Feeds

US killer robo-plane makes strike without remote pilot

Automated killware now handled by sergeants

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops

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. ®

Internet Security Threat Report 2014

More from The Register

next story
Antarctic ice THICKER than first feared – penguin-bot boffins
Robo-sub scans freezing waters, rocks warming models
I'll be back (and forward): Hollywood's time travel tribulations
Quick, call the Time Cops to sort out this paradox!
Your PHONE is slowly KILLING YOU
Doctors find new Digitillnesses - 'text neck' and 'telepressure'
Reuse the Force, Luke: SpaceX's Elon Musk reveals X-WING designs
And a floating carrier for recyclable rockets
NASA launches new climate model at SC14
75 days of supercomputing later ...
Britain's HUMAN DNA-strewing Moon mission rakes in £200k
3 days, and Kickstarter moves lander 37% nearer takeoff
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing and building an open ITOA architecture
Learn about a new IT data taxonomy defined by the four data sources of IT visibility: wire, machine, agent, and synthetic data sets.
10 threats to successful enterprise endpoint backup
10 threats to a successful backup including issues with BYOD, slow backups and ineffective security.
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.
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.
Managing SSL certificates with ease
The lack of operational efficiencies and compliance pitfalls associated with poor SSL certificate management, and how the right SSL certificate management tool can help.