Plug And Play In War

Foxbat

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Thought this was interesting. Lockheed Martin initially resisted Israeli requests to allow modification of the F35A to use existing Israeli Air Force electronic warfare systems. Apparently, it's now happening with IAF receiving two F35As (redesignated F35I) and will install plug and play features regarding their own systems. I just thought it strange that a seemingly benign term in computing now takes on a darker complexion.

 

CupofJoe

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That will be great until some loses the wifi password...
It was a bit of a shock [but maybe no surprise] that there is no ignition key or manual mechanical action needed to start an F35. You just have to be an authorised user and login. If that doesn't work apparently you have to do the three fingered salute and reboot it.
I now have the image of a Pilot trying to hit F1 as the Plane reboots so they can reset the date and get it's engine online...
 

Foxbat

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Apparently the F35 is impossible to fly without computer aids because hundreds of adjustments are made every second. I'm sure I read somewhere that many modern fighters are deliberately designed to be aerodynamically unstable because it makes them more agile (and hence the need for computer controland constant adjustment). The forward swept wing concept touted a few years back has still not become a reality, but this too is for reasons of agility.

British test pilots have said the F35B is a joy to fly whereas the Harrier (which it is replacing) was a very capable aircraft but very difficult to fly.
 

CupofJoe

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The same goes for modern airliners, but there it is because the computers can [usually] fly better [aka more efficiently] than a human pilot. In the 80s I remember seeing the first fly-by-wire Airbus at a Farnborough Airshow. It did a take off and a turn so slowly that there were gasps from the crowd at how slow and steep it was flying.
From what I've read, the forward swept wing has serious stealth problems [don't remember what exactly] and that computer control gave them the added agility without the hassle. [and IMHO the forward swept wing looked silly but still better than the oblique wing.]
Recently I saw that people have been debating self-driving cars on this site. I think fully autonomous large scale aircraft are more likely and sooner, if they aren't already here. The British, American, Russian, Chinese and Israeli military all have full UAV programmes [and probably a lot of other countries that we don't know about].
I can believe that... Back in the day again, a friend of a friend dated a Harrier pilot. I can remember him saying he loved how it flew but hated flying it...
 

Foxbat

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Oblique wings are certainly an acquired taste aesthetically (one that I haven't acquired yet).

Another thing about computers and the F35...it has to be remembered that it's not just a fighter/bomber but a command and control centre. It's been designed with the capability of one F35 controlling a number of drones- effectively multiplying its strike capability condiderably.

It's one helluva piece of kit in my opinion:)
 

Dave

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I'm sure I read somewhere that many modern fighters are deliberately designed to be aerodynamically unstable because it makes them more agile (and hence the need for computer controland constant adjustment).
That is very interesting. I didn't know that before but my guess is that if every fighter flew under computer control then they would be very predictable by another computer designed to mimic the same commands. To avoid being shot down by an enemy that knows precisely what you will do next, you need to add some irregularity or chaos into the system to make the movement more random and unpredictable and to be much more like a natural system. It is clever because the aerodynamic instability can never be replicated by another computer due to the stochastic nature of natural processes.

Our reliance on computers in other areas - stock market, betting odds - needs to follow this example.
 

CupofJoe

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Oblique wings are certainly an acquired taste aesthetically (one that I haven't acquired yet).

Another thing about computers and the F35...it has to be remembered that it's not just a fighter/bomber but a command and control centre. It's been designed with the capability of one F35 controlling a number of drones- effectively multiplying its strike capability condiderably.
I read that as "easier to hack", but I'm old-school and still miss Pagers and Telex machines.
I view wifi and any system like that like Kirk viewed Klingons... "I've never trusted them and I never will..." ;)
Go straight to AI bases UAVs and leave the pilots at home...
It's one helluva piece of kit in my opinion:)
I don't disagree but for the price it's costing it had better be.
Maybe I'd like it more if it looked prettier.
The vertical fan behind the cockpit make it look fat and heavy to my eye. For me the F22 looks great and even the Typhoon look prettier [but the English Electric Lightening is still the prettiest ugly plane I know].
There is a great documentary/love poem to the Spitfire on BBC iPlayer. Now that is what a fighter should look like"
 

Vertigo

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That is very interesting. I didn't know that before but my guess is that if every fighter flew under computer control then they would be very predictable by another computer designed to mimic the same commands. To avoid being shot down by an enemy that knows precisely what you will do next, you need to add some irregularity or chaos into the system to make the movement more random and unpredictable and to be much more like a natural system. It is clever because the aerodynamic instability can never be replicated by another computer due to the stochastic nature of natural processes.

Our reliance on computers in other areas - stock market, betting odds - needs to follow this example.
The "computer control" here isn't in terms of the actual flying choices it is purely in terms of managing the aircraft control surfaces which, in modern fighter aircraft, have to be constantly adjusted otherwise the aircraft would immediately start tumbling and tear itself apart. This designed in instability improves the responsiveness and agility of the aircraft but literally makes it impossible to fly manually with human speed reactions. The computer is not taking decisions about when and how to take evasive actions and such like; that is still the pilot's task. As I understand it the pilot still controls the aircraft in the normal way with controls that look and feel perfectly normal but the computer interprets those controls and applies them with all the necessary continuous adjustments rather than the pilot being directly in control of the ailerons, rudders etc.
 

Vladd67

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I read that as "easier to hack", but I'm old-school and still miss Pagers and Telex machines.
I view wifi and any system like that like Kirk viewed Klingons... "I've never trusted them and I never will..." ;)
Go straight to AI bases UAVs and leave the pilots at home...

I don't disagree but for the price it's costing it had better be.
Maybe I'd like it more if it looked prettier.
The vertical fan behind the cockpit make it look fat and heavy to my eye. For me the F22 looks great and even the Typhoon look prettier [but the English Electric Lightening is still the prettiest ugly plane I know].
There is a great documentary/love poem to the Spitfire on BBC iPlayer. Now that is what a fighter should look like"
I prefer the Vampire to the Lightening, and underrated aircraft in use from 1946 to 1979.
 

CupofJoe

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I prefer the Vampire to the Lightening, and underrated aircraft in use from 1946 to 1979.
Very true. I thought the Vampire almost pretty flying [I can remember the RFA display team which was a Vampire and a Meteor in the early 80s].
But the Lightning was just a little bit more ugly and by the Gods it was LOUD! Got to stand next to a runway [50 ft away?] as one took off.
COULD NOT HEAR FOR DAYS
Only the Vulcan or Concorde came close.
 

Robert Zwilling

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The computer controlled flight programs in military planes have built in safe guards to stop the computers from crashing the plane. Boeing had extensive experience with their tanker aircraft used for aerial refueling. They did not put these safeguards in their max plane. Probably would have worked a lot better than it did if they had. Perhaps the technology is kept under wraps for security reasons. That could mean that the transference of military technology to civilian uses might not be as safe as it actually is.

When the US Navy ran their first public tests of the computer assisted war ships, there were a couple of instances where the ships were basically dead in the water while they were rebooting computers. Since then there has been no more news of those kinds of problems. Either the problems were fixed, perhaps by over lapping programs so not everything for a program gets rebooted at the same time, or maybe they just stopped publicizing that kind of news.

Putting computerized weapons in military equipment is far from new, but there was a big difference. In the old days a human aimed the weapon and told it when to fire, the rest of the process was automated. Now the human simply okays what the computer wants to do. Since everyone is using the same setup, the fact that the equipment is easier to disable by battle damage than it used to be, means everyone has the same disadvantage. Putting people back into the equation by hooking them directly up to the equipment is probably where the next real advancements will be made. Otherwise, humans will be redundant and not needed, which could make it far easier for said equipment to turn on humans in an purposeful, targeted fashion.
 

Dave

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The "computer control" here isn't in terms of the actual flying choices it is purely in terms of managing the aircraft control surfaces...
So, I'm barking up the wrong tree? [Damn that cliché thread. I can't stop using them now.]
Or, would it still make the aircraft movements more unpredictable?
 

Robert Zwilling

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Sounds like the right tree.
If the pilots action to avoid being shot down can also cause the plane to crash, then anything including managing control surfaces supplied by the computer, is happening after the pilot decides what is going to happen, including unpredictable moves. Maybe something that can successfully fix potentially fatal moves can makes those moves more unpredictable.
 

Vladd67

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The computer controlled flight programs in military planes have built in safe guards to stop the computers from crashing the plane. Boeing had extensive experience with their tanker aircraft used for aerial refueling. They did not put these safeguards in their max plane. Probably would have worked a lot better than it did if they had. Perhaps the technology is kept under wraps for security reasons. That could mean that the transference of military technology to civilian uses might not be as safe as it actually is.

When the US Navy ran their first public tests of the computer assisted war ships, there were a couple of instances where the ships were basically dead in the water while they were rebooting computers. Since then there has been no more news of those kinds of problems. Either the problems were fixed, perhaps by over lapping programs so not everything for a program gets rebooted at the same time, or maybe they just stopped publicizing that kind of news.

Putting computerized weapons in military equipment is far from new, but there was a big difference. In the old days a human aimed the weapon and told it when to fire, the rest of the process was automated. Now the human simply okays what the computer wants to do. Since everyone is using the same setup, the fact that the equipment is easier to disable by battle damage than it used to be, means everyone has the same disadvantage. Putting people back into the equation by hooking them directly up to the equipment is probably where the next real advancements will be made. Otherwise, humans will be redundant and not needed, which could make it far easier for said equipment to turn on humans in an purposeful, targeted fashion.
Have you seen this?
 

Robert Zwilling

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Remembering how strange the ship accidents were, seeing what happened makes a whole lot of sense. I totally agree with the Navy take on replacing touch screens with mechanical controls. The funny part is that the control is still digital, it just has a physical button to control it.

I can just see it, ship pitching to and fro almost leaning completely over in the midst of a storm, and there is the touch control screen with so much water on it you can't see anything on the screen, let along hang on to it. Just plain stupidity by people who who think anything they can make digital is a dollar in their pocket and that's all that matters. Eliminates physical hardware, cuts the cost.

The fact that the sailors could operate the ships controls from more than one station and not know that was happening is just plain arrogance on the part of the designers of the equipment. Of course it doesn't help that the navy can't design it's own controls so it lets the designers do everything. Perhaps the reason why there is no idiot light that tells the operators more than one station is controlling the ship at each station is because the designers would be insulted to think that their equipment needed idiot lights in the first place.

All of this dribbles down to people in cars, pushing around a couple of thousand pounds with plenty of momentum to amplify a simple mistake when a finger slides just a little too far. Putting touch screen controls in a car is daring the driver to play Russian roulette without telling them that's what they are playing. It's all so nice until an emergency happens, then it's too late. You can operate physical buttons without seeing them. It's much harder to operate a virtual button embedded inside a screen without glancing at it.

Why Touch Screens In A Car Suck
 

Dave

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All of this dribbles down to people in cars, pushing around a couple of thousand pounds with plenty of momentum to amplify a simple mistake when a finger slides just a little too far.
However, cars and road vehicles will have anti-collision, over-rides that will cut in and automatically slow down the vehicle, preventing impact. (It would be a bit hard to have that in ships or aircraft.) Most road vehicles will become self-driving in the future. It makes better use of the road space. Stop-start traffic jams are not only very environmentally unfriendly, but also add time to your journey. Far better that the vehicles all travel continuously at a slow speed, but people won't do that willingly; they don't obey the variable speed limits set for that purpose.

I'm old enough to remember driving on a UK motorway, putting your foot on the accelerator, and never seeing another car ahead for miles and miles. Sigh! Now, the M25 is a car park. Sorry, for the slight derail.
 

Vertigo

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So, I'm barking up the wrong tree? [Damn that cliché thread. I can't stop using them now.]
Or, would it still make the aircraft movements more unpredictable?
It would in no way make movement predictable. The computer control is only what might be described as micro adjustments, continuously happening and they shouldn't even be detectable as 'movement' by the pilot. Think about riding a bicycle; when you first learn it is very hard to maintain balance and remain stable. Like our modern fighter aircraft the bicycle is inherently unstable; left to its own devices it will just fall over. But once you learn to ride it you are actually unconsciously making continual adjustments to your balance to compensate for small irregularities in the road surface etc. These adjustments do not effect the larger movement of the bicycle, how and when you turn a corner for example, and so would not give any clues as to your next manoeuvre to an observer. A similar argument could be made for walking and running which are actually just continuously corrected falling! You can't push that analogy too far but maybe it will give you an idea of what's going on.

A 'normal' stable aircraft will respond to controls in a steady predictable manner but this steadiness makes it slow to manoeuvre. A modern agile fighter will respond to controls extremely quickly so the slightest adjustment is likely to send it into a spin. The speed at which this can happen is faster than a human pilot can react so to prevent that the computer is continuously adjusting the actual control surfaces to achieve the action extremely quickly but still maintaining stability.

From a military perspective the main weakness of this system is that a single hit on the computer would result in the almost instant destruction of aircraft and pilot. So the Typhoon for example has, I believe, triple redundancy with three independent computers situated in different parts of the aircraft.
 

CupofJoe

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There are people out there developing haptic touch screens. These are touch screens that feel like they have discrete buttons. No idea on how it works technically [aka I haven't been interested enough to do a google search] but the demo I saw was setting a sat-nav and never actually touching the screen.
We got to play with a haptic "Virtual" stop button [if you tried to slap the screen with you palm, a "stop" button appeared under you hand and turned off the equipment before you hit the screen]. It was just one big button across the whole screen, but you could feel the button if you tried to slap the screen but not if you tried to touch it. It was impressive. And slightly freaky...
I'm old enough to remember driving on a UK motorway, putting your foot on the accelerator, and never seeing another car ahead for miles and miles. Sigh! Now, the M25 is a car park. Sorry, for the slight derail.
Never felt motivated to do "The London Loop"?
Apparently the [very unofficial and definitely illegal] lap record for the [120 mile?] M25 is a little under an hour.
 

KiraAnn

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Plug n Play is not really a new concept in military markets. A German ship builder back in the 60’s was building small warships like that, although they called it “modular”. Might have been Blum und Voss. The design was called MEKO. Weapons systems and electronic systems had differing options for the ordering countries.
 
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