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posted by janrinok on Monday June 02 2014, @11:36AM   Printer-friendly
from the buddy-can-you-spare-me-a-dime? dept.

The US military's F-35 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft is proving to be a pain in the neck in more ways than one. Not only did the Pentagon spend almost $400 billion to buy 2,400 aircraft - about twice as much as it cost to put a man on the moon - the F-35 program is 7 years behind schedule and $163 billion over budget. This at a time when cuts in the defense budget are forcing the Pentagon to shrink the size of the military. CBS 60 Minutes took a closer look at the troubled fighter plane a few months back, but their rebroadcast on Sunday evening seems like as good a reason as any to revisit one of the biggest ongoing budget debacles in U.S. military memory. David Martin gets an inside look at what makes the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter the most expensive weapons system in history.

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  • (Score: 2) by tibman on Monday June 02 2014, @04:38PM

    by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Monday June 02 2014, @04:38PM (#50287)

    No UCAV has won in a fight against a manned fighter. Surveillance and striking (unknowing) ground targets seems to be the only thing UAVs are currently good at. If UAVs made manned planes pointless then i think Delta Airlines, UPS, and so on would be firing all their pilots right now.

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  • (Score: 2) by wantkitteh on Monday June 02 2014, @06:41PM

    by wantkitteh (3362) on Monday June 02 2014, @06:41PM (#50354) Homepage Journal

    "No UCAV has won in a fight against a manned fighter."

    Give it a few years. The economics of the research alone dictate that a lot of countries will be doing this right now, and doing it very quietly I might add. As soon as the price point is low enough and the logistics in place, drones will take over from humans for all missions that can be defined simply enough for a drone to be able to complete it with minimal remote human interaction.

    Establishing/maintaining air superiority is a prime example as it can be horrendously expensive in terms of equipment and lives lost. Drones working collaboratively with remote humans can designate and prosecute enemy aggressors while leaving the precious supply of human pilots free to pursue missions and targets that need complex on-the-spot human judgement.

    Of COURSE it's being worked on.

    • (Score: 2) by VLM on Monday June 02 2014, @08:50PM

      by VLM (445) Subscriber Badge on Monday June 02 2014, @08:50PM (#50401)

      'free to pursue missions and targets that need complex on-the-spot human judgement."

      Like air superiority in a crowded airspace with rules of engagement that are so complex they make humans heads spin. And so we've gone full circle, back to air superiority is a job best done by humans...

      The problem to solve with air superiority is not how to make things go boom (thats what A2A missile do, or S2A missiles for that matter...) the problem is you've got four aircraft nearby, one is an american medivac chopper full of wounded with battle damage so its IFF is broken so it looks like an enemy although a human pilot would know better, another is an al jazeera news chopper headed right to the front lines like typical journalist idiots, the third chopper is an enemy troop chopper that keeps trying to lure you over a known surface to air emplacement so they can shoot you down opening a hole in defensive coverage so the enemy bombers orbiting at just outside your range can swoop in unopposed once you're shot down or at least otherwise engaged in a pointless fight, and the fourth aircraft is an Air Isreal 747 with a "special" carry on bag that contains IFF gear that makes it look like a bomber on the radar, but it isn't, its just a commercial passenger jet with a suicide traveler. So which of the four do you shoot down? All of them? None of them? Its like an AI Turing test for pilots, every day.

      Its pretty much like claiming land mines will replace the need for infantry in general and special forces in particular. Well, they're useful, sorta, some of the time, but oddly enough every other silver bullet that's ever been invented has turned out to not be a universal silver bullet, so ...

  • (Score: 1) by deimtee on Tuesday June 03 2014, @02:30AM

    by deimtee (3272) on Tuesday June 03 2014, @02:30AM (#50496) Journal

    Depends on how you define an unmanned arial vehicle. Surface to Air missiles have taken down plenty of manned planes.
    If you mean machine-gun equipped drones dog-fighting WW1 style, then yeah it isn't going to happen. Cool as it would be, it just wouldn't be as cost effective or efficient as missiles.

    No problem is insoluble, but at Ksp = 2.943×10−25 Mercury Sulphide comes close.
    • (Score: 2) by tibman on Tuesday June 03 2014, @01:35PM

      by tibman (134) Subscriber Badge on Tuesday June 03 2014, @01:35PM (#50621)

      hah, great point! I am also sure that missiles will continue to remain unmanned.

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