The debate about piloted aircraft vs. unmanned has simmered down of late as Predators and others improve their effectiveness at hitting something. But as a reader notes, there may be compelling reasons to keep men and women in the cockpit -- like staying alive! Secretary Donley and COS Schwartz -- are you listening? Enjoy this amusing and well written piece by someone signing himself, Fred Pierce (former F-18D pilot):
On a more humorous note, here is a case study against the use of UAVs…
Consider this… You’re a Marine F/A-18 pilot flying along in enemy territory. At a pre determined time, the crypto loads reset to the next day’s code list. This happens at the same time throughout the entire theater. Unfortunately for you, you realize at that time that the COMM/NAV guys screwed up and loaded the wrong codes. They are one day off.
Just then, every aircraft in theater stays green as you turn yellow (unknown) on every allied C2 display. Your wingman just happens to be a UAV who just noticed that you lack proper authentication. He now tries to visually ID you by sending video footage of your aircraft back to C2 for confirmation, but before it can slew the camera toward you, you begin taking AAA fire. A 57mm round explodes near the UAV on your side of it knocking out it’s antennas and causing damage to the airframe. The sensors on the UAV pick up the IR signature of the explosion. It’s computer interprets it as an air to air missile launch. Given the time between signature and damage considering its location in relation to the nearest unknown/enemy aircraft (YOU) and the UAV’s location relative to your nose (in degrees), its AI process interprets it as an AA-11 Archer IR missile launched by a MIG-29 with helmet mounted sight (YOU). Additionally, AI determines its lack of response from C2 (due to its antenna being MIA) to mean C2 is now a casualty.
It formulates a course of action based on scenario threads in its database. Its primary directives (no harm to coalition personnel or equipment) clear the course of action.
You then notice your wingman conduct a flawlessly executed barrel roll to your six o-clock position as it fires two AIM-9X sidewinders right up your tail pipes. You eject and watch the UAV do a victory roll (left over code from the computer science intern at Northrop Grumman who couldn’t resist sneaking his signature code into the OS).
You spend the next seven years in an enemy POW camp while technicians all over California celebrate the first air to air kill by their “flawless” weapon system. You are listed as missing in action and assumed dead. In an effort to promote more government spending in California (in the form of UAV orders), Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger uses the case to argue that UAVs are superior to piloted aircraft because it defeated the enemy MIG-29 that YOU failed to see or avoid before it blasted you to pieces. (This assumption was made because the seaman who downloaded the mission data was pissed about his stop loss announcement. When the computer reported a discrepancy in the logical sequence of events for the mission, the seaman overrode the computer and selected the suggested solution, ie. you were destroyed by the MIG-29 before UAV engagement, even though the system marked it as “Unlikely.” He then said, “Screw the Navy!” and went to midrats.
Yea man… UAVs ROCK!!!
Lets keep men in the cockpit.