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PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2012 11:17 am 
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Part 5: http://battleland.blogs.time.com/2012/0 ... r-routine/

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2012 1:26 pm 
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What a great series of articles. Of course, I can't independently verify the numbers any more than I can the military's but, lacking evidence to the contrary, I'm inclined to accept the information, at least in general terms.

While the articles do a nice job of evaluating costs, manning, combat effectiveness, etc. and then drawing a less than favorable overall conclusion, the one aspect that was not really evaluated was that the aircraft are, indeed, unmanned. That was kind of the whole point of the drones. I don't recall any reasonable person claiming that drones would outperform manned aircraft or cost less when compared to manned aircraft with similar capability. The major claim was that they could be used without fear of losing pilots, creating prisoner/hostage situations, or inflaming public opinion about the loss of pilots during questionable missions. And it is this aspect that the drones do perform flawlessly. Not a single pilot has been lost in the dozens (hundreds?) of drone crashes. That's the major benefit of the drones and it works perfectly.

How you evaluate the "unmanned-ness" of drones or put a price tag on it, I don't know but it must surely temper the article's unfavorable overall assessment.

Something to think about.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2012 2:01 pm 
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I think there's a balance - less potential inflammation on the US Public side as well as propaganda (unless you count the Sentinel) but more anger over additional flights caused by an emboldened leadership, as brought up in the article.

One fault I found with the series is that there are a couple of references to the A-10 being cheaper to buy; much as I like the A-10 buying new ones isn't an option, so I view it as sort of a false argument.

The big take-away for me is confirmation that the drones require MUCH more infrastructure that is not lumped into the quoted costs for the system.

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 02, 2012 2:45 pm 
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Boy, talk about a biased assessment.

They use apples and potatoes comparisons with F-16s and A-10s. There are many falsehoods in the arguments against the REAPER.

One, REAPER and F-16/A-10 were not, are not, designed for the same missions. Claiming that the A-10 (and maybe even the F-16) can survive in a "robust" air defense environment better than REAPER is not necessarily true. Claiming that REAPER would need EW support aircraft ignores the fact that A-10 and F-16s need EW support as well, along with tankers, and added EW pods. REAPER is a RECON asset designed to loiter over an area of "interest" and to take action REAL-TIME. F-16 is designed as a multi-role fighter and really is a poor "loiter-hunter" ... a pilot's ability to find and ID small targets is only as good as their skill set. A-10 was designed to kill tanks, It can take a beating, but finding small targets over long periods of time is a challenge for them as well.

Two, the costs for F-16 and A-10 are bogus. They compare one A-10/F-16 "flyaway cost" + "Development cost" to four REAPERS and several other costs including Ground Stations and personnel. First off the Development and Flyaway costs of an A-10 last delivered in 1984, are WAY out of date. The F-16 costs quoted are old as well and honestly are way under true "Flyaway" (higher that stated) cost including the NEEDED sensors (Litening or Sniper Targeting Pods) to do the mission that REAPER is designed for and has built in. The author(s) don't include the added sensors, aircraft upgrade costs, Logistics (THE largest part of any aircraft's Life-Cycle-Cost), and ground crew costs for the A-10/F-16 and use old FY cost numbers, if these aircraft were purchased as "new" today ... the numbers would be eye-popping. So given what the author(s) used, sure the costs look bad for REAPER. Further, it isn't necessarily true that there will be a ground station purchased for EVER four REAPERS. There will be replacement aircraft bought for those lost.

Three, they don't compare what it would REALLY take for manned aircraft ... F-16 or A-10 ... to do this mission. REAPERS are designed to loiter for a very long-time. For a manned aircraft to stay on station that long, a tanker would be required or multiple aircraft available to keep one on station for the same period of time. REAPER isn't stealthy by any means, but they are slow and can fly low using terrain as an aid and are harder for "Mark One Eyeballs and Ears" to detect them. Loitering over Pakistan is a lot easier for REAPER than for an A-10 or F-16. REAPERS wouldn't make go multi-role fighter either ... no one expects them to.

Again, the biggest reason REAPER (and PREDATOR before her) are used, is they DON'T have a pilot that can be captured and put on display having his/her head cut-off.


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