It's happening: AI vs Human

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nutshell

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Unread post27 Jul 2020, 20:49

I didn't find anything about this issue, so i'm going to post it.

https://www.airforcemag.com/air-force-t ... man-pilot/

Not a last minute news but still quite fresh.

In a year from now, the US are going to make Elon Musk's military wet dream to come true: fighter drones.

I don't really know what to think. By listening to the many fighter pilots podcasts, we're not really pushing the human body so hard it's a limiting factor, maybe is it going to be a nice way to save money?

Smaller aircraft, better fuel efficiency, expendable, saves time spent on pilot training.

Combat wise, i can't see anything else but a downgrade.

Thoughts?
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hornetfinn

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Unread post28 Jul 2020, 12:42

I don't think real fighter drones will become a real option to manned fighter aircraft within several decades. IMO, first there will be manned fighter aircraft with increasing capabilities through AI and associated technologies. I see loyal wingman drones becoming more widespread but they will not replace manned fighter aircraft but rather complement their capabilities. I think most promising use of these drones would be SEAD/DEAD, EW and CAS missions. Drones could do the most dangerous things like getting close to enemy, act as a decoy or emit signals.

Elon Musk is right that fully autonomous fighter aircraft could be made a lot more maneuverable than manned fighter aircraft. However that alone would be of little use if those drones can't get close enough to use that advantage. It will be tough and long road to make them capable of doing all kinds of missions reliably and in large numbers and co-operating with each other effectively.

Of course someday we will definitely see fully autonomous fighter aircraft controlled by very advanced AI which can beat human beings in pretty much everything. That will take a lot of time and money and IMO we are still taking first real steps towards that direction. I doubt that will happen within the next 20 years at least and might take longer than that.
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nutshell

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Unread post28 Jul 2020, 15:54

hornetfinn wrote:I don't think real fighter drones will become a real option to manned fighter aircraft within several decades. IMO, first there will be manned fighter aircraft with increasing capabilities through AI and associated technologies. I see loyal wingman drones becoming more widespread but they will not replace manned fighter aircraft but rather complement their capabilities. I think most promising use of these drones would be SEAD/DEAD, EW and CAS missions. Drones could do the most dangerous things like getting close to enemy, act as a decoy or emit signals.

Elon Musk is right that fully autonomous fighter aircraft could be made a lot more maneuverable than manned fighter aircraft. However that alone would be of little use if those drones can't get close enough to use that advantage. It will be tough and long road to make them capable of doing all kinds of missions reliably and in large numbers and co-operating with each other effectively.

Of course someday we will definitely see fully autonomous fighter aircraft controlled by very advanced AI which can beat human beings in pretty much everything. That will take a lot of time and money and IMO we are still taking first real steps towards that direction. I doubt that will happen within the next 20 years at least and might take longer than that.


The ACM argument got debunked by many fighter pilots (there's an interview about that on Mover's YT channel). A fighter pilot is far away from physical limits when that happens and that's the worst case scenario, ACMs.

I still think the biggest point on favor of combat drones is that you can make smaller aircraft (no cockpit/canopy), carrying more fuel and with a tougher superstructure. If anything, those drones should last longer than a typical manned fighter.
Another one is that being intrinsically lighter. it can also lead to better fuel economy (which i guess is one of the main concern in year 2020).

OTOH a combat drone needs special attention to jamming, increase reliancy to a lower orbit, satellite constellation (which is going to be really hard to defend) and forces the "IT Guys" to fight the ever ending war of bandwidth constraints.
The last part is crucial, since, as i said, a high performing network is going to be exposed to the attacks from the enemy.

Probably 60 years too early.
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marauder2048

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Unread post28 Jul 2020, 18:09

If you look at typical weight due to the pilot plus his support equipment it's around 1000 pounds.
And for typical cockpit volumes, assuming the UCAV has a flush design, the reclaimed volume is
not large say: 200 gallons. If you could convert all of that to JP-8 that's around 1300 pounds of fuel.

So you are really talking about single digit percentage improvements in empty weight and
internal fuel. It's nothing to sneeze at but's not the sort of gain it's often made out to be.
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sprstdlyscottsmn

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Unread post28 Jul 2020, 18:33

I think the real advantage is the ability to monitor air data, positional data, and performance data at absurd speeds. If an AI and a Human Pilot both decide that a full power, sustained speed turn, is the best course for the moment the AI will get there more quickly and hold it more precisely.
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hornetfinn

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Unread post29 Jul 2020, 11:59

I think the biggest advantage what fully unmanned drones could have is that they would not need years of constant training and enough flight hours to keep those skills up. So O&S costs could be very small (just enough to keep everything running) and you could just upload a "pilot" to a jet within seconds and the skills would not deteriorate even if it didn't fly for decades. This would also allow them keeping up very high operating tempo a lot longer. Maybe we will also see maintenance done by AI controlled robots. Some day something that will very likely happen but I bet we will have pilots in fighter jets at least until F-35 is phased out.
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sprstdlyscottsmn

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Unread post29 Jul 2020, 12:42

So many of us are thinking about "the mission" that we completely forget about the lack of training and skills maintenance needed. Excellent point.
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madrat

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Unread post29 Jul 2020, 13:17

Drones do not need to win 1:1. Drones can offer 10:1 exchange ratio or better, with inferior capabilities, and inefficient technique, because it only needs to win once. The human will fatigue.

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