back to article Drone exercise will transform future naval warfare, says Navy

The Royal Navy’s ongoing drone exercise Unmanned Warrior has been a “transformational opportunity”, Rear Admiral Paul Bennett said this morning. Admiral Bennett, assistant chief of the naval staff for capability, speaking via video link from Scotland, told a press briefing at the Centre for Maritime Intelligence Systems at …

  1. Anonymous Blowhard

    I'm not sure we shouldn't just skip "unmanned war" and go straight to a "virtual war" policy.

    Nations could settle conflicts in a VR environment, with the losers having to give some economic and cultural concessions to the winners e.g. if Russia wins they get a better price for gas and we have to eat Borscht, and if the USA wins then they can increase the price of Oracle licenses and make us eat MacDonalds.

    They could do this on a four-yearly basis, chosen to avoid the Olympics and World Cup perhaps.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      "Nations could settle conflicts in a VR environment, [...]"

      The results could determine who hosted a future Olympics, World Cup, or the Eurovision Song Contest.

      As long as it doesn't mandate human casualties like the Startrek "A Taste of Armageddon" episode.

      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/A_Taste_of_Armageddon

      1. Mark 85 Silver badge

        As long as it doesn't mandate human casualties like the Startrek "A Taste of Armageddon" episode.

        It might end up that way if some activist types get their way. Isn't one of the staples of war being to reduce population? Some say that a reduced population is necessary to sustain the Earth and environment, etc. and this would fit right into their agenda as long as they don't end up on the list of those who have to report to the casualty center..

        1. Geoff Campbell
          Mushroom

          Reducing population

          Perhaps counter-intuitively, war has pretty much no effect on population numbers. Dig out any world population graph, and you will have real problems working out where the really big wars happened.

          WW3 might be rather different, of course, now that the headbangers are in charge.

          GJC

          1. Alan Brown Silver badge

            Re: Reducing population

            "Perhaps counter-intuitively, war has pretty much no effect on population numbers. "

            That's not entirely true. War, Famine and Pestilence cause slight dips in population (major dips in the case of Black Death), followed by those numbers being more than made up in the 1-2 generations following.

            This is why anyone advocating war as a means of population control clearly hasn't studied history.

            1. Tom_

              Re: Reducing population

              That's why we now have constant war, so we don't get the generation or two of peace that followed the more traditional, occasional wars. It prevents the masses enjoying life and breeding too much.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Reminds me of a Star Trek episode

      Apparently it was called A Taste of Armageddon.

      Makes about as much sense as spending trillions to achieve the same result :/

    3. Oflife

      Ah ha!

      Back in the 1980s, I designed a video game based on that concept of a virtual war, but between Earth and another planet, that I named 'TiEkun'. :) Was going to develop it for the Amiga and other machines of the day, but we got involved in something else and it never happened. Today, you have (if they finish it!) Star Citizen!

    4. Edward Ashford

      Yes, because countries with lots of tanks always play fair

      Given how well the ceasefires in Syria went I think whoever lost would just start shooting anyway. Maybe even while the Top Guns of the other side were still being distracted by the VR

  2. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
    Windows

    Navy obsoletes itself, not many medal wearers dead. Film at 11

    Yep, a sea free of ships and possibly subs.

    The ramming up the backside of "carriers" and "supercarriers" is definitely on.

    For the rest, Stanislaw Lem's "Upside-Down Evolution" describes well what is happening.

    1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge

      Re: Navy obsoletes itself, not many medal wearers dead. Film at 11

      Drone planes make sense. They're on station for short periods of time, and extra weight is a big disadvantage. So the stuff needed to keep the meaty pilot happy slows them down.

      Ships and subs need to be big. The systems they carry are bulky, the power requirements large, and they need endurance on station. Which means much fuel, or a nuclear reactor. That also means they need repairs, something else human pilots don't do inflight. So the extra bulk of crew is much less of an issue, even if robots could do the job, which they can't.

      A torpedo is already pretty large, and basically a drone. But only has a range of a few miles. We're decades, and autonomous mini nuclear reactors, away from drones replacing submarines.

      Aerial drones might be cheap and capable enough to make surface ships obsolete years before drone surface ships are worth it. Except you can defend against that drone swarm with your own, carrier based, drone swarm...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        @ I ain't Spartacus

        Re: "Except you can defend against that drone swarm with your own, carrier based, drone swarm..."

        You obviously haven't seen the latest Star Trek movie. Or the Ancients chair from Stargate Atlantis for that matter ;)

      2. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

        Re: Navy obsoletes itself, not many medal wearers dead. Film at 11

        "Except you can defend against that drone swarm with your own, carrier based, drone swarm..."

        One of the reasons the RN is interested in drone ships/subs/aircraft is down to a lack of manpower to crew their existing fleet. One wonders how they are planning on manning a couple of carriers, with or without drone swarms. Will there be enough sailors to man two new carriers and their support fleets and still keep the rest of the RN afloat?

      3. kyndair

        Re: Navy obsoletes itself, not many medal wearers dead. Film at 11

        Apart from those mini nuclear reactors used in satellites and probes. Admittedly they don't generate a large amount of power but I wouldn't put past someone to stick one as the long term power source for a torpedo to keep it on station.

        1. Gordon 10 Silver badge

          Re: Navy obsoletes itself, not many medal wearers dead. Film at 11

          Technically they aren't nuclear reactors, but nuclear batteries or radioisotope generators. They use the heat generated from nuclear decay rather than nuclear fission.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Navy obsoletes itself, not many medal wearers dead. Film at 11

      For the rest, Stanislaw Lem's "Upside-Down Evolution" describes well what is happening.

      If I had a dozen more upvotes, they'd be yours here. I think another pertinent Lem reference is "Peace on Earth"; in general, most of the ongoining social and technical maladies of the world we live in are remarkably well analyzed by Lem.

      For some reason, I am starting to think of "The Futurological Congress". Perhaps I need to have a little lie-down now ... or at least have a lie-down pill.

  3. This post has been deleted by its author

  4. Your alien overlord - fear me

    also attending

    was the Russians and Chinese. Via malware, backdoors, trojans and well, any means necessary. And traditional means like double agents and that large submarine. Just there. To your right.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: also attending

      and that large submarine. Just there. To your right.

      Yep. The one that the UK military can't detect because that limp wristed clown Cameron scrapped both current and next generation Nimrods, with no plans for any alternative.

      I'm not sure how Cameron only rated 3rd worst prime minister...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: also attending

        I have in my hand a piece of paper.

        1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
          Holmes

          Re: also attending

          That's unfair because there was nothing to enforce anything on that piece of paper (dead british empire is dead and has not even planes to go into Europe etc.) and Mussolini had been declared Ghaddafi of the day instead of Valued Friend Against The Mustachioed One because he had had the termerity to grab our piece of the desert, the bastard!

          1. Anonymous Coward
            Anonymous Coward

            Re: also attending

            You forgot to mention the mustard gassing of ethiopians.

            We did force Mussolini's hand regarding italy's alignment with Germany when we signed a bilateral naval treaty with Germany behind italy's back. Before then Mussolini most most voiciferious in limiting German Nazy expansion beyond the limits set in Versailles, because you know, Mare Nostrum and all that.

      2. Tom_

        Re: also attending

        "limp wristed"? Does anyone actually use that term any more? Outside a Bernard Manning tribute act, I mean.

  5. psychonaut

    hey, at least we could actually put some flying things on our new aircraft carriers. if they just went to maplin and bought 10,000 kids copters it would save us all a forutne, and be fucking awesome. imagine a swarm of them descending on the isis hq.

    ow. whats that ow. bloody helicopter just nearly took my eye out. aah. get off....oh my god....LOOOOOK as the grey cloud of toddler raptors envelops them........thats no cloud....RUN! RUUUUUN

    1. Leeroy Silver badge

      Shouldn't laugh but

      My 7 year old's drone piloting skills are out of this world, if you consider getting tangled in his sister, mother, grans hair hair a kill shot he could rack up more fatalities than Chuck Norris !

    2. Doctor_Wibble
      Trollface

      Inconvenience them into surrendering

      I've always felt that a war involving inflicting extreme inconvenience on your enemy's country would be far more effective than actually trying to kill anyone. Plane-loads of ping-pong balls or small pieces of broken polystyrene and/or the hole bits collected from hole-punches would drive people round the twist and just beg their government to stop whatever they were doing and give in.

      10,000 drones is a good idea but more directly aggressive than I would be comfortable with.

      That said if you choose some glittery pastel-coloured fluffy kid's version instead of the Flying Terror With Realistic Zappy Sounds model the public might be more supportive of such action and the enemy would be a bit stuck as to how to retaliate anyway. "Yes Sir. About ten thousand. Seven Applejacks and three Pinkie Pies so far. It's the later 2015 model sir, with the butterfly - yes sir. Shutting up now sir".

      1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken
        Pint

        Re: Inconvenience them into surrendering

        Brilliant! Have one -->

        This could really work... carpet bomb them with fluffy toys and little rubber balls, saturate all frequencies with polka music... the possibilities are endless.

        Come to think of, a bit like the tennis match in 'Les vacances de Monsieur Hulot".

        1. IsJustabloke
          Stop

          Re: Inconvenience them into surrendering

          "saturate all frequencies with polka music..."

          That would be a war crime right there....

      2. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Inconvenience them into surrendering

        <I've always felt that a war involving inflicting extreme inconvenience on your enemy's country would be far more effective than actually trying to kill anyone. </i>

        Top idea! What about secretly dosing the water supply with ferrous sulphate, so that the entire population become chronically egg-bound? And because ferrous sulphate is commonly used in water treatment, the water company will get the blame.

        Follow that up with contaminating the Andrex paper mill feed stock with a good proportion of naga chillies? They don't like it up 'em!

        1. Alan Brown Silver badge

          Re: Inconvenience them into surrendering

          "Follow that up with contaminating the Andrex paper mill feed stock with a good proportion of naga chillies? "

          For maximum effect you want the "contamination" to be injected randomly. If it's provable back to one source people will dump the lot, or find a replacement water source.

          This kind of stuff does get done, although the thought of glitterbombing your enemy does strike me as cruel and unusual.

          1. Michael H.F. Wilkinson Silver badge

            Re: Inconvenience them into surrendering

            I thought inflicting Polka music on your enemy was banned by the Geneva Convention? Or was that the infinite loop of Eurovision Song Contest Winners?

      3. Grade%

        Re: Inconvenience them into surrendering

        Great. War reduced to "glitter" bombing. Hmm, I liike it.

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge

          Re: Inconvenience them into surrendering

          Well.. someone will have to clean it up. Ever try to get glitter out of a keyboard? Imagine a city covered in glitter. Oh wait.. there will be a large fine for littering.

  6. Mark 85 Silver badge
    Devil

    Job title....

    Fleet Robotics Officer Commander Peter Pipkin, who embraced his post as having “undeniably one of the best job titles ever.”

    A lot better than "Admiral of the Red" in October, 1805. That was literally, a dead-end.

    1. Destroy All Monsters Silver badge
      Angel

      Re: Job title....

      It depends on whether he has to wear two-colored skintight pajamas from now on.

    2. mwnci

      Re: Job title....

      No "Admiral of the Yellow" was the worst...

      But in truth, the Royal Navy lacks critical mass.

      If a Type 45 has a Navigational Accident, 16% of the UK Air Defence Destroyers are not available. Also add in the rule of 5, e.g One Ship on deployment, One in work up, one in pieces in Refit, and another getting ready for refit and another on it's last legs and needs a refit.

      You can quickly see, that 20 FF/DD's gives you 4 on deployment, 4 in work up/ FOST, 4 in light refit, 4 completely decommissioned and in deep refit, and the other 4 returned from Ops / on specific duties like Fleet Ready Escort etc.

      It qives you a Surge capacity of about 8-9 ships, as others deployed on the farside of the world may not get to the Area of Operations, or may have to maintain current tasking.

      So any navigational issue that takes another Hull out of commission means there are severe consequences down stream. It's not great, the Royal Navy is "fragile" and could not stand up to the kind of losses sustained in the Falklands, where 11 ships were damaged or sunk.

      The Royal Navy is first rate, but it's becoming a bit of a Glass Cannon, in that it can hit hard, but cannot take much of a hit back.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "Unmanned Warrior is a test exercise designed partly to demonstrate what industry is currently capable of, partly to get the MoD’s traditional big contractors talking to smaller firms who have developed civilian drone tech already,"

    So the MoD is actively helping the big contractors find small companies to screw over, so they can add zeroes to prices and then sell tech to the MoD (rather than identifying & encouraging small firms with interesting tech)?

    Anyone would think there was something fishy going on, like ex-military or MoD-types getting jobs at those same big contractors when they 'retire' .......

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    A recent scathing MAIB report, would indicate that drone tech is best kept out of the RN's hands until they have learned basic lessons about communication and safety.

    See here...https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/marine-accident-investigation-branch

  9. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

    "The future is ovbious ..."

    Warning! Sharp learning curve ahead!

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