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This kind of planes are not what is needed to be a superpower nowadays. The landscape of military confrontation has completely changed.

Easy to say, impossible to act on.

While we're in a speculative mood, just what kind of planes do you think are needed to be a superpower nowadays? Seems to me that a plausible answer is drones, lots of drones, and missiles, with a EW / networking / stealth focused plane to forward-position a human to coordinate them. The F-35 seems to fit that role like a glove.

ICBMs are another potential answer but I have a hard time being angry at war toys that provide intermediate options between "peace" and "destroy the world."

I believe that a mix of 5th-gen airplanes and many UAVs, both with AI and with remote pilots hosted on stand-off AWACS-style planes, is the right answer.

I believe the same would be true for tanks. Lots of small and nimble tanklets remotely operated from stand-off mobile c&c centers.

AI technology isn't something that actually exists today (outside of a few limited parlour tricks). It's science fiction. Procurement decisions have to be made based on reality.

Remote operation is vulnerable to jamming and anti-satellite weapons.

AI sufficient for superhuman dogfighting runs on PC


You could have a plane that goes from point A to B and shoots down anyone that tries to stop it along the way without any remote operation.

>You could have a plane that goes from point A to B and shoots down anyone that tries to stop it along the way without any remote operation.

And you don't envision any problems with this?

Does it matter what I envision? It's possible. It might be useful. So it will be done.

>shoots down anyone

Like Iranian or Korean Boings?

Sure. Just like humans tend to do. Or not if the right person cares enough to program it not to.

That is not what the link says it did not pilot even simulated jet. It issued orders as a controller would on border of AWACS I guess.

I don't think that's the case. Another link: https://www.popsci.com/ai-pilot-beats-air-combat-expert-in-d...

That's a constrained simulation, not the real world.

Can you indicate where in the article or the linked study those constraints are indicated? Military flights sims tend to be pretty decent for this.

The whole scenario was unrealistic. Simple rules of engagement, pre-programmed objectives, little or no EW, no ground control or AWACS, no ground defenses. The technology holds promise and will eventually be capable but we're still decades away from something that can replace human pilots across the full spectrum of missions.

The AI was defending, so it would've benefited from ground defenses, and the study indicates the human team had AWACS assistance.

Yeah, I think the big question is which style of C&C is better. A single pilot in a F-35 closer to the action, or a bunch of pilots further away in a sitting duck with a big antenna.

The answer might even change as AI develops.

If I had a budget the size of the US military, I'd want both.

I've never understood how the F-35 pilot is supposed to command both their own plane and an army of drones at the same time.

Once all the LEO satellite communication projects are up and running you could be pretty far and still get decent performance.

I think directed-energy ASAT weapons will be deployable around that time frame, so I wouldn't bet on the resiliency of LEO/MEO constellations there.

You're going to need a lot of ASAT firepower to put a dent in StarLink's constellation (thousands of minisats).

And thus lasers, which will presumably have a far higher sustained fire rate / magazine depth than ASAT-capable missiles. (And 100kW-class lasers aren't science fiction anymore, since the US Navy is deploying them for testing)


The Chinese and Russians seem to be going for intermediate-range semi-ballistic missiles (i.e. with terminal guidance and maneuvering), China in particular focusing on the anti-ship role and seriously worrying the US Navy in the process.

Of course, no one knows that the next war is going to look like until it happens; speculation on what mix of weapons will be most effective is fruitless without combat experience, and we haven't had symmetrical wars with the latest technology since... what, 1973?

Agreed on the future being lots of drones and missiles but I don't see how throwing a human or two into the middle of that chaos will help much. And the plane is either stealthy (but not as much as a smaller drone) or a powerful EW/CC antenna (but but as much as a purpose-built AWACS), but not both (unless they're using point-to-point laser comms already).

In a well-tuned AI drone/missile fleet I'd expect a forward-positioned human to be completely useless, but I wouldn't expect the first AI engagements to be anything resembling well-tuned.

Antennas can be turned off in microseconds, but AWACS can't stop being a big fat sitting duck ever.

I think drones and missiles are definitely the current best answer against countries that have poor capabilities of defense.

In case you need to assert air superiority over a better armed adversary then you would need the best fighter planes possible and this F35 will probably not pass the mark.

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