The Post-pandemic Canadian Armed Forces

Weinie

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Coincidentally, we did some work for a client estimating what it would take to implement ACATS (Advance Connectivity and Automation in the Transportation System).

One or two issues: it would cost billions to re-engineer our infrastructure (there's a reason Elon wants to dig a tunnel under LA - it's cheaper and faster), and oh, it's still illegal :)

20 years from now? Might be a thing....
20 years from now Skynet might be a thing..................
 

daftandbarmy

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20 years from now Skynet might be a thing..................

Animated GIF
 

FSTO

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All this autonomous military tech is fantastic, but does that not also involve a secure communications capability with massive amounts of BB and NB capacity?
I'm just a rube when it comes to all this tech, but in my red cell mind how are all these whiz bang gadgets going to work in the emcon denied environment?
 

dimsum

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All this autonomous military tech is fantastic, but does that not also involve a secure communications capability with massive amounts of BB and NB capacity?
I'm just a rube when it comes to all this tech, but in my red cell mind how are all these whiz bang gadgets going to work in the emcon denied environment?
Yes it does. That's an aspect that I find people don't really talk about until you dig into it. All of those need a 2-way comms capability. If it's working past line of sight, then it has to be satellite-based or using repeating towers, which adds infrastructure and associated cost.

Not only that, depending on where you're looking to use it (e.g in the poles past 65N/S), you start getting into issues with some of the "standard" comms satellite constellations like GPS.
 

Loachman

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"it has to be satellite-based or using repeating towers, which adds infrastructure and associated cost" - and delay.

As far as I know, only two of us on this fine Site have any real experience with UAVs - my quoted comrade being the other - and there are many obstacles in the way of unmanned combat systems.

The delay between transmission and reception of satellite-routed signals is minor for simple communications, but critical when trying to direct machines involved in manoeuvering combat or dropping/launching on moving ground targets (USAF and RAF Predators and Reapers were operated locally for that reason), plus there is a huge lack of situational awareness when sitting in a ground control station compared to a cockpit.

As a Pilot, I relied on such things as peripheral vision, sound of my engine and transmission, and sensations of motion and vibration. As a CU161 Sperwer Mission Commander, I had none of those. We often only realized that we'd flown into a thunderstorm when either the thermal imager blanked out or the altimeter showed an almost-instantaneous drop of eight hundred feet or so, or both.

I lost three AVs in rapid succession during my tour in late-September 2008 to end-April 2009, one for a parachute failure during the recovery phase, one for an "AV close to stall speed" indication which turned out to be caused by a failure in one of two engine cylinders that was not obvious combined with the machine's automatic adoption of a climb attitude in its attempt to maintain altitude, and one for an engine-out indication which turned out to be nothing more than a fault of the RPM indicator system.

We almost lost another when the AV symbol on the moving-map display froze one night. We could still see with the thermal imager, but had no idea where we were as we did not know how long it had been since the problem occurred and when we noticed it. We were finally able to recognize Kandahar City and thus blunder our way back to Kandahar Airfield, but fine navigation was impossible - we actually inadvertently crossed the runway while setting up for one of many recovery attempts. Fortunately, this was late at night and there was no traffic around. We could not judge altitude, so relied on relayed information from ATC and altitude thus fluctuated wildly from several hundred feet below to several hundred feet above the specified recovery altitude. My PO (Payload Operator) could only look either ahead or down, but not both due to the narrowness of the thermal imager's field-of-view. That made it almost impossible to judge our proximity to the rather small recovery area, or even to line up on it. None of us had trained for a manual recovery. There was no means to do so, and it wasn't considered to be doable (recovery was by parachute, and the machine calculated wind drift effect to place itself in the correct position autonomously). When my AVO figured that we were in the best possible (or least-worst possible) position, he triggered the recovery process. We actually came down on the boundary between the recovery site and the uncleared minefield adjacent to it. Our relief was tremendous, and success was entirely due to the phenomenal co-ordination between my AVO and PO. While we, ourselves, were in no danger, there was a very real fear factor throughout

I read, much later (but still several years ago), a collection of UAV crews' disorientation experiences, including a Predator or Reaper that had somehow become inverted without the Pilot realizing it - he couldn't figure out why it was turning in the opposite direction to his control inputs. Many of those incidents resulted in loss of the machine, and I could well understand the problems and confusion that those guys had. I cannot find it online now, but it may have been a paper article. I did find the following four articles, which contain snippets of relevant information:



https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/29/drones-us-military (I do not agree with all of the statements in this article)

https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a543186.pdf (I've only skimmed this so far but will read in more detail later; I know Linda Bossi fairly well, and have enormous respect for her).

The Sperwer only had a thirteen-foot wingspan and was powered by a Rotax snowmobile engine, but we were told that it cost more per flying hour to operate than any other aircraft in the entire CF. It had a high loss rate (we were concerned that the Roto before us would not leave us any serviceable AVs by the time that they were finished) and, between the AVs, the Ground Control Stations (GCSs), Ground Data Terminals (GDTs), and other components, was a maintenance nightmare. There was an incredible number of minor/trivial malfunctions that could delay or scrub a mission or cause an AV loss.

Now, yes, this was ancient (and French) technology, but many of the same factors still exist, and will for several years to come.

AND DON'T CALL THEM "DR***S".

Please
 

CBH99

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Loachman! Haven't seen you here in ages mate, good to see your name pop up again :)
 

HiTechComms

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How about we make it that before any military deployment we put Politicians in a Fancy dome cage on giant suspenders and give them rusty sporks and make them fight each other first.
 

Humphrey Bogart

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The idea of the CAF replacing manned fighters with Autonomous Aircraft in the near future is laughable.

Autonomous systems of the type we are discussing are more expensive than a manned aircraft because they require extensive Comms and C2 Infrastructure.

We don't have the institutional or technical know how to even manage those programs let alone the ability to adequately fund them.

We are currently equipped with Ships and Aircraft that are using 1970s/1980s technology and have been attriting capability year over year for the past few decades.

Autonomous Systems will be reserved for serious Military players. They are at the top of the Spectrum of Military Capabilities and are not for a Military like ours.
 

GR66

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The idea of the CAF replacing manned fighters with Autonomous Aircraft in the near future is laughable.

Autonomous systems of the type we are discussing are more expensive than a manned aircraft because they require extensive Comms and C2 Infrastructure.

We don't have the institutional or technical know how to even manage those programs let alone the ability to adequately fund them.

We are currently equipped with Ships and Aircraft that are using 1970s/1980s technology and have been attriting capability year over year for the past few decades.

Autonomous Systems will be reserved for serious Military players. They are at the top of the Spectrum of Military Capabilities and are not for a Military like ours.
I was one of the people that initially brought up the Loyal Wingman concept as something perhaps for the RCAF to consider.

In response to the above comment let me again clarify my original question to be discussed.

Would it be worthwhile for Canada to consider looking at reducing it's new fighter purchase (preferably the F-35 in my opinion) from the planned 88 fighters to the originally stated 65 fighters and use the savings from the 33 extra fighters to invest in 65 x Loyal Wingman type UCAVs instead.

The idea being that 88 combat aircraft isn't enough for a country the size of Canada while having a split fleet of manned/unmanned aircraft we could get back to a fleet of 130 aircraft.

I never suggested REPLACING manned fighters and only using UCAVs. Simply consider if a mixed manned/unmanned fleet might have advantages for a country of our size with a limited budget.

The key things to note about the Boeing Loyal Wingman project are that:
a) They are semi-autonomous and are controlled from the partner aircraft NOT by remote comms stations or satellites. No additional C2 structure would be required.
b) Boeing says the target cost of the Loyal Wingman is $2million USD each. I'm assuming of course that this is promotional BS, but even at a unit cost of 10-15 times this amount ($20-30 million each) it is still considerably cheaper than a manned fighter.
c) Boeing also says they are expecting to have the program in full-scale production by mid-decade or possibly even sooner.

Again I'd agree with those that say that UCAVs can't replace manned fighters and that they're not ready for combat TODAY. But come the late 2020s to 2030 when we'll likely see our 65th CF-18 replacement fighter coming into service might not a Loyal Wingman-type UCAV not be a viable, cheap way to expand our combat airpower? If that's the case then wouldn't it be wise to start looking into these options today (like the Aussies, Brits and Americans already are) so that we're not behind the technological curve?
 

SeaKingTacco

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I think something like loyal wingman has more merit than alot of other RPAS applications. Because the are controlled, line of sight from another human occupied aircraft, most of the latency and C2 infrastructure problems go away.

The thought that we are somehow going to send RPAS to do an intercept North of Inuvik with today’s technology is...optimist at best.
 

Loachman

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Autonomous Systems will be reserved for serious Military players. They are at the top of the Spectrum of Military Capabilities and are not for a Military like ours.
I doubt that there's be much public support for lethal autonomous systems.

I certainly don't support the idea.
 

Eye In The Sky

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Well, the near future is certain, for some people who will have their postings cut this year. Anywhere from 30 to 50% slashes to cost moves this APS. Thankfully, we've given lots of money away for stupid shit so...those members and families will be nothing but grateful.

Next "bad news" for CAF members and families - pay freeze at 2017 rates. I'm sure some people will match their GAFF accordingly.
 
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Messerschmitt

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Well, the near future is certain, for some people who will have their postings cut this year. Anywhere from 30 to 50% slashes to cost moves this APS. Thankfully, we've given lots of money away for stupid shit so...those members and families will be nothing but grateful.

Next "bad news" for CAF members and families - pay freeze at 2017 rates. I'm sure some people will match their GAFF accordingly.
According to gossip, new pilot pay is still being implemented and currently sitting with TBS for signature and TB for approval by April 2021.
 

CBH99

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Well, the near future is certain, for some people who will have their postings cut this year. Anywhere from 30 to 50% slashes to cost moves this APS. Thankfully, we've given lots of money away for stupid shit so...those members and families will be nothing but grateful.

Next "bad news" for CAF members and families - pay freeze at 2017 rates. I'm sure some people will match their GAFF accordingly.
Do you mean members took a slight pay cut, from 2020 rates to 2017 rates?
 

PuckChaser

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Well, the near future is certain, for some people who will have their postings cut this year. Anywhere from 30 to 50% slashes to cost moves this APS. Thankfully, we've given lots of money away for stupid shit so...those members and families will be nothing but grateful.

Next "bad news" for CAF members and families - pay freeze at 2017 rates. I'm sure some people will match their GAFF accordingly.
Considering we've lost approx 7% to inflation since 2017, that'll be the nail in the coffin for most folks. Back to the 90s with Ptes at food banks?
 
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