Feeds

US killer robo-plane makes strike without remote pilot

Automated killware now handled by sergeants

The next step in data security

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. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
SCREW YOU, Russia! NASA lobs $6.8bn at Boeing AND SpaceX to run space station taxis
Musk charging nearly half as much as Boeing for crew trips
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Thought that last dinosaur was BIG? This one's bloody ENORMOUS
Weighed several adult elephants, contend boffins
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
India's MOM Mars mission makes final course correction
Mangalyaan probe will feel the burn of orbital insertion on September 24th
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
City hidden beneath England's Stonehenge had HUMAN ABATTOIR. And a pub
Boozed-up ancients drank beer before tearing corpses apart
prev story

Whitepapers

Providing a secure and efficient Helpdesk
A single remote control platform for user support is be key to providing an efficient helpdesk. Retain full control over the way in which screen and keystroke data is transmitted.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
Security and trust: The backbone of doing business over the internet
Explores the current state of website security and the contributions Symantec is making to help organizations protect critical data and build trust with customers.