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"The fighter jet era has passed"

Discussion in 'AviatorChat.com' started by spicedriver, Mar 6, 2020.

  1. tritone

    tritone F1 Rookie
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    Is there any room for a scenario whereby a whole squadron of "Hannibals" sits in their simulators xxxx miles away, with 360º screens, and maintains that undescribable "fighter pilot" instinct, winning the engagement without risking more than the hardware?
    AI/autonomous still needs communication, so if AI has it, why not the sim?
     
  2. tazandjan

    tazandjan Three Time F1 World Champ
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    Lots of tech issues to overcome before fully autonomous fighters occur. Really high bandpass comm available around the globe must also stand up to a space war taking out satellites and very high energy jamming and EMP and HPM attacks. Put all your eggs in that basket and someone could potentially put you completely out of business.
     
  3. spicedriver

    spicedriver Formula 3

    Feb 1, 2011
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    I believe what the Air Force is looking at now is to have a traditional manned fighter, accompanied by a number of semi-autonomous drones. These drones would have pre-programmed subroutines for things like defense, attack, reconn, etc. And would be under the command of the pilot.
     
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  4. Hannibal308

    Hannibal308 F1 Rookie
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    Without looking through my posts here from a few years ago, I have definitely said exactly that on more than a few occasions and even lectured on it in the UK. I spent quite a large part of my last few flying years working on and playing cheerleader for Auto-GCAS...the automated ground collision avoidance system as we began to get it into the F-16 fleet. That was a tough sell. The vast majority of fighter pilots had a real qualms about the jet taking over at low level. Having personally tried unsuccessfully to run an F-16 into the ground intentionally, and as an experienced, if not the most experienced, mishap investigation consultant, I became the roadshow for getting buy-in from the Viper drivers for first Predictive-GCAS then Auto-GCAS. Most buy-in came from hours at the bar fielding questions from my bros. When they realize you’re not just some reflector head engineer and you’re presenting a solution that would have saved literally dozens of needless losses of our own to spatial disorientation/LSA at night or in IMC, they begin to get it. It also helps when I present what the system is actually doing. When you tell a pilot that the aircraft system is constantly calculating a recovery with a 100 foot ground clearance plane using the maximum performance available for the aircraft at any given position, they begin to understand that if the system takes over, they were very likely going to die had it not been there to do so.

    Segway to my epiphany with respect to AI and RPAs (Drones). Right after I got out of Med School I went to fly the F-16 after a long-ish break from flying. As part of my qualification training as a flight lead, I and a half dozen or so of my squadron bros were sent from Korea to Phoenix where some of our most advanced Air to Air simulators resided. We spent hours upon hours practicing 4-ship air to air tactics in these sims, often against a dozen adversaries or more. After a few days of practicing and debriefing it dawned on me how game changing it would be if all of the information presented in our debrief was available real time as an engagement was unfolding. At the time, the F-16 was no joke. It was a well-honed killing machine. But...I still had to use my eyes to find targets outside my HUD FOV, I still had to slew my radar right where it was needed, I still had to keep visual with all my bros in my flight who were busy doing the same stuff. It was complicated, saturating, and exhausting. Fun too, sure. Still, there was so much more we could have done with data links, my Block of F-16s didn’t have it yet, a helmet mounted cueing system, which I went on to test, but wasn’t available yet, moving maps that showed every identified player in the engagement, and cameras that could see farther than me as well as see through the floor of my cockpit, and synthetic vision software that could generate green or blue outlines around your mates, red outlines around bad guys, etc. Then I thought why TF do I even need to be there? Sit me on a bar stool in the center of a synthetic vision sphere, a throttle and a stick, and put my bro’s in the same, give us access to the same synthesized big picture we would see in our debriefs and watch us beat the hoards like a rented mule.

    Fast forward 15 years. F-35 has just about all of that and more. The dudes are still in the cockpit, that’s great for fighter pilots. But I contend, with 100% certainty, that given some not insignificant, yet not man on the moon type of advancements in comms, AI, and some other technical barriers, the unmanned (not necessarily autonomous) fighter is coming.
     
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  5. tazandjan

    tazandjan Three Time F1 World Champ
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    They already have them in the QF-16s with an admittedly very limited role.
     

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