bombers
By headbox on 2/10/11, Rating: 0
RE: unmanned bombers
By kingius on 2/11/2011 7:32:32 AM , Rating: 1
Peace is built upon mutual understanding and cooperation. People do not attack the big man in the bar and because he is /not/ threatening them... I repeat because he is NOT THREATENING he is instead acting himself in a peaceful manner.

The idea that it is force, that creates peace, is one of the most foolish ideas in the history of mankind and continues to lead us down the path of poisonous paranoia.


RE: unmanned bombers
By dgingeri on 2/11/2011 10:39:33 AM , Rating: 3
you really have no concept of human behavior, do you?

all through grade school through high school, I was one of the smallest kids. I was peaceful and shy, yet people constantly came after me. I was beaten up and had my head shoved in the toilet more often than I would like to count. I was an easy target.

after high school, through college, and even through my early working years, I had people constantly goad me into fights. I never did, but the threat was always there whenever I'd go out with friends, I was smaller and skinnier than my friends, and I'd have some big muscle bound jerk start bumping my chair, making comments on how I was dressed, even had a couple spill beer on me and tell me to pay for their new one. It was constant. I got to the point where I'd just refuse to go out anymore because of the constant threat. I was small. I was an easy target. At 5'8" and 135lbs, I wasn't very able to defend myself.

However, when I hit 30, my body started changing. I was finally able to start building muscle. I gained weight and got a lot stronger. By age 31, I was at 210, and at 38 I'm now 225. I can benchpress my weight. I can leg press 4 times my weight. It wasn't exercise changes, since I was far more physically active and lifting far heavier stuff back when I was working retail in my early 20s than I am today racking 3-5 servers per week. People just don't mess with me anymore.

There are many people out there that target the weak. They beat them down and take from them. I have a coworker right who doesn't go out grocery shopping, he orders his groceries delivered, because he's had such problems with other people harassing him. He's in his mid 40's, but he's 6' and barely 150lbs. I sympathize with him. I was there. It is only through strength that a person can be secure from these type people. There are a great many people out there who will go after anyone who looks weak for their own entertainment or profit.

Many of these type people, due to the way power and leadership work, make it to leadership positions in governments. (The lazier ones usually end up being police officers, but that's a who different story.) Venezuela, North Korea, and Iran are perfect examples of that. The only way a country can be secure, both internally and externally, is through military power. That's not necessarily numbers, but technology and training are far more useful. If the three countries I mentioned above had more power, they'd be waging constant war on everyone around them.

peace with other countries will never be solely "mutual understanding and cooperation". Power has to be there, or that country will just become another target. Power is the only thing that will deter the likes of Venezuela, North Korea, or Iran.


RE: unmanned bombers
By kingius on 2/11/2011 10:51:50 AM , Rating: 1
You're wrong about me having no concept of human behaviour. You have no idea what - or who - you are judging, so try not to jump to conclusions.

However, I can quite clearly draw some conclusions from you and your story. You believe that your experiences extend out from your own life and into the laws of the universe themselves, so anybody in your position would have had the same thing happen in the same way. This is a fallacy. You are unique and so is your story; one story among billions. It is worth remembering that your path through life is not the only path, your fate is not anothers.

We achieve great things in life through cooperation. Love is the glue that binds us together, not money, not bullets and the threat of force. A parent's love for a child, a husbands love for wife, the love of two friends. Only a fool would not know this.


RE: unmanned bombers
By mudgiestylie on 2/12/2011 4:35:31 PM , Rating: 2
so MAD didn't prevent the cold war from turning hot? speak softly and carry a big stick. the threat of force doesn't create peace, because a threat by itself is conflict. however threats can prevent bloodshed. predators in the wild generally don't go after prey that can easily defend itself, because it values its own safety. same in human society. peace comes from mutual respect, but people tend not to have respect for those they view as weak.


RE: unmanned bombers
By SPOOFE on 2/12/2011 7:25:54 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
We achieve great things in life through cooperation

Correction: Rational people achieve great things in life through cooperation. Not all leaders are rational, nor are all countries composed predominantly of especially rational or educated people. How would you suggest we cooperate with, say, North Korea?


RE: unmanned bombers
By JediJeb on 2/13/2011 9:49:29 AM , Rating: 2
You have a point but miss out on practicality. Love may be the glue that binds us together, but what happens when one side has no love for the other? In a perfect world your ideals would be great but we do not live in a perfect world.

If you have an enemy that is fully intent on destroying you because they hate you, no matter how much you love them you will end up destroyed by them if you do not defend yourself.

Iran has made it completely clear that they believe Israel should be wiped from the face of the earth. The day they know that no other country like the US will come to the aid of Israel if attacked they will try to do just that. It is not love between Israel and Iran that is keeping that war from starting. It may be love between Israel and the US that causes the US to be ready to defend Israel that keeps that war from beginning, but only the strength of the US an Israel forces will deter Iran from starting a war.

If you truly believe what you are saying I challenge you to stand in the middle of Tehran and shout at the top of your lungs "Iran should love Israel", I think you would soon discover how a strong defense is vital to survival.


RE: unmanned bombers
By nafhan on 2/10/2011 5:17:05 PM , Rating: 3
You say BULL, but I don't see a suggested alternative. What's your idea? Ask everyone to be nice to each other?


RE: unmanned bombers
By kingius on 2/11/11, Rating: 0
RE: unmanned bombers
By Manch on 2/11/2011 8:49:53 AM , Rating: 3
quote:
there is no security at the end of a gun..


There is if you're the one holding it.


RE: unmanned bombers
By kingius on 2/11/2011 10:44:17 AM , Rating: 2
That's a fallacy.

At the earliest opportunity, the person you are coercing through force will attempt to reverse the nature of that very relationship _because_ of the one sided nature of it.

To understand this, you have to put yourself in the position of someone who is being coerced against their will, at gun point. You will not like it, nor the person doing it to you. You will seek fairness and justice and perhaps revenge.

If you want to live in a world where you don't have to watch your back, you have to wake up to the fact that aggressive actions lead to more, further aggressive actions back at you. There is no safety in such a world, no peaceful cooperation, no mutual respect, instead there is something more akin to barbarism.


RE: unmanned bombers
By nafhan on 2/11/2011 11:13:59 AM , Rating: 2
If the weapon is for security and being used in such manner, then without the weapon you'd already be at the wrong end of the relationship, and the fact that the nature of the relationship may get reversed is irrelevant. Your argument only applies to purely offensive actions, not "security".
Also, how do you propose to keep people from engaging in aggressive actions (or convince them, I guess, since no weapons/force allowed)?


RE: unmanned bombers
By Manch on 2/11/2011 2:35:23 PM , Rating: 3
Not a fallacy, reality.

I have a gun. I dont go around coercing people. I have some for hunting and others for defense/detterence. Sad fact of the matter is their are people in the world who will take from others who can't or aren't willing to defend themselves. We live in a world where you need to watch your back. Wether you're talking about an a community, a state, or a nation, there are people outside and within willing to take regardless of the consequences to themselves or others. Having weapons for the purpose of detterence does not make one a bully, it just makes you prepared and keeps them in check.

Having a gun doesnt make me aggressive. Breaking into my house, or trying to harm me or my family makes me aggressive. Fortunately, I've never had to shoot anybody, and I dread the day if it ever comes. If I have to choose between them or my family, they'll be at bad end of my gun.

If you want to live in a world where you don't have to watch your back, you have to wake up to the fact that detterence prevents aggressive actions that could lead to more further aggressive actions. If someone realizes they can take from you whatever they want, whats to stop them from continuing to take from you?


RE: unmanned bombers
By SPOOFE on 2/12/2011 7:34:13 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
At the earliest opportunity, the person you are coercing through force will attempt to reverse the nature of that very relationship _because_ of the one sided nature of it.

If you're dealing with a person who will attack you at the earliest opportunity if you're NOT pointing a gun at him, pointing a gun at him may be the only way to prevent a fight. We must also be prepared to accept that there may be NO way to prevent a fight.

quote:
If you want to live in a world where you don't have to watch your back, you have to wake up to the fact that aggressive actions lead to more, further aggressive actions back at you.

That's why Japan is our bitter, bitter enemy and would never consider being one of our best allies and trading partners, right?


RE: unmanned bombers
By Solandri on 2/10/2011 4:12:38 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
These little things could be our best hope for peaceful relations with other countries, because they could never be certain we'd have anything in the area ready to bomb the heck out of them with a response time of minutes and a window of sending the command on less than .1 seconds. Nobody would mess with us, even without nukes. We wouldn't need any nukes with these things.

That sounds a lot like the "What if you could have sex with anyone you wanted?" question. It sounds great, until you're asked the corollary: "What if anyone who wanted could have sex with you?"

The progress of technology is inevitable. We won't be the only country with these. In time, maybe 10-25 years, countries like Iran will get them. In 25-50 years, your average Joe, including terrorists, will be able to get them. Like nukes, eventually everyone will have them. We can't make a decision about these based on how great it'll be while we're the only ones with them. We have to decide based on whether we want to arrive at a world with them sooner or later.

In fact, the best argument I can think of to develop these is "we want to figure out the engineering problems with them before rogue nations and terrorists do".


RE: unmanned bombers
By Iaiken on 2/10/2011 6:41:18 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
"we want to figure out the engineering problems with them before rogue nations and terrorists do".


Tried that with nuclear weapons...

Enemy powers simply stole the technology and started building their own. Once it exists, anyone who wants them and has the funds to build them will find a way to have them. Look at Pakistan and Iran...


RE: unmanned bombers
By kingius on 2/11/2011 8:08:20 AM , Rating: 2
Exactly.

If there is anything that history can teach us, it's that the ends /are/ the means; there is no seperation. World war two was won with a gigantic bomb; we have all grown up in a world of fear of even bigger bombs.


RE: unmanned bombers
By SPOOFE on 2/12/2011 7:36:46 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
we have all grown up in a world of fear of even bigger bombs.

But he HAVEN'T, I've noticed, grown up in a world of fear of Japanese imperialism and expansionism.


RE: unmanned bombers
By boobo on 2/10/2011 6:26:49 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
in addition, these unmanned drones could be programmed to go to a specific target, bomb it, and return with little to no communication with the controllers.
What would be the benefit of that over a Tomahawk or other smart missile?


RE: unmanned bombers
By Iaiken on 2/10/2011 6:34:35 PM , Rating: 2
quote:
What would be the benefit of that over a Tomahawk or other smart missile?


You can reuse the part of the missile that flew the payload to the target. Duh.


RE: unmanned bombers
By Azsen on 2/11/2011 7:37:58 AM , Rating: 2
These planes will have some fancy evasive maneuvers built into them or can do some amazing stunts when piloted remotely. They're more advanced than the Predator and Reaper. You can bet they can avoid SAMs and other defenses while en route to the target. Cruise missiles also have a limited range and are not stealthy. You can detect them coming and intercept if you're fast. This bomber would fly in mostly undetected then deliver the payload. On the off chance it encountered resistance it could pull some serious maneuvers and still complete the mission. Being a pilotless bomber it's not constrained by how many G Forces the pilot can handle.

Perhaps a good example is this scene in Skyline:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=99jt1UCpDNU


RE: unmanned bombers
By SPOOFE on 2/12/2011 7:41:41 PM , Rating: 2
I imagine the drones can probably hang around an area for a lot longer than a cruise missile; one can be in place for the exact moment for a strike, rather than anticipating a target's position an hour in advance (or whatever).


"I'm an Internet expert too. It's all right to wire the industrial zone only, but there are many problems if other regions of the North are wired." -- North Korean Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il

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