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Pentagon battle breaks out over a spy plane
Los Angeles Times ^ | March 21, 2008 | Peter Spiegel, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer

Posted on 03/21/2008 10:19:29 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach

Defense Secretary Gates wants more unmanned Predator aircraft in Iraq. But the Air Force worries about the long-term viability of the spy plane program.

WASHINGTON -- Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates has ordered the Air Force to put nearly all of its unmanned Predator aircraft into the skies over the Middle East, forcing the service to take steps that officers worry could hobble already-stressed drone squadrons.

Pressure from the Defense secretary in recent months has nearly doubled the number of Predators available to help hunt insurgents and find roadside bombs in Iraq. But it has forced air commanders into a scramble for crews that officers said could hurt morale and harm the long-term viability of the Predator program.

Some officers said pressure from Gates resulted in one plan that could have taken the Air Force down a path similar to the German Luftwaffe, which cut back training in World War II to get more pilots in the air.


"That was the end of their air force," said Col. Chris Chambliss, commander of the Air Force's Predator wing. The Air Force plan, presented to the military leadership in January, eventually was scaled back.

The surge in drone flights is Gates' latest push for short-term measures to win the Iraq war that will have long-term implications for the U.S. military. In recent months, Gates has campaigned to increase the size of the Army and to ship new, heavily armored troop transporters, known as MRAPs, to Iraq.

Because of the far-reaching implications of the Predator debate, a fight has broken out between the Army and the Air Force over control of one of the most heralded technological successes of the war.

(Excerpt) Read more at latimes.com ...


TOPICS: Extended News; Foreign Affairs; Government; War on Terror
KEYWORDS: drones; miltech; predator
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1 posted on 03/21/2008 10:19:30 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
Some officers said pressure from Gates resulted in one plan that could have taken the Air Force down a path similar to the German Luftwaffe, which cut back training in World War II to get more pilots in the air. "That was the end of their air force," said Col. Chris Chambliss

That seems over-stated. The problem for the Germans was that inexperienced pilots were sent up too early, and got shot down by the RAF. German pilots didn't live long enough to gain the skills that ought to have been passed on to the next group of young pilots.

Planes can be replaced far more easily than pilots. The Germans sacrificed their pilots.

You really can't get yourself into the same sort of fix witht he Predators.

2 posted on 03/21/2008 10:26:14 AM PDT by ClearCase_guy
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To: NormsRevenge; elhombrelibre; Allegra; SandRat; tobyhill; G8 Diplomat; Dog; Cap Huff; ...

fyi


3 posted on 03/21/2008 10:27:13 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (No Burkas for my Grandaughters!)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

General Atomics Bump!


4 posted on 03/21/2008 10:29:17 AM PDT by heywoodubuzzoff (:-))
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

So lets buy some more.

Solved.


5 posted on 03/21/2008 10:29:50 AM PDT by Ramius (Personally, I give us... one chance in three. More tea?)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
Ok, easy solution. Turn the program over to the Army and Marines.
6 posted on 03/21/2008 10:30:44 AM PDT by taxcontrol
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
I can just imagine how stressful it is getting up in the morning in Las Vegas, driving all the way to Nellis or Indian Springs and settling-in for that several hour Predator flight.

Where do we find such men?

7 posted on 03/21/2008 10:30:49 AM PDT by paddles
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

Train Army & Marine crews. They’ll do the job without crying about the workload.


8 posted on 03/21/2008 10:32:03 AM PDT by csvset
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To: ClearCase_guy

Hard to get hurt when driving a drone from an air-conditioned shelter just outside of Las Vegas.

I can imagine that looking at a monitor for 12+ hours looking for Hajiis in the bush can strain the old eyeballs tho...

Shame they can’t multicast over the web so many eyes can look as well....it would be the ultimate video game to some.


9 posted on 03/21/2008 10:32:54 AM PDT by ASOC (I know I don't look like much, but I raised a US Marine!)
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To: ClearCase_guy
I think the Air Force sees bad things ahead....from the article:

Trainers will turn out more pilots for Predators next year than for all other Air Force fighter planes combined.

10 posted on 03/21/2008 10:36:30 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach (No Burkas for my Grandaughters!)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

Obviously softer Ascots are needed in Nevada. Tough duty???


11 posted on 03/21/2008 10:39:24 AM PDT by mortal19440
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To: ClearCase_guy

Remember the Nena song 99 Luftballoons?

“Keine Doesenflieger mehr”

(We are out of pilots!)


12 posted on 03/21/2008 10:39:42 AM PDT by patton (cuiquam in sua arte credendum)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

The Air Force upper brass is seeing the tactical air future - and it doesn’t have pilots!


13 posted on 03/21/2008 10:41:09 AM PDT by WarEagle (Can America survive a President named Hussein?)
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To: paddles

You said: Where do we find such men?

um...the Air Force?


14 posted on 03/21/2008 10:46:29 AM PDT by big'ol_freeper ("...millions hate what they mistakenly think that the Catholic Church is." ~ Archbishop Fulton Sheen)
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To: ClearCase_guy

Good morning.
“German pilots didn’t live long enough to gain the skills that ought to have been passed on to the next group of young pilots.”

Yet three of the five highest scoring aces in history were Luftwaffe pilots who survived the war.

Michael Frazier


15 posted on 03/21/2008 10:49:24 AM PDT by brazzaville (No surrender, no retreat. Well, maybe retreat's ok)
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To: paddles

I fly large R/C planes and would love the chance to fly one of the drones. I’d fly for free! I wished they had these drones when I was in the Navy back in the 80’s.


16 posted on 03/21/2008 10:51:03 AM PDT by dis.kevin
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach; AdmSmith; Berosus; Convert from ECUSA; dervish; Fred Nerks; george76; ...

In four years, the same nimrods opposing the program will be publicly endorsing one or more of the Demwit candidates for President. Thanks Ernest.


17 posted on 03/21/2008 10:52:12 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/______________________Profile updated Saturday, March 1, 2008)
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach
Since a lot of the Air Force is top heavy with Fighter Jocks I see it more as the brass being threatened. They know the writing is on the wall for manned fighter aircraft and with it, their monopoly on power they held for 60 years. Think of it like in the 30's when calvary was forced to give over to the tank


18 posted on 03/21/2008 10:52:44 AM PDT by McCloud-Strife (McCain-You maniac, you blew it up, damn you to hell.)
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To: ClearCase_guy
...and, of course, the Los Angeles Times fails to suggest just who it might be that would be engaging these drones in dog fights and how the lives of the drone pilots could possibly be endangered.
19 posted on 03/21/2008 10:53:24 AM PDT by Mr. Lucky
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To: McCloud-Strife

Bingo!

It’s times like this that we need Rummy around to kick some top brass butt!


20 posted on 03/21/2008 10:59:09 AM PDT by BigBobber
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

The Air Force also it still insisting on using officers for this.


21 posted on 03/21/2008 11:03:53 AM PDT by Wiseghy ("You want to break this army? Then break your word to it.")
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To: Ernest_at_the_Beach

The Air Force is not getting much love from the Freepers on this and deservedly so. I’d like to see them take their Powerpoint presentation to some remote FOB in Diyala Province and pitch it to the steely eyed killers that have been fighting this war for the past five years. The Air Force needs to man up and get the job done and quit running to the Congress every five minutes whining that things are just too tough for them.


22 posted on 03/21/2008 11:06:22 AM PDT by centurion316 (Democrats - Supporting Al Qaida Worldwide)
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To: dis.kevin
I'm a Hornet guy. If I'm lucky I'll get one more flying tour before it's time to step over the side.

Somehow sitting in a trailer and flying something half-way around the world just doesn't steam my bean.

23 posted on 03/21/2008 11:11:00 AM PDT by paddles
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To: heywoodubuzzoff

Command slot and ego bump at Air Force who want airframes back??


24 posted on 03/21/2008 11:24:05 AM PDT by colonialhk (Harry and Nancy are our best moron allies)
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To: colonialhk

everybody knows the air farce is not the real military.................navair baby


25 posted on 03/21/2008 11:27:53 AM PDT by joe fonebone (Screw McPain....J. Fred Muggs for POTUS)
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To: csvset

>>Train Army & Marine crews. They’ll do the job without crying about the workload.

And the Marines will cumshaw (i.e., requisition) enough parts and fuel to keep them running 24/7 until 2012. Then they’ll cannibalize the drones out of action to keep the rest flying.

Oh, and they’ll figure out how to put a JDAM aboard.


26 posted on 03/21/2008 11:28:51 AM PDT by NTHockey (Rules of engagement #1 - Take no prisoners))
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To: paddles

God Bless you. I thought you might have a connection to Navair with the screen-name paddles. I was an AO in an A-6 squadron. The Naval Officers I worked for and with were the finest men I have ever met, and I’m certain you are the same. Thank you for your service.


27 posted on 03/21/2008 11:29:08 AM PDT by dis.kevin
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To: Wiseghy

I had forgotten that the AF also insists on using only those trained and qualified in real (jet?) aircraft first. That is a years long process. There is no way they can ramp up very fast with this requirement. Maybe they get better results with this, with fewer accidents, but I have heard no data on this. I strongly suspect the AF would be telling us this if they had such data.

My understanding is the Army has had good results using Warrant Officers, just as they do in helicopters. This would be a major culture change for the AF, but they’ve gotta do something to meet the need. This is really not “business as usual”.


28 posted on 03/21/2008 11:33:18 AM PDT by Wiseghy ("You want to break this army? Then break your word to it.")
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To: NTHockey

There’s already a heavy version of the Predator called the Reaper. No need to up-armor the Predator.


29 posted on 03/21/2008 11:35:38 AM PDT by SJSAMPLE
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To: csvset

Train Army & Marine crews.
They’ll do the job without crying about the workload!


30 posted on 03/21/2008 11:36:30 AM PDT by B-Cause (Opportunity knocks on your door every day -- answer it!)
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To: ASOC
That's a bloody good idea. You should, or we could, as a group at our local levels, float that one up to the Air Force.

I'd love to have done that when I was in, would have done it in my off-duty time, too.

The idea of getting one bad-guy or preventing one IED from getting the good guys would have been enough motivation

Woudn't even have to be officers at that point...new use for photo ops.

31 posted on 03/21/2008 11:36:41 AM PDT by IYAS9YAS
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To: Wiseghy

Civvies flew Predators for many years for one of the alphabet agencies.


32 posted on 03/21/2008 11:37:50 AM PDT by mad_as_he$$ (John McCain - The Manchurian Candidate? http://www.usvetdsp.com/manchuan.htm)
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To: brazzaville
"Yet three of the five highest scoring aces in history were Luftwaffe pilots who survived the war."

Three extremely skilled exceptions to the overall trend which was that Luftwaffe pilots were getting slaughtered until there were very few left to take to the air.
33 posted on 03/21/2008 11:40:49 AM PDT by Enchante (Obama: You think Hillary's Ruthless? Hell, I'll Run Over My Own Grandmother to Get Elected!!)
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To: McCloud-Strife
Well, cavalry to tanks was more of an evolution. The cavalry was still there, and still mounted by men, it was just mechanized and armored.

And I can think of at least one old horse soldier who embraced the tank and did quite well with them: Gen. George S. Patton.

Now manned aircraft to unmanned drones; piloted by geeks in trailers watching a video screen with joystick in hand; that's a bit tougher to swallow for the men who spent their whole careers turning and burning.

Manned and unmanned both have their places. I can't see unmanned totally replacing manned. Eventually the enemies will learn to jam signals or insert their own command stream into the instructions for the drone.

Nothing electronic is totally hack proof these days.

34 posted on 03/21/2008 11:40:49 AM PDT by AFreeBird
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To: mad_as_he$$
There's no reason a civilian couldn't do it for the military either, or, if nothing else, monitor multiple screens looking for baddies. I had a security clearance when I was in that, though many years old, could be easily updated.

The training could be simplified. You'd train on video simulators until you were proficient...then on the real deal. If you had to fire, a com-link from you to the one in charge, or you could have a WSO take over for you, if they were concerned over that. Satellite link could easily keep you in coms with the ground pounders.

35 posted on 03/21/2008 11:43:12 AM PDT by IYAS9YAS
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To: dis.kevin
Thanks. Marine Corps. Was an LSO as well on CV-43...hence "paddles."

My grandfather was a 35 yr Navy man. 30 years enlisted as an Gunner's Mate/AO (on the original Sara) and then 5 as an "O" in WWII.

AO's are the best! Have a great weekend, shipmate!

36 posted on 03/21/2008 11:44:52 AM PDT by paddles
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To: ClearCase_guy
You really can't get yourself into the same sort of fix with the Predators.

You are right, but it's better than that. This approach is normally called on-the-job training, and in this case, there's no better training to be had. It should be more cost effective than firing live rounds at dummy targets.

37 posted on 03/21/2008 11:46:44 AM PDT by slowhandluke (It's hard work to be cynical enough in this age)
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To: IYAS9YAS
There's no reason a civilian couldn't do it for the military either, or, if nothing else, monitor multiple screens looking for baddies.

You could go back to big crews like the old WW2 bombers had. There is a problem with too much information coming at the pilot or even pilot and weapons officer at once which wouldn't be so much of a with bigger crews for a UAV. You wouldn't be limited by aerodynamics on how many people you can cram into a certain size of airframe. You could even specialize with expert pilots handling takeoffs and landings with control switched to average pilots for patrolling.

38 posted on 03/21/2008 12:06:41 PM PDT by KarlInOhio (Rattenschadenfreude: joy at a Democrat's pain, especially Hillary's pain caused by Obama.)
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To: KarlInOhio

I agree fully. A bank of folks looking at a bunch of monitors would certainly be better than one set of eyes. There is still no doubt we’d need the full-sized aircraft for missions, but this certainly could help fill gaps.


39 posted on 03/21/2008 12:09:57 PM PDT by IYAS9YAS
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To: AFreeBird
I can't see unmanned totally replacing manned. Eventually the enemies will learn to jam signals or insert their own command stream into the instructions for the drone.

I don't think the Air Force will give up on manned combat planes until they come up against unmanned Chinese fighters capable of 15 or 20-G turns that would turn a pilot into pulp or even a sustained 8-G turn that would cause a pilot to black out. The areodynamics of a modern fighter exceed the capabilities of any pilot.

40 posted on 03/21/2008 12:10:53 PM PDT by KarlInOhio (Rattenschadenfreude: joy at a Democrat's pain, especially Hillary's pain caused by Obama.)
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To: centurion316

Please, don’t go there.

The USAF has folks working as convoy guards driving the shitty srteet of both the ‘Stan and in the sandbox.

You’ll also notice a lot of USAF stripes working with the ARMY SOF as Forward Air COntroller/ETACs calling in CAS.

Maybe not as many, but sure as hell as often.....

I work with these guys daily, tough as nails and just as mean as any Grunt....even if they are POGs.


41 posted on 03/21/2008 12:11:13 PM PDT by ASOC (I know I don't look like much, but I raised a US Marine!)
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To: IYAS9YAS
LOL
the security issues doom it from the beginning - it would have to be, at least, us Old Dogs.

I have to be honest, I would soooo love to paint some asshat in the weeds and watch a MK84 make him a martyr.....

42 posted on 03/21/2008 12:15:04 PM PDT by ASOC (I know I don't look like much, but I raised a US Marine!)
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To: KarlInOhio
I don't think the Air Force will give up on manned combat planes until they come up against unmanned Chinese fighters capable of 15 or 20-G turns that would turn a pilot into pulp or even a sustained 8-G turn that would cause a pilot to black out.

You don't think the USAF is working on countermeasures to unmanned fighters, such as those I suggested? I'd be surprised, not to mention disappointed, if they weren't.

43 posted on 03/21/2008 12:19:43 PM PDT by AFreeBird
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To: B-Cause

What HTML tag did you use to create that box?


44 posted on 03/21/2008 12:21:02 PM PDT by indcons (Please FREEPMAIL indcons if you want on or off the "Military History (MilHist)" ping list.)
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To: NTHockey

Sounds good to me and I vote we give them a chance.


45 posted on 03/21/2008 12:21:10 PM PDT by mcshot (Missing my cavernous grade school desk which protected from nuclear blasts.)
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To: Wiseghy
The Air Force also it still insisting on using officers for this.

They are complete idiots for this.

46 posted on 03/21/2008 12:35:11 PM PDT by Centurion2000 (su - | echo "All your " | chown -740 us ./base | kill -9 | cd / | rm -r | echo "belong to us")
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To: B-Cause
What we don't want, gentlemen,
Is a Predator Pilot Gap!


47 posted on 03/21/2008 12:37:05 PM PDT by csvset
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To: NTHockey
Oh, and they’ll figure out how to put a JDAM aboard.

Put a JDAM aboard and load an FAE warhead at the nosecone of the Predator. That way if there is battle damage to the drone the pilot will be able to kamikaze it and get one last little F-U at the enemy before the UAV is lost.

48 posted on 03/21/2008 12:38:30 PM PDT by Centurion2000 (su - | echo "All your " | chown -740 us ./base | kill -9 | cd / | rm -r | echo "belong to us")
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To: jhpigott; Dog; AdmSmith; TexKat; Coop; jeffers; nuconvert; Arizona Carolyn; BurbankKarl; SE Mom; ...

“All Predators to the ME”, per SECDEF, ping.

What about other UAV platforms? Any word on new, forward, deployments of them?


49 posted on 03/21/2008 12:41:37 PM PDT by jeffers
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To: Enchante
Good afternoon.

WW2 Luftwaffe fighter pilots often flew more than five missions a day, for the entire war. They were outnumbered for most of the war and fighting opponents who flew aircraft that were superior after the first years yet there were 15 who scored more than 200 victories and 92 with more than 100. That with a high command that never really understood how to use them.

By the end, if a pilot could get a plane off the ground he was launched at the waves of bombers and their escorts, and, as you say, they were getting slaughtered. Allied fighters would loiter over the Luftwaffe airbases and jump the survivors of the air battle when they tried to land.

It's astounding to me that any German pilots survived. It's an amazing story.

Before the war, many Germans learned to fly in gliders. Today, our video gaming industry is preparing new operators for us to train to fly Raptors and Predators and death in combat is much less likely. Sounds good to me.

Michael Frazier

50 posted on 03/21/2008 12:42:55 PM PDT by brazzaville (No surrender, no retreat. Well, maybe retreat's ok)
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