Announcement

Collapse
No announcement yet.

Robot Air Attack Squadron Bound for Iraq

Collapse
X
 
  • Filter
  • Time
  • Show
Clear All
new posts

  • Robot Air Attack Squadron Bound for Iraq

    If this program works I could easily see this a huge boon to continuing the support the Iraqis without expending the lives of American soldiers.

    Robot Air Attack Squadron Bound for Iraq
    By CHARLES J. HANLEY, AP Special Correspondent
    07/15/2007

    BALAD AIR BASE, Iraq - The airplane is the size of a jet fighter, powered by a turboprop engine, able to fly at 300 mph and reach 50,000 feet. It's outfitted with infrared, laser and radar targeting, and with a ton and a half of guided bombs and missiles.

    The Reaper is loaded, but there's no one on board. Its pilot, as it bombs targets in Iraq, will sit at a video console 7,000 miles away in Nevada.

    The arrival of these outsized U.S. "hunter-killer" drones, in aviation history's first robot attack squadron, will be a watershed moment even in an Iraq that has seen too many innovative ways to hunt and kill.

    That moment, one the Air Force will likely low-key, is expected "soon," says the regional U.S. air commander. How soon? "We're still working that," Lt. Gen. Gary North said in an interview.

    The Reaper's first combat deployment is expected in Afghanistan, and senior Air Force officers estimate it will land in Iraq sometime between this fall and next spring. They look forward to it.

    "With more Reapers, I could send manned airplanes home," North said.

    The Associated Press has learned that the Air Force is building a 400,000-square-foot expansion of the concrete ramp area now used for Predator drones here at Balad, the biggest U.S. air base in Iraq, 50 miles north of Baghdad. That new staging area could be turned over to Reapers.

    It's another sign that the Air Force is planning for an extended stay in Iraq, supporting Iraqi government forces in any continuing conflict, even if U.S. ground troops are drawn down in the coming years.

    The estimated two dozen or more unmanned MQ-1 Predators now doing surveillance over Iraq, as the 46th Expeditionary Reconnaissance Squadron, have become mainstays of the U.S. war effort, offering round-the-clock airborne "eyes" watching over road convoys, tracking nighttime insurgent movements via infrared sensors, and occasionally unleashing one of their two Hellfire missiles on a target.

    From about 36,000 flying hours in 2005, the Predators are expected to log 66,000 hours this year over Iraq and Afghanistan.

    The MQ-9 Reaper, when compared with the 1995-vintage Predator, represents a major evolution of the unmanned aerial vehicle, or UAV.

    At five tons gross weight, the Reaper is four times heavier than the Predator. Its size _ 36 feet long, with a 66-foot wingspan _ is comparable to the profile of the Air Force's workhorse A-10 attack plane. It can fly twice as fast and twice as high as the Predator. Most significantly, it carries many more weapons.

    While the Predator is armed with two Hellfire missiles, the Reaper can carry 14 of the air-to-ground weapons _ or four Hellfires and two 500-pound bombs.

    "It's not a recon squadron," Col. Joe Guasella, operations chief for the Central Command's air component, said of the Reapers. "It's an attack squadron, with a lot more kinetic ability."

    "Kinetic" _ Pentagon argot for destructive power _ is what the Air Force had in mind when it christened its newest robot plane with a name associated with death.

    "The name Reaper captures the lethal nature of this new weapon system," Gen. T. Michael Moseley, Air Force chief of staff, said in announcing the name last September.

    General Atomics of San Diego has built at least nine of the MQ-9s thus far, at a cost of $69 million per set of four aircraft, with ground equipment.

    The Air Force's 432nd Wing, a UAV unit formally established on May 1, is to eventually fly 60 Reapers and 160 Predators. The numbers to be assigned to Iraq and Afghanistan will be classified.

    The Reaper is expected to be flown as the Predator is _ by a two-member team of pilot and sensor operator who work at computer control stations and video screens that display what the UAV "sees." Teams at Balad, housed in a hangar beside the runways, perform the takeoffs and landings, and similar teams at Nevada's Creech Air Force Base, linked to the aircraft via satellite, take over for the long hours of overflying the Iraqi landscape.

    American ground troops, equipped with laptops that can download real-time video from UAVs overhead, "want more and more of it," said Maj. Chris Snodgrass, the Predator squadron commander here.

    The Reaper's speed will help. "Our problem is speed," Snodgrass said of the 140-mph Predator. "If there are troops in contact, we may not get there fast enough. The Reaper will be faster and fly farther."

    The new robot plane is expected to be able to stay aloft for 14 hours fully armed, watching an area and waiting for targets to emerge.

    "It's going to bring us flexibility, range, speed and persistence," said regional commander North, "such that I will be able to work lots of areas for a long, long time."

    The British also are impressed with the Reaper, and are buying three for deployment in Afghanistan later this year. The Royal Air Force version will stick to the "recon" mission, however _ no weapons on board.
    All your ACG posts are belong to us!

  • #2
    Anyone ever read "Forever Peace" - the sort of follow up to "Forever War" by Joe Haldeman?

    In the book, rather than fight in person, American troops use remotely-piloted vehicles called "soldierboys" and "flyboys".

    The only downside with the system used in the book is that if your RPV is destroyed, the operator dies on the basis that he is hardwired into the equipment controlling the vehicle from a base several thousand miles away.

    So this system is better!

    Dr. S.
    Imagine a ball of iron, the size of the sun. And once a year a tiny sparrow brushes its surface with the tip of its wing. And when that ball of iron, the size of the sun, is worn away to nothing, your punishment will barely have begun.

    www.sinisterincorporated.co.uk

    www.tabletown.co.uk

    Comment


    • #3
      I just wonder how long it will take for someone to figure out how to break the link to the operators around the world? ECM in other words.

      Pruitt
      Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

      Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

      by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

      Comment


      • #4
        I worry about this innovation. The detachment for the operator is all too obvious, they are not in harms way and will view the whole thing as merely a video game.

        Initially I don't think there will be any great problems, but a few years down the road when all the military is controlled this way it will be a very different world.

        Body counts will probably be used to define the High Scores of the Kids playing the game.......

        Comment


        • #5
          forever peace was a let down on the forever war one (the best sci-fi book ever)
          "Freedom cannot exist without discipline, self-discipline, and rights cannot exist without duties. Those who do not observe their duties do not deserve their rights."--Oriana Fallaci

          Comment


          • #6
            Originally posted by piero1971 View Post
            forever peace was a let down on the forever war one (the best sci-fi book ever)
            Oh yes, I agree with you there, but the concept was interesting.

            Have you read Forever Free? It's a direct sequel to the first book.

            Dr. S.
            Imagine a ball of iron, the size of the sun. And once a year a tiny sparrow brushes its surface with the tip of its wing. And when that ball of iron, the size of the sun, is worn away to nothing, your punishment will barely have begun.

            www.sinisterincorporated.co.uk

            www.tabletown.co.uk

            Comment


            • #7
              Originally posted by Geordie View Post
              I worry about this innovation. The detachment for the operator is all too obvious, they are not in harms way and will view the whole thing as merely a video game.

              Initially I don't think there will be any great problems, but a few years down the road when all the military is controlled this way it will be a very different world.

              Body counts will probably be used to define the High Scores of the Kids playing the game.......
              good point! I was surprised to read that the reaper operators will be 7,000 miles away in Nevada!
              All your ACG posts are belong to us!

              Comment


              • #8
                I like that, very Cyberpunk. Let's hope they can't be hacked though!

                Comment


                • #9
                  Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                  I just wonder how long it will take for someone to figure out how to break the link to the operators around the world? ECM in other words.

                  Pruitt
                  Quite a lengthy and long time. A very complicated code made of micro bursts is what controls the planes, not your local Radio Shack battery operated controls.
                  "If you are right, then you are right even if everyone says you are wrong. If you are wrong then you are wrong even if everyone says you are right." William Penn.

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Trailboss,

                    I hope you are right, but I have a "feeling" that there will be something simple in concept that could do the trick. It could be taking out communications satellites that bounce the signal. There may also be a way to jam the actual signal, or drown it out. Bad weather may also be a problem.

                    Roland surface to air missiles were the next wonder weapon for the US Army until someone realised they only work in clear weather! Unfortunately, the US Army fights in all weather!

                    Those people sniffers the US used in Laos and Viet Nam also come to mind. Excellent concept, but foiled by enemy urinating on them.

                    Pruitt
                    Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                    Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                    by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Geordie View Post
                      I worry about this innovation. The detachment for the operator is all too obvious, they are not in harms way and will view the whole thing as merely a video game.

                      Initially I don't think there will be any great problems, but a few years down the road when all the military is controlled this way it will be a very different world.

                      Body counts will probably be used to define the High Scores of the Kids playing the game.......
                      When will it be available for download on X-Box Live?


                      43.7M$ for a pair, I wonder how much a dozen will cost...
                      "The secret of war lies in the communications" - Napoleon Bonaparte

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by Pruitt View Post
                        Trailboss,

                        I hope you are right, but I have a "feeling" that there will be something simple in concept that could do the trick. It could be taking out communications satellites that bounce the signal. There may also be a way to jam the actual signal, or drown it out. Bad weather may also be a problem.

                        Roland surface to air missiles were the next wonder weapon for the US Army until someone realised they only work in clear weather! Unfortunately, the US Army fights in all weather!

                        Those people sniffers the US used in Laos and Viet Nam also come to mind. Excellent concept, but foiled by enemy urinating on them.

                        Pruitt
                        Either taking out the satellites, or bribing someone to give up the codes, transmission frequencies, etc. are really the only 2 practical methods of doing away with controlling the airships from the USA. If the satellites are taken out they can move the operators much closer to the field of action. If the codes and frequencies are highjacked then they can be changed.
                        "If you are right, then you are right even if everyone says you are wrong. If you are wrong then you are wrong even if everyone says you are right." William Penn.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I got to thinking about the armed UAVs and I am now curious about something. How well would they operate in mixed "dirty" weather? In clear Blue skies and a little cloud cover they should do well. I would like to see them have to operate in areas with active thunderstorms. I also would expect for them to have maintenace problems in the loose dust found in Iraq.

                          I am actually going to miss the deactivating F-117s as they were all weather aircraft and we have a need for them.

                          Pruitt
                          Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                          Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                          by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

                          Comment

                          Latest Topics

                          Collapse

                          Working...
                          X