back to article USAF seeks control of aerial kill-bots

Everyone knows about the current rise of the aerial killer robot. These machines are now in operation across the US military, and have already reaped a deadly harvest in Southwest Asia. But the big deathbot battle isn't, in fact, in Iraq of Afghanistan; it's between the various branches of the US armed services, regarding who …

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Anonymous Coward

Not just choppers

It is not just helicopters the RAF wanted to get their hands on. When they wanted the money to get the then new fangled Tornado, they convinced the MOD they could provide air cover to the RN anywhere in the world. Unfortunately their plan involved digging up the whole of Australia and moving it 700 miles east! Still it worked and the old Ark Royal and Eagle were decommissioned along with their air wings.... And still at it today!

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Anonymous Coward

Common Sense vs political thinking

The Air Force should be turned back over to the army. After all the army has the most troops on the ground at any one time. Their Air support should be ran by them, thus stopping all miss- understood communications between the two branches.

AAF of old won wwII The new U.S.A.F is a politacal machine.

The Navy on the other hand needs it's own Air Force because of the nature of it's operations, not condusive to American land based air support.

All this brought to you by

A/1c RHS

Former Air force a/c mech

1955-64

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Hmmm...

Bring back the Harrier that's what I say! Couple of servo's, some sticky back plastic and the remote control off your kids r/c car... we'd have the best aerial kill-bots of them all!!

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hmm..

I wonder which the US Army would prefer - flyboys or soldierboys?

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Anonymous Coward

Other viewpoint

I'll take the other view. The Navy has always been a maritime force that resisted the adoption of air power even during WW II. The carrier forces were still considered to be a novelty even while dealing the Japanese severe blows in several campaigns. It was always the battleship that would win the war. During Korea, the Navy insisted that they could shell North Korea into submission and only used their air wing because the Air Force was using theirs to great success.

During Viet Nam, the Navy finally "wised up", but were only peers with the Air Force.

Today, the Navy reluctantly uses their "air power" to attack land forces. For the most part, they view their air wings as interdiction forces and to attack enemy carrier groups, which seems contradictory. Look at where they Navy is investing its R&D. Not into carriers, they now seem settled for the next 50 to 60 years. Instead they're going after destroyers and cruisers.

Sadly, the USAF has decided to go with the one platform fits all missions approach. The F-35 won't work as a low CAP/ground support/missile suppression/anti-tank aircraft. The F-16 does low CAP. I don't know that we have a ground support. The Weasel did missile suppression and we don't have a single effective aircraft for that role. The A-10 is the premier tank killer and the J-35 is hopelessly outclassed in that field. The F-15 is an excellent high CAP/air superiority fighter and I can only hope that the same will be said for the F-22.

Capt USAF(ret) and former EWO

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All this wrangling is pointless

Historically, what happens is that the "old boys" decide how to divide the pie during (relatively) peaceful times. Then the balloon goes up, the old boys are demonstrated to be useless relics, and the young bloods change things to an approach that works. Whichever side makes the change faster and more effectively wins the war.

So, I say, give the USAF control of all the 3500ft+ aircraft they like. The Army will be using low-altitude drones in ground-support roles anyhow, and the Air Force will be crying about how many aircraft they've lost to enemy ground-to-air missiles, instead of actually providing effective support.

In Nam, it was the Navy who provided *effective* bombing of the North, and it was the Army who provided *effective* aerial troop support. All the Air Force ever did was drive the bus between Saigon and The World.

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Anonymous Coward

USAF going the way of Calvary?

Time to retire the USAF, much as the horse Calvary was. Otherwise, when we get into a shooting match with a real adversary like China in 20 years time, they’ll eat us for lunch if for no other reason than throwing a lot of cheap drones at manned fighters, even if those drones are less capable, will win. It’s a classic war of attrition.

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Targeting with a cellphone

Oh, great idea, that.

Anything that can be hacked, will be hacked. Our government (USA) can't keep track of its own emails, and now they want to expand their expertise into remote-controlled war weapons? This isn't even something as regulated as the plutonium and nuke parts being tossed around on the black market, thanks to our Pakistani friends. What are they using ... Windows 6.0? Symbian? iPhones?!

Thanks very much. I'll sleep much better now.

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RAF /USAF obselesence

Both airforces actually do very little that isn't already done by their naval and army counterparts. They have been struggling for survival for some time. There is no skill there that isn't replicated in the other two forces so if they're really interested in saving the taxpayer cash they'd opt to join the greens or the senior service...

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give up the air force?

Speaking as a current member of USAF and as an Aircraft Maintainer here. While I dislike flight crew and their ilk, that's mainly for personal reasons. However, to say that the USAF is a worthless and useless service is just asinine. The Navy and the Army does not do what we do, nor could it without a large overhaul.

We're more then just glorified taxis. We're responsible for a VERY large precentage of the destruction of enemy forces. This is due to bombing and strategic strikes with fighters and close air support. When the marines hit Falujah, they damn sure didn't call for Navy. They called for the AC-130 gunships from Air Force Spec Ops Command.

The Air Force is far from worthless and useless. Simply because we're smart enough to avoid having to go into close combat where we lose four or five thousand of our troops doesn't mean we're useless. It just means we utilize a different set of capabilities to solve our problems then just sending wave after wave of bodies at it till it gets solved.

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Time to break up the RAF

I wouldn't say that the RAF should be disbanded, but its responsibilities should be scaled back to a few, well defined, roles.

Control over most of the rotary wing aircraft should be handed over to the Army, especially over their transport shortage.

The RN should be allowed to operate heavier, fixed wing, aircraft. But this should be balanced on expected deployments. If we're expecting to fight more wars away from RAF bases then the RN should have larger air groups capable of striking enemy targets and providing air support.

And forget STOVL for the carriers - we need real (CATOBAR) carriers! (Fortunately the new Queen Elizabeth class carriers have a long enough flight deck. Aan angled landing strip and catapults can be installed afterwards if needed. There's a little forward planning on the part of the Navy there)

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"They called for the AC-130 gunships from Air Force Spec Ops Command."

How many of those are still in commission, Scottie? Five? Six?

I have had some very good friends in the USAF. None of them were doing anything they couldn't have done in the Army, the Navy, or the Marines, however. The age of the strategic bomber has been over since Gary Powers proved that you can't fly high enough to avoid missiles without a ship at least as fast as those missiles - and the Blackbird makes a lousy weapons platform.

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The A-10 is ANOTHER story...

about how the Air Force neglected a fantastic, effective platform in preference for one that was sexier and faster...

The A-10 Thunderbolt is (as mentioned above) the premier tank killer - but it is slow, old, and basically incapable of air to air combat. It's primary weapon is a depleted uranium gatling gun that shreds armoured vehicles to pieces in a single pass - and is terrifying to the enemy. After Gulf War I, the Air Force decided that it wasn't sexy or fast enough for it's fighter jocks to fly, and decided that F-16s could use air to ground missles instead...so all the A-10s got slated for mothballs in the Arizona desert...

Funnily enough, when GW2 occured, the Air Force had to dust them all off and send them back to the desert, as it was quickly proven that F-16s fly too damned fast and high to be effective tank killers in close air support roles...

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Stealth

@Morely Dotes: So, what about the F-117A or the B-2 stealth platforms? Admittedly, neither is designed for any kind of air-air combat, but both are relatively tough to hit, by virtue of their low visibility, and have proven effective at slipping in and the enemy's first indication they got there is the target going "boom". It's only a matter of time before someone defeats that protection level, but even so, it does represent a significant advantage for the mean time, and who's to say that it can't be built on?

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Tom
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Israel has it right.

They only have ONE branch of armed forces. None of this Army/Navy/AirForce stuff.

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Anonymous Coward

Repeating history

During WW2, the Army was the lead US service in the European theater of operations and the Navy and Marine Corps led in the Pacific. Both did well in their tasks because they were designed for the peculiarities of the operation area. The lesson is that IT TAKES ALL OF THEM TO DO THE JOB. Anytime a service member says their service can do the entire job, they are pounding sand and blowing smoke.

In 1947 the USAF was split from the Army and became the USAF. At that time there was an agreement that the Army would have small liaison type aircraft weighing no more than 12,000 pounds and the USAF would do everything else, including close air support for the Army. I think this was called the Key West Agreement. But the USAF gave only lip service to the close combat air support needed by the Army forces, preferring the more glamorous aircraft. (Note the major similarity to what is said in the article about the RAF). But the Army needs the close air support mission performed and the decision to employ the air support and the form it is to take must be by the ground commander because of the response times needed to save soldiers lives. Despite the clearly extreme valor and high performance levels of the USAF forward air controllers and the combat flyers, the USAF upper echelons did not want to use "their" assets to support "someone else's" war. This led to the Army becoming extremely devious to "acquire" close air support capabilities that they could control. The result was, over the howling objections of the USAF brass, the Army's armed and transport helicopters and even a few surreptitiously armed fixed wing aircraft. And these assets were used widely as I saw in Vietnam.

We have a new situation with unconventional enemies and the needs of the services have changed. As the Constitution says "provide for the common defense" there is a need to provide armed capability to defend against both conventional and unconventional enemies. The tasks that must be done need support from ALL the services. Some of this is happening now and the interservice coordination and cooperation now being seen in Iraq and Afghanistan is astounding to us old timers. The people FIGHTING the war do not have a problem working together. The brass MANAGING the war have yet to noticeably shed their old service loyalties in favor of a first loyalty to the (United States of America) (United Kingdom) (strike inapplicable entity). In most instances politicians and political appointees, regardless of their country of allegiance, are incompetent to make the necessary decisions to provide the most "bang for the buck".

So I would say to the Royal Army, resist, resist, resist. Spend the time and brain power to overcome any RAF plan to take over close air support - by their very nature, an air force responsible for both strategic and tactical missions will tend to favor their strategic and more costly missions at the expense of supporting the ground pounders. This is not a criticism because a ground force commander or sea force commander will in most cases be reluctant to provide support to another service. It is human nature. But both ground, sea, and air forces have missions that must be performed and those missions must be performed with the least expenditure of lives; the way to accomplish that is to coordinate and cooperate. The paychecks all come from the same place. I could also write about the gross misuse of the reserve and national guard but that is a subject for a different rant.

Major, US Army, retired

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Silver badge

"Simply because we're smart enough to avoid having to go into close combat"

There's nothing smart about the USAF, it is a tool and has a job to do, just like any other part of the armed forces. The point of the article is that the job could be given to another corps, and the tool transferred to another competence.

Personally, as a civilian, I find remarks like that a bit offensive. The Army is not stupid because it "throws bodies at the problem until it is solved". The Army needs men because airplanes do not conquer countries, just likes ships cannot control a government. It is the men that do that.

Given that fact, the Army is indeed the most important force of all, and Air Force, Navy and Marines should realize that their sole reason for existence is to ensure that the Army gets where it needs to go without suffering casualties along the way.

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Anonymous Coward

Title

MoD

Ministry of Death

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What IF?

So the US military can see the potential for these things, but what if the terror squad perfects these fly bots ?

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Human Nature

Most people miss the point entirely, human nature dictates that we each protect that which we see witihin our own sphere of influence and go after the things which will benefit our cause the most.

Genereally speaking cooperation between two groups can only be acheived and maintained by a higher authority, in this case the government.

The problem we have is that the higher authority must be flexible enough to make quick decisions in time of war but far sighted enough to maintain the armed forces in a state which is suitable to the kind of unconventional warfare we are seeing in both Iraq and Afghanistan.

Long story short, stop bickering over which force is the best and start battering our governments to manage the forces better and supply them with what they need to get the job done.

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Anonymous Coward

Forget the AIr Force, hire teens

Ender's Game, anyone?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: USAF going the way of Calvary?

wow! that was a long sentence!

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Anonymous Coward

Retro!

The front cover of the Sky Warrior brochure looks like the front to an Amstrad CPC 464 game cassette inlay.

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Anonymous Coward

Title

Gentlemen, you missed it, if the Army is throwing men at something to overcome it and it seems a wast then don't blame the Army, blame your politicians (i.e Bush's Democracy in iraq.

As for the Air Force I never meant to give the impression that it is useless, I merely meant it would be better operated with Army command, and I do not mean disrespect to AF Generals, they are some of the finest. I just believe the mission between the Army and Air Force are so similar that they need the same governmental command.

A/ic RHS

PS all branch's give their best and ones blood is no more precious than the others, just ask the families that have lost their love ones, whether it be Army, Air Force, Marines, or Navy. Hats of to each and every one

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