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  • More Air Force Drones Are Crashing

    A record number of Air Force drones crashed in major accidents last year, documents show, straining the U.S. military’s fleet of robotic aircraft when it is in more demand than ever for counterterrorism missions in an expanding array of war zones.

    The Reaper has been bedeviled by a rash of sudden electrical failures that have caused the 21/2-ton drone to lose power and drop from the sky, according to accident-investigation documents obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

    All told, 20 large Air Force drones were destroyed or sustained at least $2 million in damage in accidents last year, the worst annual toll ever, according to a Washington Post investigation. The Pentagon has shrouded the extent of the problem and kept details of most of the crashes a secret.

    The Reaper’s mishap rate — the number of major crashes per 100,000 hours flown — more than doubled compared with 2014. The aircraft, when fully equipped, cost about $14 million each to replace.

    Drones going ‘stupid’

    Military drones have been dogged by persistent safety and reliability problems since the first Predator was deployed to the Balkans on a combat mission two decades ago.

    Of the 269 Predators purchased by the Air Force since then, about half have been destroyed or badly damaged in accidents, records show.
    LINK

  • #2
    New technology.

    Although at $14m each and no Human losses, its a relatively cheap problem.
    Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by Arnold J Rimmer View Post
      New technology.

      Although at $14m each and no Human losses, its a relatively cheap problem.
      Unless you're paying for them, which the taxpayers are.

      Frankly, for $14M apiece, we're entitled to expect greater reliability.

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      • #4
        Hence the argument against them. On one side they can be jammed/ or reprogrammed. Can't do that with a manned system. On the other side is the potential of loosing a aircrew. Above my paygrade.

        Just imagine what will happen when the bad guys start to reprogram them against our own troops. And that will happen...

        Better is a manned unit.
        Credo quia absurdum.


        Quantum mechanics describes nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And yet it fully agrees with experiment. So I hope you can accept nature as She is - absurd! - Richard Feynman

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Bwaha View Post
          Hence the argument against them. On one side they can be jammed/ or reprogrammed. Can't do that with a manned system. On the other side is the potential of loosing a aircrew. Above my paygrade.

          Just imagine what will happen when the bad guys start to reprogram them against our own troops. And that will happen...

          Better is a manned unit.
          That's been my concern from day one. Unless you can create a fully autonomous, self contained system, which brings its own set of problems, this will always be a threat.
          "Artillery lends dignity to what might otherwise be a vulgar brawl." - Frederick the Great

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          • #6
            Yeah I agree. Note that this article is old.

            http://www.wired.com/2010/01/killer-micro-drone/
            Credo quia absurdum.


            Quantum mechanics describes nature as absurd from the point of view of common sense. And yet it fully agrees with experiment. So I hope you can accept nature as She is - absurd! - Richard Feynman

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            • #7
              Question for the pilots here, one reason I've seen given for the higher crash rates is a reduction in situational awareness on the part of the operators. No noise, vibration, etc. to augment the instruments. Does this seem valid to you?
              Any metaphor will tear if stretched over too much reality.

              Questions about our site? See the FAQ.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Bwaha View Post
                Hence the argument against them. On one side they can be jammed/ or reprogrammed. Can't do that with a manned system. On the other side is the potential of loosing a aircrew. Above my paygrade.

                Just imagine what will happen when the bad guys start to reprogram them against our own troops. And that will happen...

                Better is a manned unit.
                That was the argument against smart ord presented during the 60s and early 70s.

                The truth is that since modern combat aircraft are so advanced
                that crews fire at blips on a screen or electronically-communicated GPS co-ords, so a sufficiently advanced hacker could just as easily dupe them.

                The only difference between a drone and a manned aircraft is the absence of risk to human crew and the cost. Remove the cockpit and life-sustaining and ejection systems, and you end up with a lighter, smaller, more fuel-efficient, and cheaper aircraft that can turn tighter than a manned craft.
                Any man can hold his place when the bands play and women throw flowers; it is when the enemy presses close and metal shears through the ranks that one can acertain which are soldiers, and which are not.

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Bwaha View Post
                  Hence the argument against them. On one side they can be jammed/ or reprogrammed. Can't do that with a manned system. On the other side is the potential of loosing a aircrew. Above my paygrade.

                  Just imagine what will happen when the bad guys start to reprogram them against our own troops. And that will happen...

                  Better is a manned unit.
                  Jamming will be the weakness.
                  Politics is the art of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly and applying the wrong remedies.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by GCoyote View Post
                    Question for the pilots here, one reason I've seen given for the higher crash rates is a reduction in situational awareness on the part of the operators. No noise, vibration, etc. to augment the instruments. Does this seem valid to you?
                    Gary,

                    While the cues you mention are useful when flying a piloted aircraft, it appears that the current issue with the “drone” accident rate is the lack of system redundancy. A single generator on an aircraft that relies on data relays to provide flight control makes for a bad day when the generator fails.

                    Bob

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