F-35 and X-47B

The F-35 compared with other modern jets.
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pmi

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Unread post29 Sep 2020, 13:07

element1loop wrote:The buckets of money being heaved at the Ai initiative garbage reminds me of the expensive needless desire to provide astronauts with a zero-G ink pen, when a graphite pencil would get the job done, for 5 cents inside of 10 seconds.


It reminds you of an urban myth?

NASA bought Fisher pens at wholesale prices ($2-3 each), a couple of years later the Soviets did the same.

Both programs moved away from pencils because of the dangers of contamination from graphite dust.
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Unread post29 Sep 2020, 15:31

marauder2048 wrote:
ricnunes wrote:In order for a UAV/UCAV to have any chance against the most advanced manned fighter aircraft they would need to be very complex and have some very advanced capabilities such as sensors and weaponry something which would make them just as expensive as their manned counterparts. On top of this, UAVs/UCAVs can be jammed or more precisely the link between them and the controllers can be jammed something which won't happen with manned fighter aircraft.

So and IMO, UAVs/UCAVs will indeed be very important in future warfare just like guided missiles/munitions are but IMO they will be just that: a complement to manned aircraft and not a replacement for them (like Musk said).


A loyal wingman at the end of an LPI/LPD/LPE/AJ datalink seems like the sweet spot.

That wingman is quite willing to take a missile for you and won't hog your kills or undermine
your position in the squadron.



Yes, I do agree with that.

Resuming, UAVs/UCAVs being used as an advanced weapon system for the manned aircraft - the so called 'loyal wingman' - seems a quite good possibility indeed or as you say a 'sweet spot' but certainly not as a replacement for the manned aircraft itself.
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Unread post30 Sep 2020, 07:41

pmi wrote:
element1loop wrote:The buckets of money being heaved at the Ai initiative garbage reminds me of the expensive needless desire to provide astronauts with a zero-G ink pen, when a graphite pencil would get the job done, for 5 cents inside of 10 seconds.


It reminds you of an urban myth? NASA bought Fisher pens at wholesale prices ($2-3 each), a couple of years later the Soviets did the same. Both programs moved away from pencils because of the dangers of contamination from graphite dust.


Sorry, how's it a myth when you're admitting that Fisher Zero-G 'space pens' were used as were graphite pencils?
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Unread post30 Sep 2020, 08:34

I agree on your take on the "AI" thing. but you got the "space pen" wrong. First the mechanical pencils, then the Fisher ballpoint pens, both are off-the-shelf products. NASA spent zero on developing either. The mechanical pencils used in the Gemini program were procured at a much higher price, about 130 USD a piece. But using pencils in zero-G had problems. You don't want flammable debris floating around in the capsule. Esp. after the Apollo 1 fire, NASA got rid of those pencils.

Hope I cleared the issue. More fitting example, I think, is spending huge amount of money on solar cells and wind turbines in order to retire those evil coal, gas, nuclear power plants, but the actual result is undermining the energy security. Or needless, expensive, and painful treatments based on dubious biomedical researches.
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Unread post30 Sep 2020, 13:39

ricnunes wrote:
mixelflick wrote:I suspect it won't be long before the X-47 leads to bigger and better things in the air to air arena. Once they get the AI in place it's going to be doing a lot more than refueling/acting as just another airborne sensor.

Musk was right: It's the way forward, and manned aircraft in most cases won't be able to compete. I don't like it, I'm sure pilots don't like it either. But that's where things are going, and the sooner probably the better. China has a very robust drone program, and it's only going to accelerate from here.


I'm still (very) skeptical about that!
In order for a UAV/UCAV to have any chance against the most advanced manned fighter aircraft they would need to be very complex and have some very advanced capabilities such as sensors and weaponry something which would make them just as expensive as their manned counterparts. On top of this, UAVs/UCAVs can be jammed or more precisely the link between them and the controllers can be jammed something which won't happen with manned fighter aircraft.

So and IMO, UAVs/UCAVs will indeed be very important in future warfare just like guided missiles/munitions are but IMO they will be just that: a complement to manned aircraft and not a replacement for them (like Musk said). BTW, note that this isn't the first time that someone says that manned combat/fighter aircraft will cease to exist - in the 1970's there were some who said that manned combat/fighter aircraft would be fully replaced by missiles and "fast forwarding" to today, guess that those people failed their predictions completely and IMO the same will happen with these UAV/UCAV 'predictions' of today.

By the way, didn't the US Navy cancelled the X-47?


AI is clearly not here yet, but just as clearly things seem to be headed in that direction. It's just the nature of technology... look at the F-35. Instead of VID'ing bogeys like in prior wars, its doing so at great range with a multitude of sensors - then dispatching them with AMRAAM's (and later, more advanced missiles from an even greater range).

They are a complement to manned aircraft yes (for now). And I agree the manned aircraft won't disappear completely. But the number of unmanned vs. manned aircraft is only going to grow IMO. Witness the requirements for the NGAD and B-21... If I'm not mistaken, there's a requirement for both to be optionally manned. Perhaps that's where things will stay - for awhile.

Today? It's still a ways off. But that could change, especially if and when the first drone shoots down a manned aircraft. Or takes out a nuclear plant. Or shoots down a cruise missile headed toward a CVN. They (the drones) will continue to get smaller, more capable and produced in greater numbers. Will they cost more to have all this capability? Sure. But they will never cost more than a human life, especially when you factor in the training/$ we put into our servicemen.

I hope manned aircraft don't continue to disappear, I really don't. But the whole scenario reminds me of someone who once scoffed at the idea every home in the US would one day, have a PC. I bet they never imagined people would be abandoning their land lines either, for a smart phone... or that said smart phone would be capable of doing the same things a PC does!
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Unread post30 Sep 2020, 23:08

mixelflick wrote:AI is clearly not here yet, but just as clearly things seem to be headed in that direction. It's just the nature of technology... look at the F-35. Instead of VID'ing bogeys like in prior wars, its doing so at great range with a multitude of sensors - then dispatching them with AMRAAM's (and later, more advanced missiles from an even greater range).


That basically 'proves' my point:
- AI is and will be here to augment the human assets (such as combat aircraft) and not to replace them.


mixelflick wrote:They are a complement to manned aircraft yes (for now). And I agree the manned aircraft won't disappear completely. But the number of unmanned vs. manned aircraft is only going to grow IMO. Witness the requirements for the NGAD and B-21... If I'm not mistaken, there's a requirement for both to be optionally manned. Perhaps that's where things will stay - for awhile.


And IMO, it's not the number of "number of unmanned vs. manned aircraft is only going to grow". Instead it's the number of manned aircraft that is decreasing and have been decreasing well before all this discussion behind "AIs and drones" first happened. Advanced and guided weapons are likely one of the biggest reasons behind this since they make combat aircraft far more effective which means that less are needed to do more. Drones/UAVs/UCAVs/Whatever... will probably make manned combat aircraft even more effective which means that less [manned combat aircraft] will be needed but like the already existing advanced weapon systems they won't replace manned combat aircraft. Resuming Drones/UAVs/UCAVs/Whatever... will be a manned combat aircraft weapon system and not a replacement (IMO, that is).


mixelflick wrote:Today? It's still a ways off. But that could change, especially if and when the first drone shoots down a manned aircraft.
Or takes out a nuclear plant. Or shoots down a cruise missile headed toward a CVN.


When/if this happens, how many more drone's would be shot down by manned combat aircraft (and even other air defense systems)? And after this, how many drones will continue to be shot down per each manned combat aircraft in return? I would say that the 'kill count' will continue to be overwhelmingly in favor of the manned combat aircraft.

mixelflick wrote:They (the drones) will continue to get smaller, more capable and produced in greater numbers.


In order for that, specially in order to be produced in greater numbers they need to be simpler in order to be much less expensive to build and maintain. This means being quite or even much less stealthier, less weaponry, carry much smaller and somehow more limited sensors and being subsonic only (or with very limited supersonic capabilities) compared to manned combat aircraft hence why I believe that the edge will continue to be in favor of manned combat aircraft even in the future.


mixelflick wrote:Will they cost more to have all this capability? Sure. But they will never cost more than a human life, especially when you factor in the training/$ we put into our servicemen.


And how about the capability of jamming the link between drones and the controller or even the drone's sensors? This means that technically it could be possible to stop a drone attack without shooting a single missile/bullet/energy beam at the incoming drone or drones. This sure would be a very cheap way for an enemy to counter drones.

And I also strongly believe that direct energy weapons will have a 'lot to say' when used against much smaller (and thus, more vulnerable) drones specially when compared to being used against larger (and thus more resistant) manned combat aircraft.


mixelflick wrote:I hope manned aircraft don't continue to disappear, I really don't. But the whole scenario reminds me of someone who once scoffed at the idea every home in the US would one day, have a PC. I bet they never imagined people would be abandoning their land lines either, for a smart phone... or that said smart phone would be capable of doing the same things a PC does!


Well, I also mentioned that in the 1970's there was this theory where in the near future (back then) a 'panoply of missile' ranging from SAMs to cruise and ballistic missiles would totally and completely replace manned combat aircraft. Fast forwarding to today, guess what happened to that theory? :wink:
“Active stealth” is what the ignorant nay sayers call ECM and pretend like it’s new.
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Unread post02 Oct 2020, 21:42

ALSO: https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/3 ... ker-drones FOR graphic: https://www.thedrive.com/content-b/mess ... -52353.jpg
Navy to Establish First MQ-25 Stingray UAV Squadron in 2021
02 Oct 2020 Richard R. Burgess

"...[CNO] directed the establishment of Unmanned Carrier-Launched Multi-Role Squadron 10 (VUQ-10) on Oct. 1, 2021. The squadron, to be based at Naval Air Station Point Mugu, part of Naval Base Ventura, California, will assign detachments to carrier air wings to provide aerial refueling services to the wing’s first aircraft.

VUQ-10 will operate under the administrative control of commander, Airborne Command & Control Logistics Wing, also based at Point Mugu. The Navy plans to procure 72 Stingrays...

...The MQ-25A is scheduled to achieve Initial Operational Capability in 2024. The Navy also has said it plans to use the Stingray in the surveillance role, hence the multi-role term in the squadron’s designation."

Source: https://seapowermagazine.org/navy-to-es ... n-in-2021/
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MQ-25stingRayBOING!.gif
A4G Skyhawk: www.faaaa.asn.au/spazsinbad-a4g/ & www.youtube.com/channel/UCwqC_s6gcCVvG7NOge3qfAQ/videos?view_as=subscriber
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Unread post03 Oct 2020, 01:18

zhangmdev wrote:Hope I cleared the issue. More fitting example, I think, is spending huge amount of money on solar cells and wind turbines in order to retire those evil coal, gas, nuclear power plants, but the actual result is undermining the energy security.


You win.
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Unread post03 Oct 2020, 01:46

ricnunes wrote:And how about the capability of jamming the link between drones and the controller or even the drone's sensors? This means that technically it could be possible to stop a drone attack without shooting a single missile/bullet/energy beam at the incoming drone or drones. This sure would be a very cheap way for an enemy to counter drones.


Agree with most of your points, but this is not one.

If you look at the following article (written since this Ai critique discussion began here) the AF Brass are pushing the Ai stuff into the background, for the Loyal-Wingman drone concepts. The text says explicitly, in several places, that the drones will be autonomous, and their behaviors “defined”. Note, that autonomy is not dependent on datalink connectivity, they continue to operate in tactically degraded comms. Once comms returns the spice will flow.

The Ai aspect is described as “evolutionary”, and as a future “hope”, but that Ai is not considered necessary to enable highly effective Loyal-Wingman systems right now. So it seems the discussion has been had already and Ai is not a deciding factor, or primary capability to pursue. It's time to focus on CONOPS and delivering autonomous capabilities that pilots can actually leverage, to get non-kinetic results (due to tiny payloads), with fewer manned aircraft being involved.

Lockheed Martin Joins The Skyborg Fray With Phase 2 Award

By THERESA HITCHENS on September 30, 2020 at 5:24 PM

https://breakingdefense.com/2020/09/loc ... e-2-award/


And yesterday there was a much more practical CONOPS oriented release from the Mitchell Institute, which largely ignores Ai altogether.

Understanding the Promise of Skyborg and Low-Cost Attritable Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
https://a2dd917a-65ab-41f1-ab11-5f1897e ... 50a0a3.pdf

Related Mitchell Institute video discussion:

Understanding the Promise of Skyborg and Low-Cost Attritable Unmanned Aerial Vehicles - Oct 1, 2020
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CaR6c5U ... e=youtu.be

--

X-47B achieved all via algorithm and that remains the intent for all currently planned autonomous air power drones. MQ-25A is however perhaps at the transition payload where a kinetic-kill for self-defense and survival becomes a possibility.

... Look Mum! ... No Ai! ...
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Unread post03 Oct 2020, 16:09

element1loop wrote:
ricnunes wrote:And how about the capability of jamming the link between drones and the controller or even the drone's sensors? This means that technically it could be possible to stop a drone attack without shooting a single missile/bullet/energy beam at the incoming drone or drones. This sure would be a very cheap way for an enemy to counter drones.


Agree with most of your points, but this is not one.

If you look at the following article (written since this Ai critique discussion began here) the AF Brass are pushing the Ai stuff into the background, for the Loyal-Wingman drone concepts. The text says explicitly, in several places, that the drones will be autonomous, and their behaviors “defined”. Note, that autonomy is not dependent on datalink connectivity, they continue to operate in tactically degraded comms. Once comms returns the spice will flow.

The Ai aspect is described as “evolutionary”, and as a future “hope”, but that Ai is not considered necessary to enable highly effective Loyal-Wingman systems right now. So it seems the discussion has been had already and Ai is not a deciding factor, or primary capability to pursue. It's time to focus on CONOPS and delivering autonomous capabilities that pilots can actually leverage, to get non-kinetic results (due to tiny payloads), with fewer manned aircraft being involved.


I understand what you're saying but if you or someone else believes that drones with 'AI' will fully attack targets at will without any order from human beings then I have a bridge to sell :wink:

What I'm trying to say here is that while the AI may in the future conduct fully autonomous target engagements, someone (a human being) must give the order to the drone to 'attack target X' which afterwards and using 'AI' it is hoped that this will be accomplished 'autonomously' and then afterwards an 'attack target Y' order (and so on...) or a 'return to base' order can be issued to the drone's AI. However in order to issue such orders a datalink is needed and this can still be jammed which means that there's a chance that the order wouldn't get (or timely get) to the drone.

What's interesting with the 'Loyal-Wingman' concept is that a manned aircraft and thus the human being that gives orders to the drone are much closer to each other compared to a ground based station or even an air based station (such as an AEW&C aircraft) located afar which means that the data-link between the ordering human and the drone in the case of the 'Loyal-Wingman' concept should be much, much harder to be jammed.
This BTW, is another reason why I don't think that manned combat aircraft will be fully replaced by drones even in the future.
“Active stealth” is what the ignorant nay sayers call ECM and pretend like it’s new.
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Unread post04 Oct 2020, 08:51

ricnunes wrote:
element1loop wrote:
ricnunes wrote:And how about the capability of jamming the link between drones and the controller or even the drone's sensors? This means that technically it could be possible to stop a drone attack without shooting a single missile/bullet/energy beam at the incoming drone or drones. This sure would be a very cheap way for an enemy to counter drones.


Agree with most of your points, but this is not one.

If you look at the following article (written since this Ai critique discussion began here) the AF Brass are pushing the Ai stuff into the background, for the Loyal-Wingman drone concepts. The text says explicitly, in several places, that the drones will be autonomous, and their behaviors “defined”. Note, that autonomy is not dependent on datalink connectivity, they continue to operate in tactically degraded comms. Once comms returns the spice will flow.

The Ai aspect is described as “evolutionary”, and as a future “hope”, but that Ai is not considered necessary to enable highly effective Loyal-Wingman systems right now. So it seems the discussion has been had already and Ai is not a deciding factor, or primary capability to pursue. It's time to focus on CONOPS and delivering autonomous capabilities that pilots can actually leverage, to get non-kinetic results (due to tiny payloads), with fewer manned aircraft being involved.


I understand what you're saying but if you or someone else believes that drones with 'AI' will fully attack targets at will without any order from human beings then I have a bridge to sell :wink:


I sure don't think there's any such thing as 'Ai', total media and industry myth, just learning machines I learned about in CP101. Not sure why you think that's my position when I argued about the ineffectualness of 'Ai' learning systems at length in a 'self determined' airpower role.

But I likewise hope you don't think autonomy amounts to 'Ai' (Sorry ric, I ABSOLUTELY ----ING HATE THIS TERM! ... had to share) in the form of a learning-machine. Autonomy learns nothing, it's just a bunch of software rules, defined by an air force, that follows algorithmic routines, i.e. what a TLAM did 40 years ago. That's autonomy, and that's what a Loyal Wingman will do, with cherries on top.

ricnunes wrote:What I'm trying to say here is that while the AI may in the future conduct fully autonomous target engagements, someone (a human being) must give the order to the drone to 'attack target X' which afterwards and using 'AI' it is hoped that this will be accomplished 'autonomously' and then afterwards an 'attack target Y' order (and so on...) or a 'return to base' order can be issued to the drone's AI. However in order to issue such orders a datalink is needed and this can still be jammed which means that there's a chance that the order wouldn't get (or timely get) to the drone.


Agree that a human will be in control of said winged automaton. Seems to me a forward command and control aircraft will be necessary as I can not see the pilot having time for more than basic tactical control inputs in a fight. Else a dedicated controller in the backseat of a 4th-gen somewhere perhaps.

I suggest not connecting autonomy with Ai, TLAM is autonomous, but can be redirected by a human (or perhaps even by a fusion-engine's target re-prioritization lists, who knows). But a TLAM has no learning-machine in it.

ricnunes wrote:What's interesting with the 'Loyal-Wingman' concept is that a manned aircraft and thus the human being that gives orders to the drone are much closer to each other compared to a ground based station or even an air based station (such as an AEW&C aircraft) located afar which means that the data-link between the ordering human and the drone in the case of the 'Loyal-Wingman' concept should be much, much harder to be jammed.
This BTW, is another reason why I don't think that manned combat aircraft will be fully replaced by drones even in the future.


Agree, not sure how the control will work when far out in front. As I said I think it takes a specialist C2 aircraft to herd these cats. Seems like we could be close to a capability, but then you think of all the testing and development to come to master the control of them. O think it will take a couple of generations of software, to make them really boogie in a fight. I guess you can then replace the system with an actual full sized drone fighter wingman.

When I look at them I keep thinking why do these things even need a learning-machine, when a rules-based system can land an X-47B on a carrier? Where and when exactly do they need 'Ai'?

They don't need it at all. That's the very reason why there are humans involved. In the end the Loyal Wingman is just following orders, it's not making its own orders, or its own rules and decisions. It's just executing decisions already made by a human. Just like a TLAM does, but more elaborately.

The links I gave above make the point (at length) that these are complementary systems and supports, but never seen as a replacement for manned aircraft capabilities.
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Unread post04 Oct 2020, 22:27

element1loop wrote:Agree that a human will be in control of said winged automaton. Seems to me a forward command and control aircraft will be necessary as I can not see the pilot having time for more than basic tactical control inputs in a fight. Else a dedicated controller in the backseat of a 4th-gen somewhere perhaps.

I suggest not connecting autonomy with Ai, TLAM is autonomous, but can be redirected by a human (or perhaps even by a fusion-engine's target re-prioritization lists, who knows). But a TLAM has no learning-machine in it.

ricnunes wrote:What's interesting with the 'Loyal-Wingman' concept is that a manned aircraft and thus the human being that gives orders to the drone are much closer to each other compared to a ground based station or even an air based station (such as an AEW&C aircraft) located afar which means that the data-link between the ordering human and the drone in the case of the 'Loyal-Wingman' concept should be much, much harder to be jammed.
This BTW, is another reason why I don't think that manned combat aircraft will be fully replaced by drones even in the future.


Agree, not sure how the control will work when far out in front. As I said I think it takes a specialist C2 aircraft to herd these cats. Seems like we could be close to a capability, but then you think of all the testing and development to come to master the control of them. O think it will take a couple of generations of software, to make them really boogie in a fight. I guess you can then replace the system with an actual full sized drone fighter wingman.


IMO, those future drones/UCAVs/whatever... will have a form of 'AI' (I know you hate the term but for a simplicity sake I hope you don't mind that I keep using it?) which will be able to engage a target pointed out by a human being. Basically I believe that the procedure would be something like this:
1- The human operator/pilot (for example in a fighter aircraft like the F-35) will select a target available in his/hers Tactical Display.
2- The same Tactical Display will display an interface (a menu for instance) which allows the pilot to order the drone to attack the target.
3- After this, the drone's 'AI' after receiving the order from the fighter aircraft pilot will 'command' the drone to fly towards the target and engage it with the proper weapon, all of this autonomously.
4- After engaging the target the drone will return to the formation with the human 'wing leader'.

Basically the above is what already happens for decades in combat flight simulations such as Falcon BMS or DCS which anyone can play on a PC. So, I would say that the above it quite possible with the available technology.

As such, I believe that the above could be implemented together with fighter aircraft with a single pilot such as the F-35 (and thus, no need for a twin-seat fighter aircraft or an AEW&C aircraft).
Last edited by ricnunes on 05 Oct 2020, 13:03, edited 2 times in total.
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Unread post05 Oct 2020, 03:48

SAM systems have automated firing sequences that do not require permission to fire in certain modes. To fight computerized opponents it may one day be necessary to do a similar automation in a fighter, especially if it has to use AAMs to protect itself from incoming stealth-ish missiles.
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Unread post06 Oct 2020, 07:28

madrat wrote:SAM systems have automated firing sequences that do not require permission to fire in certain modes. To fight computerized opponents it may one day be necessary to do a similar automation in a fighter, especially if it has to use AAMs to protect itself from incoming stealth-ish missiles.


The degree of autonomy you want for an IADS is...debatable.

https://www.cnas.org/publications/reports/patriot-wars.
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Unread post06 Oct 2020, 09:32

marauder2048 wrote:
madrat wrote:SAM systems have automated firing sequences that do not require permission to fire in certain modes. To fight computerized opponents it may one day be necessary to do a similar automation in a fighter, especially if it has to use AAMs to protect itself from incoming stealth-ish missiles.


The degree of autonomy you want for an IADS is...debatable.

https://www.cnas.org/publications/reports/patriot-wars.


That was interesting to read, thank you.

I think SAM systems need to have ability to operate very autonomously but with possibility for manual interruption and operation in all stages of engagement. There are situations where totally autonomous operation would be required for being effective. Like massed attack with cruise or ballistic missiles. But SAM systems definitely need to be "smarter" than Patriot system was in those fracticides. SAM systems need better sensors and networked sensor fusion to reliably identify and track targets. I think current Patriot upgrade is addressing a lot of these issues.

https://www.army.mil/article/225044/pat ... ernization

Before PDB8, Maule said it was difficult for the Patriot system to recognize if it had been affected by Advanced Electronic Countermeasures, or AECM, which could result in false tracks and firing on false targets. PDB8 AECM mitigation now uses advanced algorithms to determine AECM attack patterns and remove false tracks from the operator scope, he said.

Non-cooperative target recognition, or NCTR, is being added to the system. Operators can now request additional combat identification information about the target and Maule said "This will help prevent fratricide".

"Full Mode 5 Integration provides aircraft position data and provides more identification certainty when looking at aircraft that are closely spaced together", CW5 Maule said.


It sounds like it was high time this is happening. Basically upgraded from 1980s analog/digital technology with to modern fully digital technology with a lot more computing power for better automation and modern HMI to give operators better SA and control of the system.
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