back to article US Navy developers test aircraft carrier drone control software

The US Navy has tested a software package that will allow aircraft carriers running it to use its planned drone air-to-air tankers for communications relay and surveillance duties. The MD-5 Unmanned Carrier Aviation Mission Control System (UMCS) was tested under lab conditions using a lorry in place of the drone, according to …

  1. Your alien overlord - fear me

    The Captain better watch his back. Once he's got rid of the need of human pilots, someone higher than him will ask if they really need human sailors.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      I'm old and geeky enough to remember a star trek episode where the enterprise is the test bed for a new computer, named M5 (odd to call it after a motorway, but still...), that took over James T's role. It didn't end well if I recall correctly.

  2. Alister Silver badge
    Coat

    The MD-5 Unmanned Carrier Aviation Mission Control System (UMCS) was tested under lab conditions using a lorry in place of the drone

    Hmm, that must have been interesting, a flying lorry, whatever next!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      flying lorries have amazon logos on them, surely?

    2. Stoneshop Silver badge
      Boffin

      Was it a Testbedford?

      They also found that lorries don't so much fly as plummet.

      1. Chemical Bob

        Re: plummet

        sort of like this:

        https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lf3mgmEdfwg

  3. John Robson Silver badge

    Really??

    "The drone is specifically being developed to be resistant to hackers, according to the USN"

    As opposed to every other computer system in the world where resistance to hacking is optional?

    (I discount IoT devices for good reasons)

    1. a_yank_lurker Silver badge

      Re: Really??

      They may be hacker proof but are they jarhead proof?

      1. hammarbtyp Silver badge
        Joke

        Re: Really??

        To be truly hacker proof, they will have to upgrade to the SHA-2 Done

      2. Joe User
        Trollface

        Re: Really??

        They may be hacker proof but are they jarhead proof?

        That feature is available on the U.S. Marines' version.

      3. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Really??

        They may be hacker proof but are they jarhead proof?

        Ah no, for that they will need the Pro version..

    2. Chris Hance

      Re: Really??

      It was a transcription error. The drone is resistant to Hackers, the movie. It spends its idle time posting to Twitter and reddit with derogatory comments about the film.

    3. Francis Boyle Silver badge

      Re: Really??

      Unfortunately, I suspect that it's an entirely reasonable comment given that currently most software development (not just the IOT stuff) appears to be based on the "put it out there and if someone pokes a hole we can always release a patch, maybe" principle.

  4. Marketing Hack Silver badge
    Devil

    "The drone is specifically being developed to be resistant to hackers"

    Oddly enough, I happened to have come across 10,000 gallons of aviation fuel, which I can sell for a very reasonable price!

  5. Tikimon Silver badge
    Joke

    So nice to caption the photo!

    That was a right generous thing to caption that photo, "A US Navy F/A-18 Hornet taking off from an aircraft carrier". Seeing as you British folks may have forgotten what an airplane taking off from a carrier looks like. Also that it's a US plane and not a secret British prototype. Might have confused people, yanno.

    "OMG why does that runway end over the water, isn't that dangerous? That poor pilot barely off the ground, he must have crashed! And why can't I find video of it on Youtube?"

    [with all my sympathy for your naval aviation woes. Our turn will come when we have to rely on those F-35 horrors]

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge
      Thumb Up

      Re: So nice to caption the photo!

      Apparently a sense of humour by-pass is now available on the NHS, hence the downvotes.

    2. phuzz Silver badge

      Re: So nice to caption the photo!

      What black magic is this that allows an aircraft to take off from a carrier, without a ski jump at the end?

      We are quite familiar with runways that end at the sea however. Do yours have public roads going across them as well?

  6. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    "the MQ-25 will now mainly be used for topping up the tanks of manned aircraft"

    Until the top brass realized that would (slowly) start to make "Naval Aviators" as a breed extinct.

    But note it's easy to upgrade because it's a got a framework already on board.

    Is it my imagination or is this thing quietly acquiring capabilities faster than the F35?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: "the MQ-25 will now mainly be used for topping up the tanks of manned aircraft"

      Until the top brass realized that would (slowly) start to make "Naval Aviators" as a breed extinct.

      Not in the view of top brass. Navy, Air Force (and others) are all the same. The top brass are former top guns, and they believe the idea that (a) there is a special class of human who are the only ones that can become a top gun, and (b) a top gun will outfly any computer. This means that their entire world view is based on self validation - that's common for many people. As a result the top brass aren't working to replace fighter pilots, because they earnestly believe those people are the ubermenschen who defend our "freedoms".

      To a large extent, (a) is correct purely due to the skills, coordination and reactions required, but of course (b) is totally wrong.

  7. Andy Miller

    Would I be right in thinking that this is a cats and traps only design? So not something us Brits can buy for our catlass Queen Lizzies? Who exactly thought a catless carrier was a good idea?

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Who exactly thought a catless carrier was a good idea?

      The civil service. They'd read that Larry was on duty at no.10, and assumed that was all the cats that were needed.

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    New Patent innovation buzzword: "Drone"

    The US Navy has tested a software package that will allow aircraft carriers running it to use its planned drone air-to-air tankers for communications relay and surveillance duties.

    In software terms UMCS is not a big leap: USN developers plugged existing mission management, planning and sensor control software into the US Navy's Common Control System framework, tailoring each element as required to talk to the "drone" systems being used.

    I would agree it isn't a big leap, the idea of using aircraft as communications relays etc. was part of a US Navy combat communications systems specification that crossed my desk back in the mid 1980's.

    So it would appear that the big 'feature' is "use of a drone" as a communications relay, hence why I suspect we will see many new and 'innovative' patents where the only new and 'innovative' feature is "use in a drone".

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