Drones vs. maned A/C in CAS

Sub-scale and Full-Scale Aerial Targets and RPAs - Remotely-Piloted Aircraft
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tincansailor

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Unread post17 Aug 2017, 18:30

There's been some discussion on the board recently about a new American CAS prop A/C, at least for COIN operations. I personally don't think it would be worth it for the USAF to create a whole new manned community for that kind of aircraft. The A-29 Tucano seems to be only for export, so I don't know if the air force is really thinking about using turbo props for our pilots. Seems to me to be a regressive move. Drones seem superior in almost everyway for the job, at least in low intensity conflicts.

I just read this article about Danger Close Drone operations in Syria. Thought it might be interesting to the members to read how far Drones have come in delivering CAS. Enjoy, and looking forward to anyone's thoughts.

http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-raqq ... story.html
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SpudmanWP

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Unread post17 Aug 2017, 19:51

With the advent of weapons like SDB, APKWS, and LZuni, CAS props do not have to get as "Danger Close" as they used to and can safely engage from a few miles away.

With 2 in the cockpit, it is quite possible for the back seat crewman to date direct control over drones in the area to act as the "Danger Close" eyes when things are hidden from his organic sensors.

The USAF does not need to "create a whole new manned community" when they will have a bunch of A-10 pilots that need new jobs within a decade or so.
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arian

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Unread post17 Aug 2017, 23:12

SpudmanWP wrote:With the advent of weapons like SDB, APKWS, and LZuni, CAS props do not have to get as "Danger Close" as they used to and can safely engage from a few miles away.

With 2 in the cockpit, it is quite possible for the back seat crewman to date direct control over drones in the area to act as the "Danger Close" eyes when things are hidden from his organic sensors.

The USAF does not need to "create a whole new manned community" when they will have a bunch of A-10 pilots that need new jobs within a decade or so.


Altitude and range from where you can engage is still an issue. "A few miles way" may still not be good enough given the numbers of modern MANPADs that a modern adversary will have. And they are getting better and with larger engagement envelopes. Weapons like APKWS may not have the range, in most realistic scenarios, to really be used from outside the envelope of MANPADs (of course only their theoretical envelope. The MANPAD operators may be limited too in many ways as to how far they can detect and engage). But in any case, a bit too close for comfort. Same may apply even for Hellfire.

And in any case, modern sensors allow you to operate above the altitude or range of MANPADs. Add in the sensors, weapons, endurance etc., and you may need a pretty large CAS plane these days if you want it to be manned (or with 2 crew members). And one that will be more expensive than a UCAV of comparable performance, and you couldn't get the same endurance out of it anyway.

So yes you can control drones from them, but why bother? Why not cut out the middleman entirely and just go UCAV. The sensors are going to be doing most of the work of finding the enemy, so the pilot's role is more limited these days than A-10's pilot was in the 1980s.

Plus, these days maybe there is better coordination/communication between ground troops and UCAVs than between ground crews and pilots, since the screens and comms for the UCAV are located on a ground station rather than in a small cramped cockpit. More situational awareness.

Anyway, I think this is where it is going to go. CAS, in a real war, is too costly in airframes not too look for an unmanned solution.
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pmi

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Unread post17 Aug 2017, 23:36

SpudmanWP wrote:With the advent of weapons like SDB, APKWS, and LZuni, CAS props do not have to get as "Danger Close" as they used to and can safely engage from a few miles away.


I hope you are using that somewhat tongue in cheek, because that is not at all what Danger Close means. It's a call that means friendly forces are within close proximity to the enemy. The exact distance depends on the weapon system being used with the baseline being a 1 in 1000 chance of the munition incapacitating a friendly.

I'm sure a reasonably recent version of JFIRES can be found online for those interested.
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SpudmanWP

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Unread post18 Aug 2017, 08:03

You are correct that I miss-used "Danger Close", but in a way it's appropriate. Laser accuracy allows for smaller weapons to be used to get the same job done that a 500lb pound bomb or a burst from an Avenger would have historically been used to prosecute.
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wewuzkangz

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Unread post18 Aug 2017, 22:00

tincansailor wrote:There's been some discussion on the board recently about a new American CAS prop A/C, at least for COIN operations. I personally don't think it would be worth it for the USAF to create a whole new manned community for that kind of aircraft. The A-29 Tucano seems to be only for export, so I don't know if the air force is really thinking about using turbo props for our pilots. Seems to me to be a regressive move. Drones seem superior in almost everyway for the job, at least in low intensity conflicts.

I just read this article about Danger Close Drone operations in Syria. Thought it might be interesting to the members to read how far Drones have come in delivering CAS. Enjoy, and looking forward to anyone's thoughts.

http://www.latimes.com/world/la-fg-raqq ... story.html


Drones are great and all. But we should start pushing towards AI computers that are given missions before hand of where to strike in their respective operations of where they will go. The more we move away from communication reliance the better it is.......Hard to hack a computer that emits no signals than one that does emit signals for reliance of where to go.
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tincansailor

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Unread post22 Aug 2017, 18:28

Looks like there may be a pickup in U.S. Drone activity over the Tribal areas of Pakistan. For several reasons it's unlikely we will be using manned aircraft over Pakistan, so that leaves it up to our Drones. Are our Drones significantly more capable then the were few years ago, during our last campaign? I would imagine at least our numbers have grow since then. Like last time intelligence will be the key factor in our success, or failure.

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