Skip to comments.J-UCAS Canceled, But Not for Naught (Socialism Kills Another Military Program)
Posted on 02/20/2006 7:59:06 AM PST by Dont_Tread_On_Me_888
US Navy Capt. Ralph Alderson, program director of the Joint-Unmanned Combat Aerial System (J-UCAS) program, said right at the start that he would address the elephant in the room.
The FY07 defense budget provides zero funding for the J-UCAS, and the newly released 2005 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR) calls for the program's "restructuring," as many of the attendees at the Association of Unmanned Systems International's Unmanned Systems Program Review 2006 conference in Washington, DC, on Feb. 8 perhaps already knew, Capt. Alderson said.
"Restructuring" would appear to be a euphemism for "canceled," but despite standing at the podium with a PowerPoint presentation for a program now in limbo, the J-UCAS program director said not all is for naught that there are many lessons learned which can be applied to the restructured program, the exact nature of which is still to be determined.
"The Navy will be developing a long-range UCAV [unmanned combat aerial vehicle]. That is the sum total of what I can tell you," Capt. Alderson said. "The impacts are still being worked pretty hard. But we're still committed to getting a good solid demonstration done, so we can pass lessons learned to the Navy."
Seen as a future family of US Air Force and Navy UCAVs employing unmanned aircraft as large as F-16s, the J-UCAS program was supposed to develop unmanned vehicles able to perform a variety of missions, including deep strike and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (see "Drones That Sting"). But Ryan Henry, the US Defense Department principal deputy undersecretary for policy, said in a presentation on the QDR that the J-UCAS program is being restructured to include an air-to-air refueling capability and "more options for payloads and distance."
Asked if the J-UCAS program would essentially be folded into a still undefined US Navy long-range UCAV project, Capt. Alderson would say only that "there's a lot of discussion. We're not seeing an Air Force element, so it looks like the Navy going forward." The J-UCAS program, among other things, did not plan to allow aircraft carrier "cats and traps," or catapulted takeoffs and trapped landings, yet carrier survivability is the Navy's highest priority, Capt. Alderson said.
Prior to the announced restructuring, the J-UCAS program had completed more than 60 test flights of the Boeing X-45A vehicle, culminating in August 2005 with a demonstration of preemptive destruction suppression of enemy air defenses (DEAD) involving two X-45As. Tests also included dropping a GPS-guided weapon, simultaneous control of two X-45As by one operator, and the transfer of control over two vehicles while in flight to another control station 900 miles away.
The two X-45B vehicles funded in October 2005, representing a $40-million funding cut in the program that reduced the planned vehicles from three to two, were to have been delivered by March or April, with a first flight in 2008. Yet another iteration, the X-45C, was to have delivered three vehicles carrying the GBU-31 Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) for the purpose of developing software for effectively controlling weapons, with tests to have begun in 2007.
A representative from Boeing Air Force Systems, the developer of the X-45 vehicles, said the company couldn't comment on the future of the J-UCAS program, because it has not yet received any official word from the Air Force on its status.
Capt. Alderson said that during the course of the J-UCAS program, he has had difficulty making clear in briefings to senior leaders in the Pentagon that the central challenge J-UCAS was intended to address was the in-flight autonomy of mission planning, not simply the autonomous control of the aircraft. Mission planning was supposed to be the heart of the J-UCAS, capitalizing on network-centric capabilities that would permit multiple aircraft to work together on various kinds of missions. Capt. Alderson said his own personal lessons learned from J-UCAS include the understanding that the "affordability" of unmanned aerial vehicles is often overstated, that the payoff is in the operations of the aircraft and not its acquisition.
Today, socialism is killing the ability of the USA to fund its military and defend us in the future.
Please ping your list.
Shortly after September 11, 2001 I sent an E-mail to a friend, an active duty Officer serving inside the Beltway. We have known and worked together for 16 years at that point.
He asked me to go back through Vietnam and what general trends should he be expecting.
I talked about infiltration of our base camps by locals apparently supporting our efforts. This, Thank God, hasnt happened; yet.
I talked about the lack of trained personnel and special equipment required for this type of war. I warned that after a period of time every weapon system the US has will be judged by its ability to support the ongoing war on terrorism. Even systems of limited use will bully their way in because failure to do so means their end (funding cuts). This continues to happen.
Then I talked about the real threat to our ongoing war on terrorism - Congressional Re-Election Bribery, also known as pork spending, Congressional set asides, etc.. I told him we would have support from Congress until they realized that there isnt enough money to pay for the war and buy their way through a re-election campaign. When that happened the lesser of the two projects, supporting the war, would go unfounded. That we are seeing today.
Until Congressional conceit is reigned in and they are forcefully convinced that their continued residence inside the Beltway is not necessary for our national survival the nations must pay bills will never be paid.
The lessons learned by Congress during Vietnam, and there are many many more, are still alive today. And we see bits and pieces of them in the daily "news" reported by the LMSM.
Wonder which hotels will be used as emergency helicopter landing zones this time.
I keep seeing this opinion being forwarded, and I still don't understand what you folks are basing it on. It is just a ridiculous notion.
I hear you.
However, they can do unmanned docking in space (granted, the physics are different), and it seems to me if the UMAVs can be landed, then they can be refueled in mid-air.
Tech aside, there is too big a correlation of the huge increase in nonDefense spending and the cancelation of weapon programs.
I know that in the military, the buzz right now is NOT a push to find new advanced weapon programs, but the REAL pressure to the miltiary is to find ways to cut costs.
A simple chart showing the rise in the OMB Superfunction "HR" (mostly social programs) over the last 20 years overlayed on a chart showing the reduction in % of total spending going toward Defense tell the real story.
We have seen steadliy dropping % of total spending going toward the military and a steadily surging rise in % of total spending going toward socialism (Superfunction "HR"). I have studied these numbers and charts an enormous amount of time, and it is clear--socialism is preventing the ability of the USA to defend itself in the near future.
IIRC, the same article in Inside the Air Force that said they were bailing from JUCAS also stated that the USAF was pulling to the left (starting sooner) its medium manned bomber replacement
With a plane that big it is almost 'because we can'. Adding the humans still adds a lot of flexibility and in a plane that big it is not at a sacrifice of much payload. Nor, with several people, is it a sacrifice of much loiter time.
What makes you think we don't already have that? FReepers forget that we hid a big-ass B-2 Bomber program from the world for over 10 years. (I know nothing). Yes, I am a former Naval Aviator. 'Zoomie' is an Air Force term, but I will forgive the insult.
I did functional test in the lab on that autopilot. Killed me thousands of fake passengers :D It is a solid piece of hardware though nowhere near cutting edge in terms or raw horsepower. Most avionics is not due to heavy cert requirements.
F-117s are OLD and '52s much more so. You can ALWAYS keep around a ton old hardware for the same cost as just a few of the new stuff. This has been true since the dawn of time.
Yeah, but not quite. Things are different when both target and targeter are moving in 3 axis. With a runway, or even a moving carrier, you have a predictable or stable bearing to target. In-Flight Refueling requires coordination at a speed I don't see a computer being able to handle soon. Speed is not the problem, but the time it takes to recognize a situation, translate it into a transmittable signal, have that signal recognized on the ground by the pilot, have the pilot put in the correct control input, have that input transmitted back to the aircraft, and finally have the aircraft respond to the ground input before the condition changes.
I think the ground pilot will always be a bit behind the aircraft, just because of the latency factor. My eyes and ass will tell me what to do in the cockpit 100 times faster than anyone on the ground can transmit those messages up to a remote piloted aircraft.
If you factor in inflation, the cost of one F-22 is cheaper than the cost of one F-14 was in 1970. Also, the F-22 is 10 times cheaper to maintain today than a Tomcat was in the early 80s WITHOUT factoring in inflation.
In response to leftist critics, Lyndon Johnson insisted that we could have both "guns and butter," which was how this budgetary choice was phrased at the time.
Of course, he was wrong. The Great Society effectively built in a long-term guarantee of federal bankruptcy, without doing much of anything to alleviate poverty.
Anyway, as far as Delta, I think they are getting exactly what they deserve. Stupid leadership and stupid unions add up to a stupid airline. Both sides are to blame, and yeah, I mean the pilots too. The day I became eligible to take the money and run, I did.
If you want to run a profitable airline today, you have Southwest and the great Jet Blue for examples on how to do it.
Disagree. The USAF is pushing for UAVs hard. My guess is that J-UCAV wasn't going the direction the USAF thinks it needs - but I would bet majority opinion in the USAF right now is that the F-35 will be the last manned fighter.
Programs get cancelled for lots of reasons. I'll be going to a meeting soon on a program that was grossly oversold, has taken 6 years to make 2 years of progress, and doesn't meet the actual needs of anyone in the field. And at the moment, it isn't flyable still.
Sometimes programs go awry.
See, that is where we differ. To me, the sound coming from a GE-90 is beautiful, all that kinetic energy barely in check behind the cover, the hum of the blades, I just love it.
All newer aircraft have their FMC variations, but essentially they can take you from N1 to touchdown with very help from me. Sometimes, all I got to do was rotate with the yoke, and then it was switches and dials the rest of the way.
I pinged Rokke because he is new to the modern FMC on his big MD-11, and he is in a better position to describe them.
I don't think this is the case.
Regardless of techical issues, this program is our key UAV program. If the money is available, you make improvements to the program. New software, new engine, new whatever, . . . If the money is availble, you just prototype a new model or variant. At some point in the future, UAVs will be a major platform. This program was our developmental program. Since UAVs will play some role in the far off future, or even the major role, then if the money is available, you keep improving the developmental program up until the time full scale production is ripe.
This program is being killed for the reasons I stated--there is no money! The cost of welfare and charity, and the points I made in #14 are the reasons why the program is being killed.
Socialism trumps the defense and security of the USA.
Again, money is the problem. The USA is finding it impossible to fund the military and have advanced new tech programs for tomorrow. Social spending is soaring, and it is killing the ability of the USA to fund R&D and advanced weapon systems.
...only that the Virginia-class attack subs have been variously described as scaled-back Seawolfs (Seawolves? That's kinda like Toronto Maple Leafs, isn't it?) That doesn't suggest that there was a black program, only that the Navy couldn't afford the Seawolf-class SSN's.
OTOH, the original M1 Main Battle Tank was also described as a cheaper MBT-70. It's much more than that now.
I take your point.
With regard to UAV's...the technology and capability in this area is moving faster than most development programs. But UCAV's are already flying CAS missions and doing it very well. The only thing about CAS that hasn't changed dramatically in the last 10 years is why we do it. In a complete reversal from a few years ago, the most effective environment to execute a CAS mission is at night. The current state of our avionics and the equipment available in the air and on the ground makes CAS in the dark almost a no-brainer. In a brief summary...the forward air controller (on the ground or in the air) defines the coordinates of the target (using laser range finders and GPS these coordinates can be incredibly precise). He transmits those coordinates to the close air support platform (manned or unmanned). Whoever is flying the aircraft directs his infrared equipped targeting pod at those coordinates and verifies he sees what he is supposed to target. To confirm, he zaps it with an infrared laser beam and asks the controller if he is targeted correctly. Then, with approval to drop, he guides a laser guided bomb onto the target that almost guarantees a kill. We've come a long way...and in the process have greatly reduced the need for an actual person to be in the cockpit of the delivery aircraft. This isn't just theory. It is being performed in practice. And new technology is refining the practice on almost a daily basis. Already, we are able to beam imagery from the orbiting platform directly to the guys on the ground, giving them control of what is being looked at. Obviously, the next step is giving them control of dropping the ordnance.
Which takes us back to canceling this (X-45) program. The reason air to air refueling capability wasn't included in the initial specs was because it didn't seem realistic. But then, neither did a UCAV performing CAS. I suspect that much of the X-45 testing program has been overtaken by other programs. That has happened frequently throughout the history of various X-plane programs. You can be sure if we still had questions or strong interest in the capabilities being tested by the X-45's, the program would still be funded.
LBJ & Congress did a "guns & butter" policy during the Vietnam War years.
Bush & Congress are doing the same.
It was not sustainable, and the war spending/effort lost back then.
Imagine the Dem's are more fiscal & responsible now, at least enough to not oppose any Repub efforts to trim socialist programs?
I have to disagree strongly.
Take the ABM system. for example. Sure, we are testing various platforms and we have deployed a few token ABM interceptors, but relative to the China ICBM threat, to Russia's new advanced ICBMs, to N. Korea's missiles and to Iran gaining nuke capability and the probable owner of longer range missiles soon, you would think we would have a much more robust ABM program. Read the current QDR and little is said about the ABM system. We fund African charity at a higher level than the ABM system.
We have retired the Peacekeeper, sliced the Minuteman III force drastically, taken four boomers out of service, taking another chunk of B-52s out of service, . . . yet the threats today exceed the threats we faced when these forces were at their peak.
We no longer have a Tactical Air Command and we no longer have a Strategic Air Command and we no longer have MAC. For all the crap we hear about "streamlining" and such, one of the big negatives that came out of the reorganization of the USAF (along with the other branches) is that there are no longer fights for funding among the various divisions of each military branch after all these "reorganizations", and so the funding for the "new streamlined" version is less. The social welfare funding is soaring and the military funding continues to shrink--Defense "streamlining" has fattened the funding for social welfare.
There is a disconnect now between threats we face and deterrent we muster. Social welfare has dominated the budget so much that too little is left over to fund the military. John F. Kennedy was able to spend 46-48 cents of every dollar on Defense. We had massive R&D programs and procurement in the early 1960s, even before Vietnam. Today, with the threats GREATER than what JFK faced (from multiple sources--JFK only had the Ruskies to worry about), George Bush is only spending 17 cents of every dollar on Defense.
You are implying that a military program will be funded if it would result in new and better capability, and I am stating that regardless of the worth of a program, we are hard pressed to fund it because social welfare is sapping up too much of our total budget--we just can't afford the programs we need to defend our nation.
SOURCE for budget stats: OMB Historical Tables
We have reduced our strategic nuclear forces in part to comply with our obligations to various treaties, but also because we no longer need the capability to either counter a massive first strike by the Soviet Union, or overwhelm the defenses of a nation we plan on hitting first. It costs billions to keep those systems in a state of constant readiness that is no longer necessary in the scale it once was.
We no longer have a TAC, SAC and MAC, but that doesn't imply we lost the capability each of those commands represent. Instead, we dumped a lot of extra bureaucracy that did absolutely nothing to improve our combat capability or readiness.
"We had massive R&D programs and procurement in the early 1960s, even before Vietnam. Today, with the threats GREATER than what JFK faced (from multiple sources--JFK only had the Ruskies to worry about), George Bush is only spending 17 cents of every dollar on Defense."
Yet, with all of Kennedy's funding, we still couldn't gain the initiative in Vietnam. Obviously, there were many other factors involved there, but the point is, spending money does not equal a potent military. Iraq used to have the fourth largest military on the planet. Saddam starved his people to fund it. Look where it got them. The fact that George Bush is spending only 17 cents of every dollar on defense only highlights what we both agree on, and that is we are spending too much on social programs. But the fact that our military has accomplished historically unprecedented achievements in both Afghanistan and Iraq is proof that our military capabilities, planning and know how, are as good or better than they ever have been.
It's well known that it costs lots of time and lots of money to train a fighter pilot. It takes actual air combat to separate the aces from the skeet- and statistically, those are the only two divisions.
During WWII, both Japan and Germany had large numbers of first-line fighters at the close of the war. What they ran out of was skilled pilots.
Unmanned vehicles will allow us to fly extremely high-risk missions while protecting those expensive pilots from harm.
Also remember, a pilotless vehicle can pull a lot more Gs in a dogfight without danger of the pilot blacking out. And the weight of the pilot and his support systems can be replaced with extra fuel and weapons stores.
How come we can't find enough money to fund the Department of Defense, but every year we spend more money than we did the year before subsidizing bastardy?
1] Raw dollars for Defense are rising, so it gives the false impression the money we are spending on Defense is increasing. However, if you adjust it for inflation, we have had a huge decrease in funding for the DOD. The easiest way to look at inflation adjusted dollars is to NOT look at raw dollars on the budget, but look at the % of budget each department gets form the 100% total of total spending. That is what I based my earlier post on when I said JFK was spending 46-48% of total on Defense but Bush is psending only 16% of total spending on Defense.
2] Much of the Defense budget is geared around the war, replacement parts, logistics, pay, etc. related to the war, and a far less percent of the total DOD budget is going for R&D and procurement. In JFK's time, not only was the amount spent for the DOD far greater, but a larger % of that went to R&D and procurement. Same with Reagan.
I don't agree with you.
When I was instructing, it was very easy to determine who was going to be good and who wasn't. The kids coming into the RAG could all fly, and my job was to teach them to fly, fight and not run into the ground while trying to do the other two things.
What I fear we will get with drones are technicians instead of warriors. If some guy can sit with a cup of coffee while calling passing IP, I don't want him protecting my country. I don't want missions planned by some creep in Washington with a slide rule ever again, but that is what you will get when you take the human equation out of warfare.
It has to be dangerous and deadly so that those who practice it will remain at the top of their game. It is supposed to be high-risk, otherwise they would let anyone do it. That is what I am afraid of.
Thank you for the excellent paraphrase. The program I mentioned before has had something like $100M sunk in it, and it may need extensive redesign to fit into a fighter aircraft - and is likely to be too expensive to field even if it ever works (I believe it has had a 4-fold increase in unit price and more raises are likely).
Meanwhile, technology has progressed so that there are other options which might perform better, cost less - and be ready to field in 2 years on multiple aircraft. One of the intended using commands has pulled out, and the others may - not because of money, but because there are fundamental flaws that may be too extensive to fix. It may be literally time to go back to the drawing board!
My info is probably out of date. I had thought/read that a pilot has a very good chance of dying during their first few minutes of actual air combat. If they survive that, they stand a good chance of becoming an "ace." I'm probably thinking of WWI and WWII.
My basic point is, I'd rather we lose ten fighters than one pilot. We can replace machines.
Rather than "slide rule" types flying drone fighters, I'm picturing the top contenders in the annual "Drone Fighter" video game competition. Hardcore gamers will practice for eighteen hours a day or play for days at a time just for the sake of being "the best." Give 'em a catheter, Sobe energy drinks and M&Ms and they'll 'fly' 96 hour missions.