F-22 to Launch Networked Unmanned Aerial Kamikaze Vehicles

From Aviation Week… Boeing’s Phantom Works is designing tiny UAVs that can be launched in clusters, at supersonic speed, hover around a target area for up to two days, and autonomously aerially refuel from another UAV (!):

After one weapon identifies a target, all those flying in the area could swarm to the target if it’s designated a priority. Or some weapons may be directed to continue the search while only a few attack. For such operations, the gateway UAV would be an important element. “It would be the tie to whatever network this system of vehicles becomes part of,” Avila said. The Air Force is conducting studies on the optimum tactics for ganging up on targets such as a moving column of tanks.

The weapons-carrying versions of the air vehicle would launch up to two skeet-like explosive submunitions and would then strike a third target in a suicide attack. Each vehicle would also carry an onboard sensor such as a flash laser radar (ladar) and a network data link–probably Link 16.

The refueling and gateway aircraft would likely be about 50% larger than the other UAVs in the cluster.

Pretty interesting stuff. Someone was kind enough to violate copyright at this link: http://forum.a-10.org/topic.asp?TOPIC_ID=3620 if you want the full scoop.

Man, these things sound like little RoboCops. Scary stuff. I can just imagine these things acquiring wrong target. Oops.

It’s funny, because the first thing that crossed my mind after seeing the movie Toys was, “Damn, this movie blew. But they just predicted the future of the military.”

Ten years later…

Denny, are you sure that your interest in R/C airplanes isn’t just training for a career in the military?

Isn’t that a bit like saying my interest in First Person Shooters is preparing me to be a serial killer? ;)

Isn’t it??

It reminds me of Jerry Pournelle’s idea for the Thor Orbital Weapon System. That is orbiting tungsten rods with guidance packages and a reentry rocket attached. Strike anywhere on Earth, with very short response time.

Here’s another creative use of kinetic energy weapons.

Isn’t an “unmanned aerial kamikaze vehicle” otherwise known as a “missile” or a “bomb”?

Missiles and bombs don’t typically fly around for 48 hours looking for targets, perhaps dropping munitions on them before finally kamikaze attacking targets themselves.

So, no.

Heard about this one a while back I think. I didn’t know it had an aeroelastic wing though.

Check out the video of the 80 JDAMs-at-once drop test.


After seeing this, I think that you could probably take on an entire country’s worth of targets with one B-52 filled with SDBs… (assuming AA defenses weren’t an issue)

Missiles and bombs don’t typically fly around for 48 hours looking for targets, perhaps dropping munitions on them before finally kamikaze attacking targets themselves.

So, no.[/quote]

But… can it be “kamikaze” if it’s unmanned? That seems like an oxymoron.

Robot love their mummys, so I see no reason they can’t be kamikazes.

The test vehicle there was a B-2. Who needs a B-52? Just sortie a Stealth Bomber out of Knob Noster and it’ll decapitate an entire country. Jeezus, could you imagine if those bombs had been actually carrying high explosive? They were just practice duds, but you could just see the accuracy there.

B-52s are cheaper and more numerous. Who needs a B-2 when you can just have a B-52?

When you have to conduct a gazillion SEAD missions before you can safely bring a B-52 in. But if you want a decaptitation shot with no warning, it’s the B-2.

Easterbrook goes over the history of the F22 project in amusing detail:


Good article, especially because it agrees with my Fuck the F-22 idea.

kamikaze means “divine wind”, yeah, It could be argued that intelligent self-destructive weapons could be seen from that viewpoint.

Well I kinda agree with the loveable Easterbrook (who also writes Tuesday Morning Quarterback) except for his laughable line about the JSF being “nearly as good at interceptor missions.” Please, the JSF will be about as good with interceptors missions as the A-10. That is to say… possible, but definitely not what it should be doing in its spare time.

And I still think they shoulda kept the Crusader.

— Alan