back to article US Navy to field full-on robot war-jets as soon as 2018

The US Navy has indicated that it would like to have unmanned, robotic spyplane/bombers operating from its aircraft carriers "in the 2018 timeframe", which suggests that flying kill-robots will soon be in the same league as the most powerful manned combat aircraft. The X-47B makes its first flight. Credit: Northrop Grumman …

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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Not the first time the US has reneged on a promise or other

    So I'm basically waiting for the rebranding announcement to "skynet". Bets on whether that's before or after the merger with boeing, northrop, et al.? Do I even want to know what "military" joss-sticks and whalesong sessions are like?

    1. Scorchio!!

      Re: Not the first time the US has reneged on a promise or other

      Can't. The label has been taken by the British defence system for more than 40 years. The latest incarnation of Skynet is 5x:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Skynet_%28satellite%29

      Military joss sticks? We used to buy them from civvies. Perhaps things have changed.

  2. Gulfie
    Boffin

    Interesting...

    Of course all this really is, is an extrapolation of existing tech. Cruise missiles use a pre-loaded mission profile and are completely autonomous once launched (although I'm not suggesting they can't be called off at all before their mission objective is achieved). It is perfectly feasible to equip an aircraft with the same kind of tech, just programmed to launch/drop weapons in a predetermined fashion and then return to base.

    As long as the programming doesn't allow for autonomous decision making of course.

  3. Graham Bartlett

    2018?

    Just about in time for the RAF to get its Typhoons in service, and the Navy to get its JSFs. Joy.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Terminator

    May I Be The First

    To welcome our UCLASS overlords.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They need to start training dolphins

    They're the prisms of the seas

    1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge
      Coat

      Or sharks

      WITH FRIKKIN LASERS!!!!!

      obviously

  6. ravenviz
    Terminator

    "Persistent"

    TERMINATOR: You are targeted for termination. The T-1000

    will not stop until it complete its mission.

    Ever.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Terminator

      Autonomous terminator

      Funny you should mention the Terminator. California was the target of THE Terminator in the form of Governor Schwartznegger. Although his autonomy was less than complete as he was under the control of the Republican Party.

      It didn't end well for the late, great state of California. Or the Republicans.

  7. Pete Rowley
    Terminator

    No ROTM tag?

    It's through casual inattentiveness like this that they'll catch us out.

    1. Darryl
      Terminator

      They'll be sorry

      when the Aerial Hunter-Killers take to the sky

  8. Dr. Mouse Silver badge

    Good idea?

    "In short, in a fight, humans would easily win an air war against the robots - at the moment."

    Would it not be a good idea to keep it that way?

    1. ravenviz
      Terminator

      Re: Good idea?

      This has already been thought of: http://forums.theregister.co.uk/post/802710

      It's the 4th Law of Robotics.

      Probably.

  9. Interceptor
    Happy

    THE HUMANOID MUST NOT ESCAPE

    Evil Otto, don't you know.

  10. ShaggyDoggy

    Can't wait

    until these things go head-to-head with the Russkie version

  11. J Welek
    Go

    Feasibility study?

    Yes, it's possible, but it's gonna cost a lot. Should you do it? Have you seen the Terminator movies? That's $2M please. A bank transfer will be fine. :)

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Tomahawk cruise missiles...

    "they decide on their own whether or not they've found the right place/thing to blow up."

    I've yet to see one decide to return to base.

    So I wouldn't go as far as describing them as autonomous 'release' as one launched 'release' is the only outcome.

    So just Autonomous guidance. hence just like any heat seeker..

  13. despairing citizen
    Stop

    Man in the Loop vs Radio Control

    Same problem as all the other drone concepts, you can give it a fixed target, and it will still blow it up even if the school bus is parked in front of the AA battery, where as a human would know better.

    If you plan on active radio control, you are assuming the other side can't jam you, or take over your own drones and send them back! (remember the US where the people who where broadcasting predator feeds in the clear!, and the highly secure wikileaks proof confidential network!)

    Until we get really smart computer systems, I personally believe your better with a mark 1 human in control.

  14. Big Al
    Grenade

    Autonomy...

    Autonomous weapons release is what leads to things like airliners being shot down by mistake...

    Big fan of the remote piloted alternative, me... after all, there's always going to be kids who are good with joysticks available to fly them.

  15. Anonymous South African Coward Silver badge
    Coat

    Where...

    ...can I buy my own Terminator?

    Getting out while I still can.

    RotM tag is missing though.

  16. laird cummings
    Grenade

    More and more...

    Ronald Reagan appears to have been an oracle: Vid kids controling aircraft of the future. How is this different than a console game? From the controler's POV, there is no difference.

    How tempting will it be in the future to go fling a little 'bang' on some annoying geo-political bother, when there's no risk of bodies coming home in boxes?

    Clinton loved to toss about cruise missiles at random, and so does, aparantly, Obama. Bush, at least, was willing to risk body counts, even if he was a jerk.

    Grenade, 'cause that's what the future will bring us.

    *BTW: The original autonomous killer robot is the auto-mobile torpedo - In their most basic form, they've been killing meat bags since the 1870s. In the 1940s, they gained the ability to seek and terminate their own victims (including, occasionally, the very boat that launched them).

  17. Anonymous Coward
    Terminator

    News as entertainment.

    Next: BBC replaces war correspondent John Simpson with Jonathan Pearce.

    "Let the battle commence"

  18. Breaking_News
    Welcome

    Title does not compute

    Just because no one else has used it yet....

    ...Mine's the welcome mat with the built-in arrestor wire and ATV-derived automated landing system.

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    The Skynet funding bill is passed

    Human decisions are removed from strategic defence

    <Dates already in the past removed - ed>

    The system goes online.

    Skynet begins learning at a geometric rate, it becomes self aware.

    In ze panic, zey try to poll ze plog.

  20. Alan Firminger

    The future is a cornucopia of options

    As has been said this is an extension of cruise missile and drone war technology. It is also an extension of the autopilot.

    So a good games designer should be able to get this coded for a pilotless Typhoon to intercept mythical intruders within a year and fly home. Then add one year for carrier ops.

    Yes, that is possible. The reality is that the contractors would be greedy and the client incompetent. So lets say 2022 for demo, 2032 for service and it would be 2042 for fleet use. So lets not bother.

  21. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Pirate

    Carrier jocks will *never* go for this.

    *something* will happen that will demonstrate that they are not *quite* there yet.

  22. Anomalous Cowturd
    Terminator

    Time to worry?

    Once you take the meat bag out of the airframe, the plane can be allowed to perform super high G manoeuvres that would render any opposing meat bags to mince bags... Or gravy...

    Do they really want to go down this road?

    No RotM icon.

  23. Martin 34
    Terminator

    Autonomous

    The plan is for these things to be autonomous. See the video on the "ethical governor" on youtube: h**p://www.youtube.com/watch?v=96oR36im7cY. Note the "insurgents" with their dangerous placards and the "religious building" and the fact that the video is brought to you by the chamber of commerce.

  24. Stuart Duel
    Terminator

    Hello, Earth to U.N.?

    Isn't about the the U.N. put a complete stop to this nonsense before it all ends in tears for humanity?

  25. Spyware
    Thumb Up

    PS3 in the SKY!

    I'm joining the Air Force and all I need is my Game Controller. I don't have to kill my Russian opponent, just his inferior UAV. Can't Wait!!!

  26. bugalugs
    Joke

    A great leap forward for casualty rates

    Or should I say, backwards ?

  27. AceRimmer1980
    Terminator

    Will it have a brain like a quantum sponge?

    Luckily, when it tries to download the whole internets, it's CPU will overheat as there is more inane garbage than it will ever keep up with.

    1. laird cummings
      Terminator

      RE: Will it have a brain...

      All the inane garbage found on teh interwebs will be the reason *why* SkyNet wipes us out. It'll be a case of pure self-defense, really...

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