ROBOT DEATH FROM ABOVE
The "Golden Age" of science fiction was from the 1930's through the 1960's. This was mainly due to legendary editors
of the influential science fiction magazines
that insisted on real science being used in all of the stories that they printed. One of the recurring themes from this time was the killing machine running amok
, deadly robots that would slaughter without mercy.
Recently Jane's Defence reported on how armed pilotless vehicles are being developed
. Of course this isn't a new idea. During World War I a pilotless aerial torpedo
. And everyone remembers Germany's V-1 weapon from World War II
. But these were one shot kamikaze weapons, and not reusable aircraft.
Development of unpiloted aircraft originally
focused on fitting a conventional aircraft with radio controls. But soon it was found that designs
that didn't have room
for a pilot
was the most efficient
since the aerodynamic shape could be smoother
. No one bothered to arm these craft since reliable fire and forget, self targeting "smart" weapons weren't around yet.
But after the Hellfire missile
was upgraded with improved fire control and targeting packages, experiments were conducted to arm a recon drone
, specifically this type of drone
. It was even used in Afghanistan this year
under combat conditions, with some success.
The biggest problem has been one of capacity. The drones are designed to be light and quiet, lurking about undected over areas of interest for up to a day. The way that they could carry any armament was through draining the fuel tanks about halfway. Even so the drone could only carry two missiles. But now larger drones, specifically designed to attack targets, are in development. They'll only have enough fuel to stay in the air for 12 hours or so, the same as the armed Predators we have now. But they'll carry 12 to 16 Hellfire missiles instead of the measly two that are now the best that can be done.
Things are going to get interesting. I wonder if the Air Force is looking for a geek that likes to play computer games? I bet I could do a pretty good job piloting one of those drones around and blowing stuff up. After all, I've had plenty of practice.