This is an topic for items relating to current military affairs: conflicts underway, strategy, technology, and policy implications.
Aviation Week reports:
A new operational concept within the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command proposes to use a horde of drones to turn the Taiwan Strait into a “hellscape” if China attempts to invade Taiwan.
To realize that vision, the Defense Department has created several new efforts to solve the industrial, bureaucratic and command-and-control issues posed by unleashing thousands of drones simultaneously into the air, water and land around the roughly 100-nm channel between mainland China and Taiwan.
Heeding lessons from the Russia–Ukraine war, the Army already plans to award a contract next spring for up to 12,000 small quadcopter drones under the Short-Range Reconnaissance (SRR) program. Meanwhile, efforts continue to field thousands of Air-Launched Effects (ALE) as part of the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft ecosystem of sensors and munitions. That ecosystem includes the tube-launched ALE-Small, which includes uncrewed aircraft systems (UAS) such as the Anduril Altius, and ALE-Large, a more secretive project that is known to involve at least UAS such as the L3Harris Technologies Red Wolf.
The Army programs would add to thousands of more drones of all sizes and performance levels in development or production across the U.S. military. In the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan of the last two decades, only dozens of uncrewed systems were in operation at any single time. In the decade ahead, thousands of drones could perform missions simultaneously. The transition is being informed by ongoing experiments such as the Navy’s Task Force 59 and the Air Force’s Task Force 99.
The drones that are equipped with the REMA software would have special abilities unavailable on standard commercial drones. If a control or communications link to the drone is lost, the REMA autonomy software would allow them to continue performing some aspects of their mission by making their own decisions. Software updates and upgrades could be developed, tested and released to all of the REMA adapter-equipped drones in monthly cycles.
This “hellscape” sure sounds like autonomous killer robots to me. On 2022-10-21, a Joint Statement on Lethal Autonomous Weapons Systems was delivered at the United Nations General Assembly.
The research and development of new technologies is progressing at a rapid pace. New and emerging technologies hold great promise for the advancement of human welfare and could help to better protect civilians in conflict in certain circumstances.
However, the introduction of new technological applications, such as those related to autonomy in weapon systems, also raise serious concerns from humanitarian, legal, security, technological and ethical perspectives. We therefore see an urgent need for the international community to further their understanding and address these risks and challenges by adopting appropriate rules and measures, such as principles, good practices, limitations and constraints.
Although it has proven difficult to translate progress made in the CCW’s [UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons] discussions into further concrete outcomes, the consideration of substantive proposals facilitated the development of shared understandings and convergence on key substantive issues. This included, in particular, the approach based on the prohibition of autonomous weapon systems that cannot be used in compliance with IHL [International Humanitarian Law], and the regulation of other types of autonomous weapon systems. States may have different understandings of terms like human judgement, control or involvement. However, there is also a recognition, shared by many, that the human element is and must remain central in the use of force.
Against this background, we emphasise the necessity for human beings to exert appropriate control, judgement and involvement in relation to the use of weapons systems in order to ensure any use is in compliance with International Law, in particular International Humanitarian Law, and that humans remain accountable for decisions on the use of force.
The joint statement was signed by 70 countries, including France, Germany, Japan, South Korea, the United Kingdom, and the U.S.
Warfare has always been about the competition between attack & defense. The stick was a great weapon, until someone invented the shield. Then came the battle axe.
Primitive communities could be overrun, and then came the wall. But the development of the cannon rendered walls & castles vulnerable. Battleships and aircraft – same story. As is tank and shoulder-launched missile.
If we read some of the less Zelensky-admiring reports from the Ukraine, Russia is already developing fairly effective responses to drones. Attack vs defense – the story continues.
Well, certainly measure vs counter-measure is the usual course. But counter-measure takes some time. And let’s not forget that stealth tech has not (yet) been applied to drones. When it is, it will be a significantly more difficult defensive proposition.
What is needed is some very rapid weapon to be able to lock onto a drone and fire against a maneuvering unit. Lasers come to mind, but no one has yet created a potent enough laser to make it reasonably portable and to attach it to some kind of targeting radar that, too, is fast and nimble.
These are not certainly insurmountable obstacles, but they are formidable from where we stand. Power supply is probably the Achilles Heel of Western systems like this; Russian would be more likely the actual laser tech. They would have to steal it from us.Other approaches are possible but not in evidence yet. The current man-carried laser-designator is nice - for a clandestine squad but has limitations when considered as a field use weapon. Whether the drones can be made small enough to avoid detection while still being able to guide themselves or be guided, remains to be seen - at least as a practical weapon.
Russia failed to take out the internet in Ukraine as the initial target because Putin’s KGB background didn’t prepare him for social network images of war attrocities that mobilize global swarms of mean pubescent girls of all sexes and ages (the end result of civilization replacing men as final family authority) without any central control. Israel didn’t make that mistake. But the Mossad paid a price for policies that kept Gaza from assimilation in The Borg’s Surveillance.
On the other hand, there is The Project for the New Israel Century (Pearl Harbor) Hypothesis…
That is a good point. But let’s also not forget that applying stealth technology to drones will likely increase their cost significantly (and thereby reduce their affordable numbers).
Apparently, the Russian defensive approach to drones has focused on confusing them electronically – challenging, but not necessarily too expensive. Speed of evolution will probably be a critical factor in real world attack vs defense for drones – something which does not play to any strength in the US Political Donations-Military-Industrial complex.
Weaponization of The Mean Girls Of All Sexes And Ages with social media images has always been an aspect of warfare but it has become more prominent as more of the global population, including erstwhile men, have been degraded into that mentality. This means that even if guys like Putin learn their lesson and catch up with the West’s weaponization of Mean Girls (witness Trump Derangement Syndrome as manifestation in the West’s nascent rhyme with The Thirty Years War) and thereby preemptively take out internet infrastructure prior to surgical attacks, synthetic images and even videos indistinguishable from live footage are now available with desktop GPU diffusion models.
This means it will become increasingly necessary to strategically take out the Mean Girl Infrastructure. That this hasn’t happened already is probably due to the fact that people confuse Mean Girls with individuals – and are overwhelmed by their sheer numbers – as opposed to components of a civil infrastructure that is far less resilient than a swarm of relatively autonomous insects.
Is it not interesting that right now drones are the thing. But drones are not a real, long-term solution except for possibly solid, immobile structures that can’t be hardened.
The inherent problem with drones is the same one that affected F-4 Phantoms - the ability to ID a legitimate target. Recollect that the original design of the F-4 was as a missile interceptor. The geniuses of the time even went so far as to predict that ACM was now passe and was thus no longer taught. So, going into air combat in RVN our fighter pilots suddenly found themselves in an environment where they could not launch their AA missiles with impunity because they didn’t know for sure the target was a hostile. Suddenly visual ID became important and the F-4 had no weapons for that kind of close “fur ball” encounter.
Much the same issue will exist with drones. If you remain in a static pose, you can be ID’d as a target, but the minute you mix it up, visual ID will be required - else you risk taking out your own assets. In Ukraine, it was the Russians who had the armor vehicles, so ID was easy. With the advent of Western MBT’s, it gets more complex. Modern combat theory requires rapid assault by small units under cover of artillery (optimally) with bypassing strong points or points of resistance for follow-up removal. This approach was developed by the Brits and used quite effectively in 1918 to clear German lines of defense, with far fewer casualties and more rapid advance than what was seen on the Somme. The Marine Corps has used this basic form of combat for a very long time also. (Who knows what the Corps is headed for after Berger.) This approach will produce the same ID issues American jet jocks faced over North Vietnam.
One last point. I have not seen any mention of air bursts to knock drones out of the sky. Pulse electronic waves might also be a consideration to disrupt their control/targeting ability.
Another U.S. Carrier Strike Group (CVN-69, Dwight D. Eisenhower) is headed for the Mediterranean.
IMDB claims 6 ft. tall. Mohammad Bin Salman - IMDb
Looks like a chairback tilted forward behind MBS. Guy on left standing on floor, MBS leaning forward without really fully standing, on a dais?
Are there two emirs in the cover photo from the second video?
A. Blinken is allegedly 5’ 8" tall. MBS only 4" taller according to the Internet, must be a weird wide angle lens artefact. Over time, I’ve come to realize that there’s a lot of power play at work in many of these settings.
But it was the Emir of Qatar, not MBS. The former is listed as 6’3" and is speculated as 6’5" due to his apparent advantage over Trump. 6’5" means up to a 9" advantage.
My bad - makes a lot more sense then.
Israeli guided mortar round:
US, RU, CN also have: