Thursday, April 05, 2012

Another Drone Crashes

VICTORIA (Reuters) - A U.S. drone crash-landed at the Seychelles main airport and careered into the ocean on Wednesday, the second remotely piloted MQ-9 Reaper aircraft to crash on the Indian Ocean archipelago in four months.

The Seychelles Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) said the aircraft had technical problems soon after taking off and tried to land at Seychelles International Airport on the main island of Mahe.

What we are not hearing is whether or not there had been radio interference interrupting the drone's command channels, something I suspect is being attempted everywhere we fly our drones.

Of course we are not hearing anything like that... It would be really bad for the drone projects worldwide, bad for the military, bad for the contractors that build the things, bad for the politicians that get the kickbacks.

What the Washington crowd doesn't seem to understand is that if a drone can be remotely controlled by us, it can be remotely messed with by somebody else. There is no foolproof way to protect a drone from enemy interference, anymore than there is a foolproof way to protect a computer from hackers. It's the arms race all over again, except it's over us finding an all-new secure communications channel and them finding how to crack it.

When you hear some putz claim that we have totally secure communications with our drones, what you are really hearing is whistling in the dark. Nothing is totally secure, and even if the enemy can't break the latest control codes quickly, they can easily jam the signals to the drone. I suspect that's how the Iranians got their drone: They jammed the control signals, so the drone went into automatic mode and landed itself... in enemy territory.

Keep in mind that today's engineers are products of today's Colleges and Universities, where they learned more about feminism and socialism than they did about good design, so don't expect any sort of excellence-in-design by them. What you can expect from them is a fierce defence of their mediocrity.

Also remember that in an all-volunteer military, we are not getting the best and brightest in the services, so a lot of members of the maintenance crews may not be the brightest bulbs in the box and not performing proper maintenance routines. As an ex-military member, I could cite numerous occasions where maintenance - preventive and corrective - was less than required. I can imagine that short-cutting and cheating on maintenance is as bad a problem today as it ever was... probably worse, since training and schooling nowadays is a poor echo of what it used to be.

As the government and the military lose drone after drone, us lucky taxpayers get to pick up the tab.

In our downward slide to mediocrity, nothing has changed but the price tag.


Annoyed Jarhead said...

We are over reliant on tech these days, as these drone "accidents" show. And since so many of our precision weapons are based on GPS tech, you just know our potential enemies have those satellites targeted, just in case. The Chinese demonstrated that fairly recently, and the old USSR had plans for attacking satellites, as well.

But then you went and starting droning (pun intended, see what I did there?) on about the all volunteer military. There is a huge difference between a force of draftees, many of whom are bitter about having to be there, and those of us who actually wanted to take our turn on the wall.

My USMC helo unit was the most professional group of people I have ever known, in spite of an average age of 20-21. We knew our mission, and never lost an aircraft due to incompetence, frequently working 12-20 hour days for weeks at a time.

Bob said...

No issues here with your helo unit, no doubt manned with well trained and dedicated individuals.

Those in charge of who goes where are not in the habit of putting sluffoffs and goofballs in units that require intelligence and dedication, so your comments are naturally biased by your experience.

Many Guardsmen forced into active military duty is another matter. Those who joined the guard only for the extra money, and never once thinking they would be activated into endless conflict halfway around the world. They end up in places that are 12th century hellholes, having just a few spots where something resemblng modern civilization has taken hold. All they really want is out.

Or those who joined the military as a stopgap job with every intention to get out as soon as the economy looks up.

We have a lot of both types in our military today, and if these fair-weather soldiers are placed in postitions of responsibibilty, hang on... Things will go south.

These are the ones who often falsify the PM and CM records, don't do all the required maintenance, making their unit's equipment look more ready than it really is.

Thats how a multi-million-dollar drone creashes on takeoff.

Just one slacker can cost a unit dearly.