Skip to comments.Pentagon battle breaks out over a spy plane
Posted on 03/21/2008 10:19:29 AM PDT by Ernest_at_the_Beach
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 ...
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.
General Atomics Bump!
So lets buy some more.
Where do we find such men?
Train Army & Marine crews. They’ll do the job without crying about the workload.
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.
Trainers will turn out more pilots for Predators next year than for all other Air Force fighter planes combined.
Obviously softer Ascots are needed in Nevada. Tough duty???
Remember the Nena song 99 Luftballoons?
“Keine Doesenflieger mehr”
(We are out of pilots!)
The Air Force upper brass is seeing the tactical air future - and it doesn’t have pilots!
You said: Where do we find such men?
um...the Air Force?
“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.
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.
In four years, the same nimrods opposing the program will be publicly endorsing one or more of the Demwit candidates for President. Thanks Ernest.
It’s times like this that we need Rummy around to kick some top brass butt!
The Air Force also it still insisting on using officers for this.
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.
Somehow sitting in a trailer and flying something half-way around the world just doesn't steam my bean.
Command slot and ego bump at Air Force who want airframes back??
everybody knows the air farce is not the real military.................navair baby
>>Train Army & Marine crews. Theyll 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.
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.
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”.
There’s already a heavy version of the Predator called the Reaper. No need to up-armor the Predator.
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.
Civvies flew Predators for many years for one of the alphabet agencies.
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.
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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
I have to be honest, I would soooo love to paint some asshat in the weeds and watch a MK84 make him a martyr.....
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.
What HTML tag did you use to create that box?
Sounds good to me and I vote we give them a chance.
They are complete idiots for this.
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.
“All Predators to the ME”, per SECDEF, ping.
What about other UAV platforms? Any word on new, forward, deployments of them?
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.