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Vulnerability of UAVs and remotely GPS guided weapons

Woody

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Since great success has been achieved in jamming and spoofing radars and communications, why have western (and now Russian it seams) armed forces put so much store in UAVs and remotely GPS guided weapons? These system are promoted endlessly as the way forward for weapons technology with barely a mention of how they would avoid jamming and even less on how UAVs would avoid subversion.

Pilot-less guided weapons have been with us for decades in the form of bombs, torpedoes and missiles but their designs have used inertial reference, narrow beam or wire guidance or direct line of sight sensors that are difficult to defeat. UAVs and remotely GPS guided weapons have none of these features.

There is anecdotal evidence that even Iraq was able to jam GPS bombs in Desert Storm with a French made system and the internet is filled with information on the problems of intentional and unintentional GPS jamming, yet more and more military system have become dependent on it. Reconnaissance UAVs and UCAV will be dependent on radio communications of some sort once over the horizon so why is it not feasible for a sophisticated adversary (with their own satellites?) to subvert them and perhaps send them back to attack their owners?

To save a bit of time please make your answers considered but not just techno-gibberish. I know US military GPS is more powerful than civilian and uses it's own frequencies but so do their enemies. Also obviously UAV communication would be encrypted but encryption can be broken and if not it can still jammed.

Cheers, Woody

PS. Do military satellites ever get hijacked or hacked?, they'd have to be the ultimate unpiloted vehicles.
 

Just call me Ray

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I don't know about GPS, but ultimately the solution for UAVs/UCAVs is to make them autonomous, thereby forgoing the need for external input altogether. IIRC the Global Hawk is already capable of this.
 

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Woody & all,

Jam UPS signals? Sure, that's do-able. The frequencies they operate on are pretty well known and all it would take to jam them is to start broadcasting a powerful enough signal to drown out theirs.

You see the problem with doing this on a modern battlefield?

Anything that's broadcasting a signal - particularly one powerful enough to hose up a GPS reliant system - is also making itself a very, very clear target on the battlefield.

Also, both GPS signals and satellite relayed signals are coming down to the receiver. Any ground based jamming attempts would be coming up. That makes it a lot easier to discern which is the real and which is the spoofed.

That said, you can bet your bottom dollar that there's plenty of folks spending lots of big bucks working to keep our communication capabilities secure.

Madoc
 

LowObservable

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You also have to consider that there are not many (if any) GPS-guided systems. There are a lot of GPS-inertial guided systems. The primary system is inertial and the GPS is an update and error-correction device. You can therefore use logic to eliminate any completely goofy signal from the GPS. This also means that to have a good chance of throwing the weapon off course you need to jam the GPS over a good period of time. Not as easy as it sounds.
 

Woody

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It took a little wile but thanks for the replies.

Your responses seem to fall into 3 areas.
1) a jammer would be vulnerable.
2) a GPS signal has to come from orbit.
3) no system relies solely on GPS.
All good points but...

Firstly, with answer 1), could the same not be said of any battlefield jammer, be it for radar or communication? Also the world's military don't seem to have a problem with powerful early warning and control radars in the theater so why would GPS jammers be any worse? And unlike these other transmitters the ground based GPS jammer jams most of the weapons fired at it ;D

Secondly, answer 2) discounts the possibility that the enemy may also have satellites. I believe a lot of modern systems are only appropriate against unsophisticated enemies and this will be a huge problem should a real threat emerge (re-emerge?). Also I don't believe this to be true (that GPS must come from orbit). The USAF has done a lot of work increasing the accuracy of its ALCMs by using ground based differential GPS beacons.

And answer 3) wile I appreciate that it's good to have multiple sensors, if GPS can't be relied upon all the time requiring another system then what's the point. The machine doesn't know when it's getting good data unless it has another fool-proof system to check against, in which case use that! No navigational device works without a degree of inertial reference, not even a compass. But what other system does JDAM have apart from GPS?

My other area of concern, though, was the remote control of UAVs. It's all very well to make them autonomous but you will still need to change their orders mid mission occasionally (or stop them when they go wrong) and in the case of reconnaissance vehicles are you going to wait until they get home before you use any of their data? Transmitting from enemy territory is as much of a giveaway as any other emission so far discussed (yes, I'm still talking about enemies with equivalent technology, not the Talaban). It kind of screws the idea of real-time engagement of time critical targets.

As an aside; you could maybe get it all to work if could destroy all your enemies satellites and stop them from destroying yours but if such a case was true haven't you already won strategically.

And bless you for saying you're sure they're working on it but that's more a statement of faith and not really an explanation.

Cheers Woody

PS. Has nobody anything to say on the subject of hacking satellites(GPS, spy, military coms. etc)? I'm sure I'm not the only one to think of it and the possibilities for mischief would be boundless.
 

RP1

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PS. Has nobody anything to say on the subject of hacking satellites

Is there enough computing power in a satelite to hack? The stereotypical hacks Vs Windows (for example) rely on the complexity. Allthough deep space probes have some degree of flexibility and can be reprogrammed, would an "Earth Observation Satellite" use anything more than a PLC?

RP1
 

Just call me Ray

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My other area of concern, though, was the remote control of UAVs. It's all very well to make them autonomous but you will still need to change their orders mid mission occasionally

Easy - you give them secondary or fall-back orders while they're still on the ground before the mission begins. If that doesn't work, you give them tertiary or abort orders while you're at it.

(or stop them when they go wrong)

Much less likely to happen then what movies would have you believe, and once again you give it self-diagnostic software and abort orders for that while you're still tinkering with it on the ground.

and in the case of reconnaissance vehicles are you going to wait until they get home before you use any of their data? Transmitting from enemy territory is as much of a giveaway as any other emission so far discussed (yes, I'm still talking about enemies with equivalent technology, not the Talaban). It kind of screws the idea of real-time engagement of time critical targets.

I fail to see how that's UAV-specific, a manned platform would have the same problem. Besides, real-time battlefield data transmission is a very new thing, we can do without it if need be.
 

Woody

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Regardless, a U.S. Air Force fighter downed a MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aircraft over Afghanistan on Sunday.

Operators lost control over the unmanned aircraft during its operation. With the UAV headed in a direction where it was about to depart Afghanistan's air space, a U.S. Air Force aircraft brought down the Reaper in what the Air Force says was a remote part of Afghanistan. The type of aircraft or method used to take out the Reaper was not specified.

http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/blogs/defense/index.jsp?plckController=Blog&plckBlogPage=BlogViewPost&newspaperUserId=27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7&plckPostId=Blog%3a27ec4a53-dcc8-42d0-bd3a-01329aef79a7Post%3a32530e23-3fa1-4379-8f67-3f785feb01fd&plckScript=blogScript&plckElementId=blogDest

What was that you were saying about making them autonomous? If this had been a UCAV with air to air capability it could have been a bit more tricky to remedy. Good luck with the blind faith in technology without considering operational realities. ;D

Cheers, Woody
 

Abraham Gubler

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Woody said:
What was that you were saying about making them autonomous? If this had been a UCAV with air to air capability it could have been a bit more tricky to remedy. Good luck with the blind faith in technology without considering operational realities. ;D

You've got to stop watching Michael Bey movies...

If an autonomous UCAV with air to air weapons was to break down like this MQ-9 it would still be dealt with in the same manner. First of all the weapon system has so severally suffered malfunction that it is just flying off in one direction until it runs out of fuel. This is very unlikely to indicate that its weapon systems and autonomous mission and flight control systems are still operational. Secondly said systems will be [are!] programmed not to engage inhabited friendly units even if said friendly unit is doing its damnest to inflict a blue on blue.

Since the autonomous system only has emotions, a sense of self preservation and malice if playing a starring role in the latest Hollywood blockbuster or New York Times Bestsellers List thriller one needed worry about “blind faith” in technology; another attribute that only exists in fictional defence engineers.
 

Woody

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The point was greater independence from human control (including AI) and greater lethality has been suggested as a solution to UAVs' vulnerability to subversion. In the above case this would not have been good.

And the thing about failures is that you don't get to choose in which systems they will occur or else they're not failures - you can either see this or you can't.

Agreed it's not a big problem at the moment but watch this space...

Cheers, Woody

PPS. Who's Michael Bay?
 

donnage99

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Woody said:
PPS. Who's Michael Bay?
You don't know Michael Bay yet you could correct Abraham's typo of his name? Anyway, he's the guy that made Transformers.

Anyway, back to the subject. I think you are confused what "greater independence" in uav mean. It definitely does NOT mean less control for the human sitting back at base. It means less work for the pilot, but his control over the UAV is still there, and not a single ounce of it is taken away. Unless mad scientists designed for them not to be. Secondly, the uav's "thinking" is programmed. If it malfunction, it means it stops working as is programmed, it doesn't mean that it can "think" differently from what it is programmed to do. Things don't magically happen, unless lightning strikes it and awaken a sense of self within its AI like that movie stealth, of course. The "above case" is completely irrelevant if you actually understand the issue thoroughly.
 

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Don't know much on the UCAV/UAV issue with GPS, but with bombs, just fall back to the first wireless guided bomb, the laser-guided bomb. Works better than GPS IMHO as there's no chance of a problem going wrong in guidence and it hitting a spot half a mile away, unless the guy lasing the target sneezes & jerks.
 

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You could only program some sort of autonomous backup system with so much information. If the enemy somehow jams your connection to the UCAV and it turns back to it's base, which would be what it is likely programmed to do, that UCAV hasn't really accomplished anything. As far as running combat missions fully autonomously, way too many target identification issues involved. You still need a guy in charge, even if he isn't really flying the thing until it gets close to the target.

UAVs certainly have their uses but I don't believe we will ever see the day when we rely only on unmanned aircraft.
 

Just call me Ray

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Lampshade111 said:
You could only program some sort of autonomous backup system with so much information. If the enemy somehow jams your connection to the UCAV and it turns back to it's base, which would be what it is likely programmed to do, that UCAV hasn't really accomplished anything.

That's true, but it won't be the only system effected, and it's given that it's an unlikely scenario anyway, so a "mission kill" like this isn't enough justification to say, "oh well let's not even bother."
 

quellish

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Woody said:
Firstly, with answer 1), could the same not be said of any battlefield jammer, be it for radar or communication? Also the world's military don't seem to have a problem with powerful early warning and control radars in the theater so why would GPS jammers be any worse? And unlike these other transmitters the ground based GPS jammer jams most of the weapons fired at it ;D
HARMs and AMRAAMs are two weapons that would be fired at it. Neither is exclusively dependent on GPS. Not many anti-radiation weapons use GPS.

Woody said:
And answer 3) wile I appreciate that it's good to have multiple sensors, if GPS can't be relied upon all the time requiring another system then what's the point. The machine doesn't know when it's getting good data unless it has another fool-proof system to check against, in which case use that! No navigational device works without a degree of inertial reference, not even a compass. But what other system does JDAM have apart from GPS?
INS. This is how it gets better accuracy than GPS can allow.

Woody said:
My other area of concern, though, was the remote control of UAVs. It's all very well to make them autonomous but you will still need to change their orders mid mission occasionally (or stop them when they go wrong) and in the case of reconnaissance vehicles are you going to wait until they get home before you use any of their data? Transmitting from enemy territory is as much of a giveaway as any other emission so far discussed (yes, I'm still talking about enemies with equivalent technology, not the Talaban). It kind of screws the idea of real-time engagement of time critical targets.

High gain satellite links are line of sight. That makes things a bit more tricky for the bad guys, and it makes it a lot harder to find through DF.
 

Abraham Gubler

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Lampshade111 said:
You could only program some sort of autonomous backup system with so much information.

Ahh another expert in UAV systems wades into the debate... A typical UCAV high end UAV has an autonomous flight system as its PRIMARY and only flight control system. Now you don't need to upload the entire collected works of human history to the aircraft to make it an effective autonomous tactical performer. Simply program the parameters of various weapon systems and the decision making algorithms to operate as effectively as human's can imagine. The machine does the rest.

Further why do people assume that UAVs are going to be worse off in a communications denied environment? Are you suggesting we send a manned aircraft without any off board situational awareness into an unknown area? We did that in Vietnam and how many aircrews did it cost? Much better to send the machines off blind than humans. Much better.
 

Lampshade111

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Abraham Gubler said:
Ahh another expert in UAV systems wades into the debate... A typical UCAV high end UAV has an autonomous flight system as its PRIMARY and only flight control system. Now you don't need to upload the entire collected works of human history to the aircraft to make it an effective autonomous tactical performer. Simply program the parameters of various weapon systems and the decision making algorithms to operate as effectively as human's can imagine. The machine does the rest.

Further why do people assume that UAVs are going to be worse off in a communications denied environment? Are you suggesting we send a manned aircraft without any off board situational awareness into an unknown area? We did that in Vietnam and how many aircrews did it cost? Much better to send the machines off blind than humans. Much better.

You won't be able to program a UCAV to autonomously tell the different apart from technical with a few terrorists and a PKM in back to a civilian target. IFF systems are difficult enough as they are, without factoring all the concerns of irregular forces and so forth. It is one thing to have a UAV fly over and take some recordings or photos fully autonomously, but another thing to get live observation to troops on the ground, or deliver precision guided weapons on target. For that you need that man in the loop, and if he is cut off, you effectively lose the ability to perform that task. The USAF will never be at a state where it will be a force of only UAVs being commanded from Nevada. And things only get even more complicated when you consider air-to-air combat.
 

Woody

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Wow - I seam to be getting credited for stuff other people have said, unfortunately it's stuff I don't agree with.

But dealing with the sci-fi stuff first: a stray artillery round doesn't need self-awareness to kill Innocent people. The extra complexity and reduced human criticality of autonomous UCAVs will only increase this.

Countering this by adding extra fail-safe systems are potentially even more things to go wrong (or be attacked).

A sophisticated enemy will try and give an attacking UCAV their own instructions but unlike a good human pilot, the UCAV won't question the orders as long as the format and encryption is correct, whatever it's instructed to destroy.

As far as using satellite communication to hide a UAVs transmissions, that's fine as long as there isn't an enemy satelite in the same piece of sky (and your satelite's transmissions will always be detectable from the ground within a certain footprint if the wavelength is known).

OK, now sit back and wait for the Hollywood answers again :)

Cheers, Woody
 

quellish

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Woody said:
A sophisticated enemy will try and give an attacking UCAV their own instructions but unlike a good human pilot, the UCAV won't question the orders as long as the format and encryption is correct, whatever it's instructed to destroy.

As far as using satellite communication to hide a UAVs transmissions, that's fine as long as there isn't an enemy satelite in the same piece of sky (and your satelite's transmissions will always be detectable from the ground within a certain footprint if the wavelength is known).

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frequency-hopping_spread_spectrum
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptanalysis

Even a sophisticated adversary is not going to outlive the heat death of the universe. The method you are implying would pretty much require either that or compromising the humans in the loop of both the communications system and cryptographic systems.
 

donnage99

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Lampshade111 said:
You won't be able to program a UCAV to autonomously tell the different apart from technical with a few terrorists and a PKM in back to a civilian target.
I agree that it will be a very very long time till the USAF rely solely on ucav. Aside from that, this particular point of yours remind me of the cancelled UCAR. It is exactly designed to differentiate and identify enemies and friends, continously sketching out plan to respond apropriately to the changing environment, then recommend the plans to the human piloted vehicle that is attatched with the UCAR team. The interesting thing here is that the human pilot only has x amount of time to give the final decision. If he does not, the UCAR will proceed to execute its plan. This would mean that the UCAR's ability to recognize and differentiate its target must be much more thorough and complex than what you believe for it to have the ability to execute its plan on its own without pilot's approval.
 

Abraham Gubler

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Lampshade111 said:
You won't be able to program a UCAV to autonomously tell the different apart from technical with a few terrorists and a PKM in back to a civilian target.

Yes you can and they are doing so now. A human can only identify targets like this with our visual capacity. A machine can cross reference visual, IR and radar signatures at resolutions far above the human eye. That's without even going into hyperspectral analysis.

But the greatest fallacy in this argument is that why can’t the machine go back to the human on the ground for a decision about which Landcruiser is the terrorist technical and which one the Red Cross? There is plenty of communications bandwidth to support this kind of networking today and more so tomorrow.

Are you suggesting that we will be fighting the same kind of highly restricted ROE warfare against the same marginally effective enemies in an environment where someone is nuking the GPS and COMSAT constellations? As Mike Meyers would say, “HELLO!”

In a WW3 type scenario the targets become more distinct, the stakes much higher and the world’s tolerance for casualties skyrockets. So the ROEs go out the window and the UCAVs switched to full autonomous and let loose on the enemy.
 

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Abraham Gubler said:
Yes you can and they are doing so now. A human can only identify targets like this with our visual capacity. A machine can cross reference visual, IR and radar signatures at resolutions far above the human eye. That's without even going into hyperspectral analysis.

I think you are underestimating the technology needed here. It is one thing for the seeker on the AIM-9X to pick out an aircraft clearly, another thing for a UCAV's sensors to identify the type of target it is looking at from hundreds of possibilities in a cluttered environment. Even in 2003 we had some IFF problems, in six years the technology hasn't come that far, and it won't for awhile. The much more feasible option in a high ECM, environment with jamming and so forth would be a manned aircraft directing the UCAVs. If the technology costs too much anyway, you lose the whole "low cost" aspect of the UCAVs.

Abraham Gubler said:
Are you suggesting that we will be fighting the same kind of highly restricted ROE warfare against the same marginally effective enemies in an environment where someone is nuking the GPS and COMSAT constellations? As Mike Meyers would say, “HELLO!”

An enemy with the capability to jam communications to UCAVs could still be sending irregular forces against us.

In a WW3 type scenario the targets become more distinct, the stakes much higher and the world’s tolerance for casualties skyrockets. So the ROEs go out the window and the UCAVs switched to full autonomous and let loose on the enemy.

True, but there is still the IFF issue, and I believe we are still far from the day when we have autonomous systems reliable enough to be trusted to do the task alone. UCAVs certainly have their uses, and eventually we probably will have the UCAVs with the capability to pick out enemy AFVs. Yet I cannot picture them fully taking over the role of manned combat aircraft, or operating fully autonomously.
 

Abraham Gubler

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GAU-8 Avenger said:
I think you are underestimating the technology needed here. It is one thing for the seeker on the AIM-9X to pick out an aircraft clearly, another thing for a UCAV's sensors to identify the type of target it is looking at from hundreds of possibilities in a cluttered environment. Even in 2003 we had some IFF problems, in six years the technology hasn't come that far, and it won't for awhile. The much more feasible option in a high ECM, environment with jamming and so forth would be a manned aircraft directing the UCAVs. If the technology costs too much anyway, you lose the whole "low cost" aspect of the UCAVs.

Comparing a IRH seeker (AIM-9X) to ground sensors is completely inaccurate. We have autonomous ground surveillance systems finding targets amongst very cluttered areas today. BFT and IFF works just the same for a UAV as it does for a manned system. Even better because the autonomous system can be programmed to never conflict with IFF or BFT whereas a human can always chose to override it or unintentionally ignore it.

Humans don’t recognise targets by using an element of our sentience or imagination. We do so after rigorous training using learn behaviour. One of the areas in which a machine works better than a human.

The whole directing UAV argument from accompanying fighters is nonsense, dreamed up by aircrew to save their jobs. If we can communicate line of sight why can’t we communicate beyond line of sight? Also the aircrew of a strike fighter in that situation are going to have their own hands full fighting and surviving. Especially since without comms they have no AEW&C and other external situational awareness inputs.

GAU-8 Avenger said:
An enemy with the capability to jam communications to UCAVs could still be sending irregular forces against us.

Yes that is true but we chose to fight irregular forces the way we do. We don’t have to do it this way. If we were fighting Afghanistan the way we fought Vietnam then there would be a lot more JDAMs dropped... If we fought Afghanistan the way we fought WW2 then I doubt there would be anyone left in the country.

Also in the kind of conflict scale likely to be found surrounding disruption of global satellite communications irregular forces count for squat. If someone is destroying satellite constellations or making the clouds glow with the amount of RF being pumped into the sky who cares about which irregular gang is in control of some isolated village in the middle of the third world? No one, because we will be busy fighting for the preservation of zillions of dollars in global trade routes and the massive infrastructure of 1st world economies.

GAU-8 Avenger said:
True, but there is still the IFF issue, and I believe we are still far from the day when we have autonomous systems reliable enough to be trusted to do the task alone. UCAVs certainly have their uses, and eventually we probably will have the UCAVs with the capability to pick out enemy AFVs. Yet I cannot picture them fully taking over the role of manned combat aircraft, or operating fully autonomously.

UCAVs that can autonomously identify and prosecute targets more complex and smaller than AFVs have already been fielded and tested. That trust will never be gained while most people insist on judging these systems without reference to their actual achievements.
 

quellish

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Abraham Gubler said:
Humans don’t recognise targets by using an element of our sentience or imagination. We do so after rigorous training using learn behaviour. One of the areas in which a machine works better than a human.

As someone who has done this, all day, every day, for some time, I can tell they're still not very good at it.

Abraham Gubler said:
The whole directing UAV argument from accompanying fighters is nonsense, dreamed up by aircrew to save their jobs. If we can communicate line of sight why can’t we communicate beyond line of sight?

Bandwidth. There is not enough bandwidth to go around on satellite links right now, and will not be for some time.
 

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Abraham Gubler said:
Comparing a IRH seeker (AIM-9X) to ground sensors is completely inaccurate. We have autonomous ground surveillance systems finding targets amongst very cluttered areas today. BFT and IFF works just the same for a UAV as it does for a manned system. Even better because the autonomous system can be programmed to never conflict with IFF or BFT whereas a human can always chose to override it or unintentionally ignore it.

What are you referring to? A camera that can supposedly pick out a gun a guy might be carrying? Doing that from 10,000 feet in all sorts of weather conditions, where both sides might be exchanging fire on the ground is a bit more challenging. There are going to have to be countless different vehicles and weapons programmed into the thing's database, and in a scenario where allied nations are using similar equipment to that of the enemy (T-72 variants, BMPs, etc.), there is going to be a serious problem. BFT is a larger scale system, and doesn't track units down to individual infantrymen. IFF systems are an art that has yet to be mastered.

Abraham Gubler said:
The whole directing UAV argument from accompanying fighters is nonsense, dreamed up by aircrew to save their jobs. If we can communicate line of sight why can’t we communicate beyond line of sight? Also the aircrew of a strike fighter in that situation are going to have their own hands full fighting and surviving. Especially since without comms they have no AEW&C and other external situational awareness inputs.

Personally I think the idea of a UAV-only air force is nonsense, but everybody has their own opinion on the matter. Such a controlling fighter would probably have a backseater for the task. Besides for the bandwidth issue, in a true World War III scenario, the enemy could be destroying our satellites, which would have a nasty effect on all of our forces, but specifically our UAVs.

UCAVs that can autonomously identify and prosecute targets more complex and smaller than AFVs have already been fielded and tested. That trust will never be gained while most people insist on judging these systems without reference to their actual achievements.

Could I see some information on these projects?
 

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GAU-8 Avenger said:
What are you referring to? A camera that can supposedly pick out a gun a guy might be carrying? Doing that from 10,000 feet in all sorts of weather conditions, where both sides might be exchanging fire on the ground is a bit more challenging. There are going to have to be countless different vehicles and weapons programmed into the thing's database, and in a scenario where allied nations are using similar equipment to that of the enemy (T-72 variants, BMPs, etc.), there is going to be a serious problem.
If a camera can't pick that out, how would your eye balls can? As for identifying, if they are carrying similar weapons, then it comes down to clothing, the actions the targets are taking. If somehow, one of our own uses enemy's uniform, equipments, doing things similar to what the enemy are doing, than the human pilot would also mistake that for enemy just as the machine would.

in a true World War III scenario, the enemy could be destroying our satellites, which would have a nasty effect on all of our forces, but specifically our UAVs.
If satellites and communications break down, piloted aircraft will be as useless as non-piloted aircraft. However, in that scenario, I wouldn't want any pof our ilot in enemy's airspace.
 

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donnage99 said:
If a camera can't pick that out, how would your eye balls can? As for identifying, if they are carrying similar weapons, then it comes down to clothing, the actions the targets are taking. If somehow, one of our own uses enemy's uniform, equipments, doing things similar to what the enemy are doing, than the human pilot would also mistake that for enemy just as the machine would.

Lets use for example many of the recordings from UAVs and attack helicopters from Afghanistan. They take awhile confirming their target, checking with those higher up, who can talk to friendly forces on the ground who may be engaging the enemy. I don't believe an autonomous UAV could do that effectively.

If satellites and communications break down, piloted aircraft will be as useless as non-piloted aircraft. However, in that scenario, I wouldn't want any pof our ilot in enemy's airspace.

It would have something of a crippling effect on most of our forces, yet haven't there been a few exercises recently focusing on operating with such a breakdown of GPS and satellite systems? It is something that has to be considered and addressed in my opinion.
 

donnage99

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GAU-8 Avenger said:
I don't believe an autonomous UAV could do that effectively.
Well, then get informed. What you are talking about was and are being researched.

It would have something of a crippling effect on most of our forces, yet haven't there been a few exercises recently focusing on operating with such a breakdown of GPS and satellite systems? It is something that has to be considered and addressed in my opinion.
Where were these excercises being held? And were they successful in these excercises at all?
 

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donnage99 said:
Where were these excercises being held? And were they successful in these excercises at all?

http://www.310sw.afrc.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123165170
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Flag_(USAF)
http://www.examiner.com/x-5411-Military-and-Civil-Aviation-Examiner~y2009m5d26-Combat-Hammer-Death-from-above
 

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donnage99 said:
Well, then get informed. What you are talking about was and are being researched.

Research, capability in testing, and capability in actual combat operations are rather different things. It is unlikely an fully autonomous UAV would be used against such an enemy anyway. Yet if it was I simply don't believe it is practical due to IFF and collateral damage concerns. Hell, considering the state Iraqi polices forces are often in, it would probably mistake them and the enemy half of the time.

When it comes to conventional war scenarios, the IFF and collateral damage concerns may be less, but I don't believe it is practical compared to a guy controlling that UAV. If the uplink to the UAV is lost, perhaps the UAV could be set (before the mission) to either to immediately return to base, or continue to it's waypoint, destroy enemy vehicle targets it encounters, and then return to base.
 

donnage99

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GAU-8 Avenger said:
Research, capability in testing, and capability in actual combat operations are rather different things. It is unlikely an fully autonomous UAV would be used against such an enemy anyway.
That's why I never said that they will be operational any time soon, but the fact that they are in research, and have been a requirement in a real project with a real operational date shows that it is feasable, and we are getting there.

http://www.310sw.afrc.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123165170
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Flag_(USAF)
http://www.examiner.com/x-5411-Military-and-Civil-Aviation-Examiner~y2009m5d26-Combat-Hammer-Death-from-above
My apology, but I can't find anything in these links that talk about excercising focusing on operating with a breakdown of GPS and satellite systems, much less on the level of their success.
 

quellish

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donnage99 said:
http://www.310sw.afrc.af.mil/news/story.asp?id=123165170
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Flag_(USAF)
http://www.examiner.com/x-5411-Military-and-Civil-Aviation-Examiner~y2009m5d26-Combat-Hammer-Death-from-above
My apology, but I can't find anything in these links that talk about excercising focusing on operating with a breakdown of GPS and satellite systems, much less on the level of their success.
[/quote]

Hmmm OK.
"The 527th (Active Duty) and 26th (Reserve) Space Aggressor Squadrons also provide GPS jamming."
"...despite intense enemy jamming of the Global Positioning System (GPS) signals..."


The point here is that most USAF and NATO exercises are now including GPS denial scenarios. There are units dedicated to GPS jamming and GPS tactics.
Their level of success obviously has operational significance, so good luck there :)
"Sergeants Walker's and Garcia's experience in GPS tactics and tools played a significant role with the mitigation of red forces GPS jamming equipment, while Major Nguyen's missile warning knowledge provided reach-back capabilities to the Defense Support Program for any personnel recovery operations. "
 

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That's hardly any thing called a "break down" in GPS and communication systems that everything gonna have to fall back to the human pilot eyes and ears. These techniques or technology that are said could be programmed into a ucav I suppose.
 

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Abraham Gubler said:
In a WW3 type scenario the targets become more distinct, the stakes much higher and the world’s tolerance for casualties skyrockets. So the ROEs go out the window and the UCAVs switched to full autonomous and let loose on the enemy.

I do not know if it is a good idea to be routinely operating UCAV's in large numbers without a human being in the loop as you describe.
 

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Removed two last posts. Play nicely please. Lectures on war morality are generally off-topic.
 

Abraham Gubler

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PNorwood said:
I do not know if it is a good idea to be routinely operating UCAV's in large numbers without a human being in the loop as you describe.

Such a scenario only applies to a WW2 type conflict. If you are in such a fight for your lives your nation is happy to order the firebombing of other countries cities then you more than have the willingness to accept autonomous control over bombing. This doesn’t mean you are going to be killing more civilians than with manned bombers (probably less) but simply the nation won’t care enough to make sure each bomb dropped as multiple people willing and able to sign off in a court of law that it was dropped on a legitimate target. Since the legal and political system still has trouble accepting testimony from a robot that is why humans in the loop are currently mandated under ROEs for weapons release.
 
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yeah for once i agree with Gubler.
All "morality" , "cost-benefit" blah blah goes out of the window once a WW2 type general war starts.

collateral damage is the least of concerns in such a scenario.
 

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quellish said:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Frequency-hopping_spread_spectrum
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cryptanalysis

Even a sophisticated adversary is not going to outlive the heat death of the universe. The method you are implying would pretty much require either that or compromising the humans in the loop of both the communications system and cryptographic systems.

Thanks Quellish for the wiki info on frequency-hopping and encryption but as shown in the quotes below there is nothing there to suggest either technique would render the hacking of a UCAV impossible.

By itself, frequency hopping provides only limited protection against eavesdropping and jamming. To get around this weakness most modern military frequency hopping radios often employ separate encryption devices

However, cryptanalysis usually excludes methods of attack that do not primarily target weaknesses in the actual cryptography, such as bribery, physical coercion, burglary, keystroke logging, and social engineering, although these types of attack are an important concern and are often more effective than traditional cryptanalysis.

Factoring techniques may continue do so as well, but will most likely depend on mathematical insight and creativity, neither of which has ever been successfully predictable. 150-digit numbers of the kind once used in RSA have been factored. The effort was greater than above, but was not unreasonable on fast modern computers.

Since a detailed knowledge of the system controls of the UCAV would be require to make any hacking worth while one must presume that the enemy already has some espionage assents in your UCAV organisation, so obtaining cryptographic keys is not inconceivable. An enemy in this position would have a huge advantage if they did hack the UCAV since they could potentially lock you out by changing the key! It is unlikely that a UAV operator would have the facilities to decrypt the enemies new key (if they even realised there was a problem) as this would acknowledge the vulnerability of the whole concept and they would therefore not be flying UCAVs in the first place :D

Cheers, Woody

Ps. My last (now removed) post was not an attempt to moralise about war but to point out that autonomous UCAV operations are just as likely to occur over the heads of friendly forces, populations and even the UCAV operators (especially in the air defence role), in which case wrongly identified targets are a bit more of a PR/morale issue than when they are sent deep into enemy territory.
 

donnage99

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Woody said:
....in which case wrongly identified targets are a bit more of a PR/morale issue than when they are sent deep into enemy territory.
But you has yet to show how a pilot can be more reliable at identify targets than a uav, woody ::).
 

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