Feeds

US killer robo-plane makes strike without remote pilot

Automated killware now handled by sergeants

Intelligent flash storage arrays

A US killer drone has carried out a lethal strike from the skies above Iraq, for the first time remotely controlled entirely by non-aircrew-rated, enlisted soldiers. The milestone would seem to foreshadow redundancy for large communities of military pilots in coming years.

Corporate art of an armed Warrior-Alpha

We don't need no stinkin' pilots.

According to a release from Multinational Division North, flagged up by the Danger Room blog at Wired magazine, a US Army Warrior-Alpha delivered the strike in support of American and Iraqi troops on the ground. The Warrior-Alpha, a highly automated version of the famous Predator drone, was controlled by Staff Sergeant Jerry Rhoades, Corporal Phillip Cheng and Specialist James Pegg.

According to Rhoades:

“We neutralized both targets – [the ground forces] were satisfied... This was the first time the Warrior Alpha System engaged a target in combat.”

There have been many lethal strikes by US and British Predator and Reaper drones already, but these aircraft are controlled at all times by a fully-qualified officer pilot with flight experience in normal manned aircraft.

Although American pilots hate drone-driving duty, generally having to be ordered into it against their will, they are also very uncomfortable with the idea of mere enlisted tech specialists handling what are to all intents and purposes close air support missions using strike aircraft. This tends to call much of their raison d'etre into question.

But the latest news from Diyala Province would seem to confirm that nowadays there is no real requirement for pilots in ordinary air support roles, whether in the aircraft or in the ground control centre. Nobody would be happy without people in the loop, but there seems no real reason for these people to be expensive, privileged officers with millions of pounds' worth of flight time.

Corporals and sergeants - who, after all, are already trusted to direct very significant firepower in the ground forces - would seem to be more than capable of the decision making. As for the flying, the Warrior-Alpha can do that itself, including unassisted takeoffs and landings. ®

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk

More from The Register

next story
SECRET U.S. 'SPACE WARPLANE' set to return from SPY MISSION
Robot minishuttle X-37B returns after almost 2 years in orbit
LOHAN crash lands on CNN
Overflies Die Welt en route to lively US news vid
You can crunch it all you like, but the answer is NOT always in the data
Hear that, 'data journalists'? Our analytics prof holds forth
MARS NEEDS WOMEN, claims NASA lady: They eat less
'Some might find this idea offensive' boffin admits
Experts brand LOHAN's squeaky-clean box
Phytosanitary treatment renders Vulture 2 crate fit for export
No sail: NASA spikes Sunjammer
'Solar sail' demonstrator project binned
Carry On Cosmonaut: Willful Child is a poor taste Star Trek parody
Cringeworthy, crude and crass jokes abound in Steven Erikson’s sci-fi debut
Origins of SEXUAL INTERCOURSE fished out of SCOTTISH LAKE
Fossil find proves it first happened 385 million years ago
prev story

Whitepapers

Forging a new future with identity relationship management
Learn about ForgeRock's next generation IRM platform and how it is designed to empower CEOS's and enterprises to engage with consumers.
Cloud and hybrid-cloud data protection for VMware
Learn how quick and easy it is to configure backups and perform restores for VMware environments.
Three 1TB solid state scorchers up for grabs
Big SSDs can be expensive but think big and think free because you could be the lucky winner of one of three 1TB Samsung SSD 840 EVO drives that we’re giving away worth over £300 apiece.
Reg Reader Research: SaaS based Email and Office Productivity Tools
Read this Reg reader report which provides advice and guidance for SMBs towards the use of SaaS based email and Office productivity tools.
Security for virtualized datacentres
Legacy security solutions are inefficient due to the architectural differences between physical and virtual environments.