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Thread: Ousted Air Force chief cites dissension in Pentagon

  1. #21
    Council Member Ron Humphrey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by wm View Post
    I would not disagree with anything said above. However, it is instructive to ask why the Carthaginians, English, Germans, and Egyptians ended up losing. Part of my point was that we are making a mistake to look for a silver bullet from technology. Another part was that having great machines is not much use without having well-trained people to use them and quality leaders to direct their use. And, finally, the logidstics support for any military must be robust enough to meet the demands of combat in a timely manner. Without all of the above, one may view any armed force and ask Pinkley's great question from The Dirty Dozen: "Very pretty Colonel, but can they fight?"
    The more High tech you get the more the enemy will focus on how to unplug, unload, undo what youve done. Their not gonna try to compete, their focused on trying to win (no matter what). We do seem unbelievably able to forget all about that whenever we get on a WOW tech trip.

    We all have those assigned to work on our vehicles, the better the tools we provide them with the more effective they can be. The problem is too often it seems that one side with less tools is at least using mechanics while the other side with all the newest gadgetry is asking its cooks to fix the truck.

    (By the way not a slam on cooks just a somewhat screwy analogy. )
    Any man can destroy that which is around him, The rare man is he who can find beauty even in the darkest hours

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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    Norfolk, don't worry to much Uncle Bob (SEDEF Robert Gates) was a Missile man when he was in the Air Force so he understands what is going on. Air power is guided missiles!!! launched from airframes (any will do) until we get something better. With that in mind it is a bad move to put alot of money in Super Dupper Airframes. Like I have said many times before all you need is a platform to launch a missile. Only the warhead needs to get to the target not the entire airframe Even if we had the money to spend it is a poor choice to risk airframe and pilot over hostile area or air space when all you need is a missile. Many in the Air Force understand this and if Uncle Bob hangs around long enough you may see some of them come to power and you will see a more powerful Air Force that is more useful and costs less. Aviation Week article from 2002 with quotes from Colonel Warden on how Air Force will become 90% Unmanned Combat Air Vehicles....http://www.aviationweek.com/aw/gener...s/aw070854.xml
    I have to disagree with almost everything in this comment. "Airpower" is certainly not guided missiles and no, not any airframe will do. Missiles cannot do everything. There are limitations imposed by the laws of physics (particularly for air-to-ground weapons) that limit the utility of missiles or necessitate the utilization of tactics to employ them properly - tactics which are highly dependent on the capabilities of the airframe. In the Air-to-Air arena, the F-15 and the F-22 can utilize the exact same missiles, yet the F-22 handily beats the F-15 every time despite the fact that all other factors (training, starting positions) are equal. One might suggest, therefore, that airframe capabilities matter.

    As for UCAV's there are many technical hurdles still to go, particularly with the comm link which must be completely secure, redundant and immune to jamming and interference (aircraft falling out of the sky like predators sometimes do is a bad thing). UCAV's would depend on either satellite or LOS comm links which introduce vulnerabilities that manned aircraft do not have. These challenges and others which will go unmentioned probably will be solved at some point, but I don't think the 90% figure is coming anytime soon.

    In my mind (and I would love CAVGUY's opinion on this), making tanks unmanned would be much easier than a fighter aircraft. Without the necessity to protect a four-person crew, an unmanned tank would be smaller , lighter (and hence more deployable), possibly cheaper and expendable. An unmanned fighter would put one less pilot at risk, but an unmanned tank would put four fewer soldiers at risk.

    Fuchs,
    If I was head of the U.S.A.F., I'd much less care about the F-22 than about new, low munition cost (lower than a Stinger shot) battlefield air defenses.
    What is this mystery weapon that you speak of that is cheaper than a Manpad? MANPADS have limitations which is why they are cheap, but even here the AF takes the manpad threat very seriously and continuously upgrades its IR-missile countermeasures - much more than the other services, in fact, except for the special ops aircraft.

    As for your other points, yes fixed targets are very easy to destroy - it's the mobile targets that have been vexing air-to-ground planners for two decades now and is a big reason persistent ISR platforms were originally created. Drones like predator work great in permissive environments, but they cannot operate without air supremacy (See here and here).

    WM,
    When I think of F22s and F35s, why do I have visions of French knights struggling against a hail of English arrows at Crecy, Poitiers or Agincourt? Sometimes the best tech is not hi-tech.
    I'm not sure why you would think that, but then again I think the comparison is fundamentally flawed to begin with.

    I am not disputing the desirabilty of air superiority. However, a "one trick pony" is unlikely to win in the long run. At Poiters, Edward the Black Prince need a detachment of mounted forces to complete the victory and cover the archers when they ran out of arrows.
    Assuming the F-22 is a "one trick pony," which it is not, why is that inherently bad?

    The point I was making with my references to the British victories during the Hundred Years War is that technology, in and of itself is not decisive. The British won because of skilled leadership and tactics.
    That is undoubtedly true in mostinstances to a point, but there comes a time when technology trumps training. Additionally, the argument against having better technology than our adversaries seems to carry the assumption that our side will always have superior training, tactics and leadership.

    Steve,

    People forget sometimes that the majority of aircraft lost over NVN were knocked down by anti-aircraft guns. SAMs drew a great deal of attention, but AA was impossible to jam and could be harder to knock out. And in CAS you can spend a fair amount of time down in the AA zone (unless you're using expensive standoff munitions...something that might not always be possible). While an A-10 can survive multiple hits, I don't think it's really clear that an inherently unstable fly by wire aircraft like the F-22 or F-35 could. And if not, will the AF (and other services) be willing to risk those high-dollar assets for a mission that they're not too crazy about to begin with?
    Today's CAS ain't your daddy's CAS. I don't understand the myth that persists that CAS is something that inherently is best delivered at low altitude from a slow aircraft. One only needs to look at what's currently going on in theater to put that myth to rest. CAS is both more effective and more accurate when delivered from medium altitudes utilizing precision weapons and sensor technology. This is out of the envelope of most AAA and at the edge of the MANPAD threat which is not only safer, but also allows the pilot to to place more concentration on what's happening on the ground.

  3. #23
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    Fuchs,

    What is this mystery weapon that you speak of that is cheaper than a Manpad? MANPADS have limitations which is why they are cheap, but even here the AF takes the manpad threat very seriously and continuously upgrades its IR-missile countermeasures - much more than the other services, in fact, except for the special ops aircraft.
    Starstreak costs much less than a Stinger and has some secondary utility against LAFVs, for example. It's completely immune against known countermeasures (its operator could be deterred with counter fire, though).

    But I thought more of autocannon-based systems like 35/1000 with ABM and RWR/IIR/UV/(LL)TV/LRF-based FC.
    To date there's no system in use in the U.S.Army or U.S.A.F. that is useful against a 5 kg photo recon UAV at 500 m altitude. The marines at least have their 25mm gatling on some LAVs.
    Last edited by Fuchs; 06-26-2008 at 11:32 AM.

  4. #24
    Council Member wm's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ENTROPY
    Quote Originally Posted by WM
    When I think of F22s and F35s, why do I have visions of French knights struggling against a hail of English arrows at Crecy, Poitiers or Agincourt? Sometimes the best tech is not hi-tech.
    I'm not sure why you would think that, but then again I think the comparison is fundamentally flawed to begin with.

    Quote Originally Posted by WM
    I am not disputing the desirabilty of air superiority. However, a "one trick pony" is unlikely to win in the long run. At Poiters, Edward the Black Prince need a detachment of mounted forces to complete the victory and cover the archers when they ran out of arrows.
    Assuming the F-22 is a "one trick pony," which it is not, why is that inherently bad?
    If the 100 Years War analogy isn't appealing, perhaps a better comparison would be the hi-tech ME-262 flying against the mid- to low-tech B-17s of the 8th Air Force. The numbers just weren't quite there for the Luftwaffe to gain victory from its wonder weapon's advantages.

    As to the one trick pony being bad, consider the owner of the carnival where you go see that one trick pony perform. If he doesn't have concession stands, rides, games, and other acts, he's not going to survive very long especially when the crowds leave right after seeing the pony's one trick. Of course, ticket prices could be set pretty high to make some money, but then the size of the crowds will be much lower because a lot of potential customers won't be able to afford the price of admission; this is a short term view that, on its own, has little or no long term sustainability.

    By the way, has the AF resolved the F-22 comms issues yet?

    Quote Originally Posted by l"http://www.defense-update.com/features/2008/may08/F22_datalink_gateway.htm"
    Due to security considerations, the access to information provided by some of the most advanced sensors currently available in theater is highly restricted. For example, intelligence and situational picture generated by F-22 Raptors cannot be transferred to F-15s, F-16 or AWACS even if both units are participating in the same operation. As stealth aircraft, F-22s are not equipped with conventional datalinks such as Link-16 which can be easily spotted by enemy SIGINT. Instead, they use a unique stealth-qualified, narrow-beam Intra-Flight Data-Link (IFDL) designed to relay data and synchronize a situational picture only among the Raptors. As this stealth datalink is incompatible with all other communications devices, Raptors cannot communicate with any friendly aircraft.
    Last edited by wm; 06-26-2008 at 12:52 PM.
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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Entropy wrote:
    I have to disagree with almost everything in this comment. "Airpower" is certainly not guided missiles and no, not any airframe will do. Missiles cannot do everything. There are limitations imposed by the laws of physics (particularly for air-to-ground weapons) that limit the utility of missiles or necessitate the utilization of tactics to employ them properly - tactics which are highly dependent on the capabilities of the airframe. In the Air-to-Air arena, the F-15 and the F-22 can utilize the exact same missiles, yet the F-22 handily beats the F-15 every time despite the fact that all other factors (training, starting positions) are equal. One might suggest, therefore, that airframe capabilities matter.

    As for UCAV's there are many technical hurdles still to go, particularly with the comm link which must be completely secure, redundant and immune to jamming and interference (aircraft falling out of the sky like predators sometimes do is a bad thing). UCAV's would depend on either satellite or LOS comm links which introduce vulnerabilities that manned aircraft do not have. These challenges and others which will go unmentioned probably will be solved at some point, but I don't think the 90% figure is coming anytime soon.

    In my mind (and I would love CAVGUY's opinion on this), making tanks unmanned would be much easier than a fighter aircraft. Without the necessity to protect a four-person crew, an unmanned tank would be smaller , lighter (and hence more deployable), possibly cheaper and expendable. An unmanned fighter would put one less pilot at risk, but an unmanned tank would put four fewer soldiers at risk.


    OK to disagree, I am at my day job now so I will respond in full later.

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    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by slapout9 View Post
    (aircraft falling out of the sky like predators sometimes do is a bad thing)
    That's a feature.
    UAVs don't have a pilot's life at risk, so they can be built cheaper and lighter, with less redundancy of safety-critical components.
    An UAV with a perfect safety record would be a poor design.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    Today's CAS ain't your daddy's CAS. I don't understand the myth that persists that CAS is something that inherently is best delivered at low altitude from a slow aircraft. One only needs to look at what's currently going on in theater to put that myth to rest. CAS is both more effective and more accurate when delivered from medium altitudes utilizing precision weapons and sensor technology. This is out of the envelope of most AAA and at the edge of the MANPAD threat which is not only safer, but also allows the pilot to to place more concentration on what's happening on the ground.
    I understand that....but I also understand that things don't always go as planned. We've run short of munitions before. And there will always be times when a lower approach may be mandated for one reason or another. But...<shrug>
    "On the plains and mountains of the American West, the United States Army had once learned everything there was to learn about hit-and-run tactics and guerrilla warfare."
    T.R. Fehrenbach This Kind of War

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    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    That's a feature.
    UAVs don't have a pilot's life at risk, so they can be built cheaper and lighter, with less redundancy of safety-critical components.
    An UAV with a perfect safety record would be a poor design.

    Exactly! it is the ultimate guided missile. A kamakzie (can not spell plane without the pilot! it can attack any target air ,land or sea. Should be our answer to the suicide bomber.
    Last edited by slapout9; 06-26-2008 at 12:56 PM. Reason: add styff

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    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default That's not an issue, it's a design feature.

    Quote Originally Posted by wm View Post
    By the way, has the AF resolved the F-22 comms issues yet?
    A sensible one at that; Link 16 is too easily intercepted and that's been known for a while. The F-35 (US Version only) will close that loop...

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    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Starstreak costs much less than a Stinger and has some secondary utility against LAFVs, for example. It's completely immune against known countermeasures (its operator could be deterred with counter fire, though).
    Well, starstreak is command guided which does make it immune to most countermeasures, but this has been the case with command-guided systems for decades. Command guidance has its own set of limitations, however.

    That's a feature.
    UAVs don't have a pilot's life at risk, so they can be built cheaper and lighter, with less redundancy of safety-critical components.
    An UAV with a perfect safety record would be a poor design.
    It's not a feature when a potential enemy can exploit vulnerabilities to make all your aircraft fall out of the sky. That was the point I was trying to make. The potential to jam or hack the signal, or destroy the centralized relays (be they satellite or land-based) could eliminate your entire unmanned fleet from the battle. Even temporary disruptions at critical periods could prove disastrous. Those issues are not insignificant and so I don't think we'll be seeing unmanned aircraft in the most important mission areas until they are addressed.

    WM,

    As to the one trick pony being bad, consider the owner of the carnival where you go see that one trick pony perform. If he doesn't have concession stands, rides, games, and other acts, he's not going to survive very long especially when the crowds leave right after seeing the pony's one trick.
    Sure, but no military system operates in a vacuum. There are always "concession stands, rides" etc. that provide mutual support. And often, the creative use of new tactics create new "tricks" for that pony that weren't previously considered.

    The datalink issue is vexing and more complex than first appears and is really the result of the generational differences in aircraft capability. This article has a good rundown on many of the technical issues and I would further note that many of these issues apply in equal measure to transitioning to a large unmanned aircraft fleet (think satellite bandwidth). Also, the article you cite fails to mention that Raptors can receive both link 11 and link 16 - they just cannot transmit - so it's not like the aircraft are completely isolated or dependent on radio calls. Although I don't follow FCS closely, I would not be surprised that it will have similar issues integrating with legacy systems.
    Last edited by Entropy; 06-26-2008 at 03:48 PM.

  11. #31
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    Well, starstreak is command guided which does make it immune to most countermeasures, but this has been the case with command-guided systems for decades. Command guidance has its own set of limitations, however.

    It's not a feature when a potential enemy can exploit vulnerabilities to make all your aircraft fall out of the sky. That was the point I was trying to make. The potential to jam or hack the signal, or destroy the centralized relays (be they satellite or land-based) could eliminate your entire unmanned fleet from the battle.
    Starstreak is NOT command controlled. It is a laser beam rider.
    LBR SAM technology has rarely been applied, only the British and Canadians use such missiles in significant quantities.

    The passive laser sensors face backwards, so there is physically not soft defense possible unless you can blind the operator in the few seconds of flight.

    The time of flight would typically be about five to seven seconds with no UV or IR exhaust trail after one or two seconds, so there's hardly any hard kill chance as well (especially as a single Starstreak launches three darts).



    UAVs are not RC model planes. UAVs can easily return to base and make an automated landing if designed to do so. That ability was possible since the 50's at the latest, probably even in the 40's.
    A well-designed UAV might crash because of component failures (that's when the possible lower redundancy that I mentioned kicks in), but because of a simple loss of radio contact (unless it was designed really stupid or is a very lightweight design of few pounds).

  12. #32
    Council Member slapout9's Avatar
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    Hi Entropy, to continue Colonel Warden wanted to change how Air Force Wings were organized he thought they should be composite wings. More like Army combined arms forces. There would not be any F-16 Wings or F-22 wings there would be combined Aircraft Wings with all differant kinds of aircraft assigned to them in order to acomplish their mission. This would allow newer aircraft to be bought in fewer numbers but would still allow the overall capability of the Wing to still accomplish their mission. To see how this works and how the Army is exploiting it go to John Robb's website and read about ODIN. It is a composite Air wing combined with ground forces and they are giving the bad guys a rough time. John Robb believes this is the future of the Air Force and he may be right about this. Missiles can sustain a lot more G-forces than pilots can so they may not be able to do everything...but then again maybe they can.
    Here is the link.
    http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/
    Last edited by slapout9; 06-26-2008 at 04:59 PM. Reason: add link

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    Default I don't want to get into the weeds, but...

    Starstreak's guidance system is technically a semi-automatic command line of sight (SACLOS) system. The operator has to illuminated the target with the laser, which the individual munitions home in on. This is fundamentally different, and far superior, to beam-rider guidance. Although there is not counter to this weapon currently (beyond tactics like terrain masking, obscurants, ect.), the fact that it relies on a homing sensor and logic means that a countermeasure for it can probably be developed. Regardless, this system is manufactured by a friendly state and is not in the hands of potential enemies, so, for now at least, the point it moot.

    As for UAV's, I think I've lost your point somewhere along the way.

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    Slapout,

    Thanks for your response. The problem with combined wings is maintenance, aircraft support and unit-level training, so it's not realistic to have these wings collocated on a conus base. Even the Navy, which has been doing expeditionary ops for far longer than both the AF and Army, consolidates airframes at one or two bases for maintenance and other reasons while deploying "combined" airwings on carriers. The AF is similar in that individual airframes are organized into expeditionary wings when deployment comes around, but, unlike the Navy, there isn't as much combined coordination and training like a Navy airwing would receive. This allows the Af to be more flexible as far as deployments go, but at the cost of combined training and interoperability. This isn't a huge sacrifice today because the air ops in theater are not all that complex.

    Still, I would like to see the AF adopt the Navy model with administrative wings based on airframe while at the same time belonging to, on a semi-permanent basis, "operational" or "expeditionary" wings which would train and deploy together.

  15. #35
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Entropy View Post
    Starstreak's guidance system is technically a semi-automatic command line of sight (SACLOS) system. The operator has to illuminated the target with the laser, which the individual munitions home in on. This is fundamentally different, and far superior, to beam-rider guidance. Although there is not counter to this weapon currently (beyond tactics like terrain masking, obscurants, ect.), the fact that it relies on a homing sensor and logic means that a countermeasure for it can probably be developed. Regardless, this system is manufactured by a friendly state and is not in the hands of potential enemies, so, for now at least, the point it moot.

    As for UAV's, I think I've lost your point somewhere along the way.
    Starstreak is not semi-active laser-guided.
    It IS a laser beam rider.

    Each dart is guided independently using a double laser beam riding system.
    http://www.army-technology.com/projects/starstreak/

    High precision laser beam riding guidance which
    is immune to all known countermeasures
    Thales' Starstreak HVM product brochure

    Even SACLOS does NOT illuminate the target. Only SAL and SAR guidance does so.

    Repeat: Starstreak = LASER BEAM RIDER
    And it's cheaper than Stinger, btw.

  16. #36
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default He said semi-automatic, not semi active.

    Whatever semi active means...
    Quote Originally Posted by Fuchs View Post
    Starstreak is not semi-active laser-guided.
    It IS a laser beam rider.
    True and the operator has to keep that laser beam on the target, thus the Semi-Automatic Command to Line Of Sight (SACLOS) guidance system that Starstreak uses.
    Repeat: Starstreak = LASER BEAM RIDER
    True, you just left out out the SACLOS.
    And it's cheaper than Stinger, btw.
    Does that measure the effectiveness?

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    Default After further research...

    ...I think Fuch's is correct on this starstreak tangent. Course corrections are not calculated in the launcher and sent to the warheads, so it cannot be a command system. From Jane's:

    At a safe distance from the gunner, the main second-stage rocket motor cuts in to accelerate the missile to an end-of-boost velocity which is in the region of M3 to M4. As the motor burns out, the attenuation in thrust triggers the automatic payload separation of the three darts which, upon clearing the missile body, are independently guided in a fixed formation by their individual onboard guidance systems using the launcher's laser guidance beam.

    The darts ride the laser beam projected by the aiming unit which incorporates two laser diodes, one of which is scanned horizontally and the other vertically to produce the required 2-D information field. Each dart then uses its onboard guidance package to control a set of steerable fins so as to hold its flight formation within this information field. Separation of the darts also initiates arming of the warheads.

    All the operator has to do after the launch is to continue to track the target and maintain the sight aiming mark on it. Maximum effective range is around 7 km which is the maximum distance at which the darts can retain sufficient manoeuvrability and energy to catch and penetrate a modern 9 g manoeuvring target.
    I'm quite amazed, actually, at the amount of misleading and outright wrong information on this system on the internet (wrong information on the internet! Shocking, I know! ).

  18. #38
    Council Member Ken White's Avatar
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    Default It's a beam rider and the beam has to be kept on the

    target; gunner or system derived it's still command directed and line of sight.

    Semantics, admittedly -- really immaterial, too as he acknowledged that the Gunner being blinded would negate the missile as would any significant distraction that caused the Gunner to lose the lock. One wonders at a UAV with a dazzle laser to blind gunners...

    On another irrelevant topic, the US Army does have weapons -- a lot of them -- that are extremely effective against any size air vehicle (other than perhaps an A-10 or SU 25 but to include a 5kg UAV) at 500m. They're all over the place, too...

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    Default Hmmm...

    Quote Originally Posted by Ken White View Post
    On another irrelevant topic, the US Army does have weapons -- a lot of them -- that are extremely effective against any size air vehicle (other than perhaps an A-10 or SU 25 but to include a 5kg UAV) at 500m. They're all over the place, too...
    A ubiquitous Army weapon that can engage at 500m? Whatever could that be!

  20. #40
    Council Member Fuchs's Avatar
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    "Engage" is not enough.
    A small UAV at 500 m altitude moves at the speed of a car and most of it can be penetrated by a bullet without achieving a kill.
    Furthermore, it won't be heard even at night, and even at daylight it would be extremely difficult to spot without dedicated anti-air sensors.
    Manually controlled machine guns are no solution.
    If you disagree; simply double the altitude. That's little challenge for UAV design, but disqualifies machine guns without doubt.

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