Feeds

Manned 'Surrogate Predators' fill in for robot assassins

Humans go into simulations, but not into real world

High performance access to file storage

Robot aircraft are in such demand for combat in Iraq and Afghanistan that the US military - in a mildly disorienting move - is using manned aeroplanes to stand in for them during military training exercises.

It seems that high demand for the services of Predator and Reaper surveillance/assassination droids overseas has meant that none can be found to take part in the US Air Force's annual "Green Flag" air bombing exercises.

“Due to the Air Force maximum surge effort to provide more MQ-1 Predator and MQ-9 Reaper support to ground units in [US Central Command, covering the southwest Asian wars] there are no Predator or Reaper forces available to support pre-deployment exercises such as Green Flag, which focuses on air-to-ground operations,” stated USAF Predator/Reaper ops honcho Major Matt Martin last month. “The Surrogate Predator is the solution.”

The Surrogate Predator consists of an electro-optical "ball" turret of the same type carried by Predators and Reapers, fitted to an ordinary human-piloted Cessna 182 operated by the USAF's auxiliary organisation the Civil Air Patrol. The Patrol teaches young Americans to fly, and helps out with missions such as searching for missing aircraft.

“We’ve seen nothing but enthusiasm and a willingness to help from the Civil Air Patrol, which is why we chose them to do this mission,” Martin added.

The Surrogate Predators will fill in for the robots during Green Flag exercises, freeing the machine warriors for combat operations. The human pilots, unlike the robotic craft, won't be allowed real weapons, however.

“Once a target is identified by the ground commander as hostile,” explains Martin, “the Surrogate Predator will dynamically re-task into the strike role and coordinate with a forward air control to simulate the delivery of precision ordnance onto a target.”

Strange days.

We learnt about the Surrogate Predator plans from Aviation Week's excellent Ares blog, but there's more from the CAP here. ®

Bootnote

As regular readers will be aware, there are also programmes under which manned aircraft help out unmanned ones in combat. And others in which such "manned unmanned" planes are modified to operate unmanned, so swinging the pendulum back again.

High performance access to file storage

More from The Register

next story
Fancy joining Reg hack on quid-a-day challenge?
Recruiting now for charity starvation diet
Red-faced LOHAN team 'fesses up in blown SPEARS fuse fiasco
Standing in the corner, big pointy 'D' hats
KILLER SPONGES menacing California coastline
Surfers are safe, crustaceans less so
Opportunity selfie: Martian winds have given the spunky ol' rover a spring cleaning
Power levels up 70 per cent as the rover keeps on truckin'
Discovery time for 200m WONDER MATERIALS shaved from 4 MILLENNIA... to 4 years
Alloy, Alloy: Boffins in speed-classification breakthrough
Elon Musk's LEAKY THRUSTER gas stalls Space Station supply run
Helium seeps from Falcon 9 first stage, delays new legs for NASA robonaut
Top Secret US payload launched into space successfully
Clandestine NRO spacecraft sets off on its unknown mission
prev story

Whitepapers

Top three mobile application threats
Learn about three of the top mobile application security threats facing businesses today and recommendations on how to mitigate the risk.
Combat fraud and increase customer satisfaction
Based on their experience using HP ArcSight Enterprise Security Manager for IT security operations, Finansbank moved to HP ArcSight ESM for fraud management.
The benefits of software based PBX
Why you should break free from your proprietary PBX and how to leverage your existing server hardware.
Five 3D headsets to be won!
We were so impressed by the Durovis Dive headset we’ve asked the company to give some away to Reg readers.
SANS - Survey on application security programs
In this whitepaper learn about the state of application security programs and practices of 488 surveyed respondents, and discover how mature and effective these programs are.