New Tech Protects War Planes With Swarming Decoys

New Tech Protects War Planes With Swarming Decoys

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Like something straight out of a Gradius-inspired dream, defense contractor Raytheon has unveiled a plan to unleash swarms of flying robot decoys onto the battlefield.

Before I address the cloud of mechanical terror I just mentioned, we should cover the basics. Specifically, the military's love for the MALD.

That stands for Miniature Air-Launched Decoy, and in layman's terms it refers to a device that is launched like a missile, activates in mid-air and proceeds to totally wreak havoc on the enemy's ability to continue fighting. From decoys that convince enemy weapons and radar that they are, in fact, multi-billion-dollar airplanes, to the more direct decoys that simply explode, the MALDs are quite literally miniature airborne robots bent on destruction.

So, what's more impressive than a MALD? How about a "cloud-like swarm" of the things?

Raytheon, a defense contractor known for blatantly lifting design ideas from Stan Lee's brain, has unveiled a plan that will allow the military to deploy hundreds of MALDs simultaneously. Dubbed "MALD Cargo Air-Launched System," the concept allows racks of the decoys to be dropped from a C-130 transport plane. Following the drop the MALDs would self-deploy, activating in freefall, and go about their business.

Specifically, the idea is that this cloud of angry man-sized metal wasps (which Wired aptly describes as "a cross between a cruise missile and an aerial drone") could be used to protect military planes from enemy attack.

There are few things in existence that worry the pilot of an F-16, but the top of that list would be guided missiles. Given such a situation and the presence of a MALD swarm, the decoys could use their on-board countermeasures to convince the approaching missiles to explode prematurely. Even more impressively, a single MALD could convince the missile's guidance systems that it was a preferable target to the actual war plane, then lead the weapon far off course.

Originally the MALDs were designed to be sent at targets in advance of bombing runs. The enemies would waste their missiles on the decoys, thus protecting the bombers. Recent advancements however have given the MALDs sensor suites, supersonic-capable engines and on-board munitions, making the swarm less an analogue to the chaff bombers used to drop to foil oncoming missiles, and more a cloud of miniature autonomous war planes.

It's an impressive use of our increasingly robust technology, but it seems almost inevitable that these MALD swarms will develop into weapons in their own right. We've been using unmanned decoys to attack targets for years now, so the logical leap to "let's attack with a few hundred unmanned decoys" is almost assumed.

Of course, that's the point in the evolution of human warfare where things start spiraling straight into "machine uprising" territory. How do you fight explosive, giant, metal locusts armed with machine guns, and infrared sensors? You don't. You dig yourself into a hole and hope Michael Biehn isn't too busy to save you.

Source: Raytheon, via Wired

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Earnest Cavalli:

Specifically, the idea is that this cloud of angry man-sized metal wasps (which Wired aptly describes as "a cross between a cruise missile and an aerial drone") could be used to protect military planes from enemy attack.

If thats to be believed then why cant i turn them into a swarm of smart bombs and use those instead of regular bombers?

Lifted from Stan Lee's brain must be right, because they certainly didnt think of a way to improve it.

That's it, fuck guided missiles, just gimme some good ole fashioned Vulcan Cannon! You can't fool a river of lead...

Alright. Seriously, every time a new piece of tech is revealed, or anything computer related, the writer goes "OH I HOPE THE ROBOTS DONT KILL US HURR GUYS."

It's getting old, and makes technological advances stale. Stop it already.

gigastar:
If thats to be believed then why cant i turn them into a swarm of smart bombs and use those instead of regular bombers?

Did you not read to the end?

Is that a common thing around here?

SamuelT:
Alright. Seriously, every time a new piece of tech is revealed, or anything computer related, the writer goes "OH I HOPE THE ROBOTS DONT KILL US HURR GUYS."

It's getting old, and makes technological advances stale. Stop it already.

You'd like that, wouldn't you sympathizer?

Earnest Cavalli:

gigastar:
If thats to be believed then why cant i turn them into a swarm of smart bombs and use those instead of regular bombers?

Did you not read to the end?

No, evidently i didnt. I meant it in the way of 'Why didnt they do that in the first place?'.

Is that a common thing around here?

Not usually, but someone has to do it eventually.

I quite like the idea of Macros missile massacres and Macros missile counter massacres being launched from aircraft. It would make aerial warfare incredibly spectacular and so expensive all wars would last about a week before evryone just plain ran out of bullets.

But it begs the question, if the aircraft are autonomous, why are they bothering with the launch vehicle in the first place? Just strap'em a hundred to a Polaris and launch them from submarines!

Earnest Cavalli:
Did you not read to the end?
Is that a common thing around here?

Come on Cavalli, you're a contributor, you should know it's pretty much modus operandi round here...

fix-the-spade:

Come on Cavalli, you're a contributor, you should know it's pretty much modus operandi round here...

Well yeah, but I took two years off from the whole "writing about videogames for a living" thing, so I forgot that's how stuff works here.

My fault, please go back to ignoring the awesome jokes and pop culture references I include at the ends of each article.

In a world where single heavily loaded planes are concerned with fighting each other, a cluster of five dozen autonomous drones would be a nightmare.

I'll raise an eyebrow if they can keep the weapon cost below half a million a pop.

This would be pretty cool in a world where air-to-air combat was still relevant.

this is..interesting

I immediately thought of instead of shooting missiles, we shoot these instead
Yo dawg I heard you liked jets...

I'm gonna go ahead and not finish that

I was thinking of flares but this is cool also.
Though,it really draws great resemblance to the WW2 bat bomb project.

so when we will see AIF-9V Ghost's?

Zakarath:
This would be pretty cool in a world where air-to-air combat was still relevant.

The fact that the past few wars basically involved powerful first world countries beating the shit out of air forces using 3rd generation fighters does not render air-to-air combat irrelevant.

awesome but what skills am I going to need to train to use these, and how much drone bay room do they take up?

PS: Sorry couldn't help my self I been craving some eve lately.

I was going to write a treatise on the dusk of old-school dogfighting when my research revealed that despite the ridiculous speeds that warplanes travel, they still engage in dogfights with relative frequency.

It makes me wonder if some kind of newtonian variant of dogfighting will occur in space combat despite the huge arena and speeds based on fractions of C rather than multiples of sound. But then again, now that we're realizing there's background radiation to hide in, there may be stealth in space after all.

Still, what were chafe and flares but decoys specific to the detectors on missiles. How do these decoys differ?

238U

CARRIER HAS ARRIVED

 

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