Pilot vs. Pilotless craft.

A51dude

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Hardly a week doesn't go by when I haven't read or heard of one of the U.S. armed services developing and/or deploying some sort of autonomous unmanned vehicle for future armed conflicts.
As much as I like reading about all the technological developments that the U.S. and/or other militaries are developing for UAV/UCAV's, I am starting to get fed up with all this "unmanned" crap. Yes, I understand militaries want to keep pilots and soldiers out of harm's way and reduce casualties, but the mission of any military IS to go into harm's way. And sometimes, the only way to do that IS with the human element.
Are UAV’s and UCAV’s everything they claim to be? Are we putting too much faith in them? Will pilots and piloted aircraft be a thing of the past? Will there ever still be a need for a “human element” in a cockpit? Have we now reduced military conflict to the point where operators are now sitting in front of a video monitor with a joystick in their hands, and putting combat pilots on the unemployment line? If so, maybe we should just get rid of all our soldiers and have video game players conduct future battles instead. :p While it is true that UAV/UCAV’S can do some missions better than a piloted craft can, they are still limited by various factors like speed, range, altitude, payload, command & control, etc. Today’s “UAV/UCAV air forces” are still in their infancy in the early 21st Century. It will be quite some time before we see “fleets” of UAV/UCAV’s doing aerial battles in the skies.
I kinda fear what the U.S. military might become in the future. Seems to me we're just copying/repeating what was seen in the Terminator movie franchise: Putting all the decision making, warfighting, etc. into the hands of computers. Yes, I know it's just science fiction, but there's an old phrase that comes to mind: "Science fiction has a tendency of becoming science FACT.".
Have we not learned anything from history? Especially the Vietnam conflict? US Air Force and US Navy kill ratios were horrible during that conflict until we finally had to go "back to the basics" so to speak and start learning air combat maneuvering (ACM) all over again with the advent of the Top Gun and Red Flag schools/exercises. People who forget history are often doomed to repeat it. And that's what it seems like the U.S. military is doing.
Perhaps the quote below best sums up my feelings on piloted vs. unmanned craft. Only a human has that intuition, drive, resourcefulness, determination, instinct, and other factors that UAV/UCAV’s lack in order to succeed in whatever mission may be called for.
“Only the spirit of attack borne of a brave heart will bring success to any fighter aircraft, no matter how highly developed it may be.” - Luftwaffe ace Adolph Galland

What are other people's thoughts on this issue?
 

Deltafan

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About the future, or not, of UAV/UCAV I see two problems :

-Highly fundamental : What does the UCAV when the signal of its operator (or maybe later its electronic functions) is (are) effectively jammed ?

-Potential : What will do the UCAV if the future of the manned fighter becomes (for example) this ? :
 

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Rickshaw

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Does it matter where the pilot sits? In the aircraft itself or a caravan a thousand kilometres away?
 

sferrin

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Kadija_Man said:
Does it matter where the pilot sits? In the aircraft itself or a caravan a thousand kilometres away?

It does if you want to ensure control.
 

Rickshaw

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sferrin said:
Kadija_Man said:
Does it matter where the pilot sits? In the aircraft itself or a caravan a thousand kilometres away?

It does if you want to ensure control.

You're assuming it's possible to jam the control link. Not always possible.
 

sferrin

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Kadija_Man said:
sferrin said:
Kadija_Man said:
Does it matter where the pilot sits? In the aircraft itself or a caravan a thousand kilometres away?

It does if you want to ensure control.

You're assuming it's possible to jam the control link. Not always possible.

Not always impossible either.
 

Arjen

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sferrin said:
Kadija_Man said:
Does it matter where the pilot sits? In the aircraft itself or a caravan a thousand kilometres away?

It does if you want to ensure control.
You're both assuming a remotely controlled vehicle. AI-controlled/autonomous vehicles would not be dependent on a control link. I find the idea of AI programmed to kill disturbing, but maybe that is what awaits us.
 

Reaper

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There are trends in aircraft, every ten years a new one. In the 2000s UAVs were en vogue. Experts predicted that the F-22 were the last manned fighter and there would be only UAVs in the future. Ten years later it became apparent that UAVs arent necessarily cheaper than manned planes and now people start talking about Optionally Piloted Vehicles instead of UAVs.
 

Abraham Gubler

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A51dude said:
“Only the spirit of attack borne of a brave heart will bring success to any fighter aircraft, no matter how highly developed it may be.” - Luftwaffe ace Adolph Galland

What are other people's thoughts on this issue?

Galland is talking about courage. To win one must risk their own death. Many humans have a problem with this. Robots don't. They only have the sense we tell them to have.
 

Reaper

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What I wanted to add: It depends on the size of the conflict if the government is willing to lose soldiers. Current dimetral wars, losing soldiers? - No not really. Second world war size - D-Day operation and casualties are acceptable.

Btw a computer just won in a game of Go against a really experienced human player. And as humans we still need to figure out how he did that. So for the first time we can learn from a computer. Thats huge!
 

yasotay

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I for one, welcome our computer overlords.
 

Deltafan

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Another fact about the (future too) problems of the UCAV...

https://www.flightglobal.com/news/articles/usaf-still-doesnt-know-why-its-block-1-mq-9s-fail-423253/
 

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