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(Ars Technica)   To replace drone strikes, US to give Yemen Hellfire-armed crop dusters. No, this isn't an article from The Onion   (arstechnica.com ) divider line
    More: Scary, Yemen Hellfire, Yemen, aircraft manufacturers, agricultural aircraft, Hellfire missile, targeted killings, crops, reapers  
•       •       •

5197 clicks; posted to Main » on 25 Mar 2014 at 9:26 PM (2 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-03-25 11:45:32 PM  
It is a good lower tech platform for nations that don't have the operating budgets or maintenance infrastructure to handle more advanced weapons systems.  You can hang a decent amount of ordinance off of it and it is easier to train the pilots to fly and utilize them effectively.  Not every nation can or should try and operate 5th or 6th generation fighters.  Yemen isn't going to be going using them against anyone other than the insurgents.  Giving "friendly" governments appropriate tools to deal with their domestic issues is much better than giving them surplus F-16s or something that they can't afford to maintain or pay to operate.

Furthermore, as stated earlier, if there was a change in government, these weapons wouldn't be a huge concern or could be easily dealt with.  It is much better than giving more advanced weapons and then worrying about them being turned against you (Iran after the revolution, Stingers and the Taliban, etc.). If the US is going to arm governments to fight common foes, it is better to use something like this, than other more expensive and ultimately less useful options.
 
2014-03-25 11:47:24 PM  

DarkSoulNoHope: hardinparamedic: vossiewulf: Seems more than a little unlikely that the you could replace the effectiveness of US drones with two dudes putting about in a crop duster that is loud and obvious and slow and easily taken down by anything bigger than 7.62mm.

Cheaper, requires less infrastructure, and is less politically damaging.

Plus the moral implications of fairness, at least the people on the ground have a chance at shooting down the plane and killing inside the people who are trying to kill them, unlike drones where you could shoot one down and the experienced person flying it is safely out of dodge.


i69.photobucket.com
 
2014-03-25 11:58:53 PM  
Plus, they look about as badass as a civvy plane can get, and when/if peace suddenly breaks out again, hey! They've got some cropdusters to use, should they try to grow crops or something. Ya never know...
 
2014-03-26 01:41:56 AM  

Tobin_Lam: Fat Man Of La Mancha: So let's see, an Air Tractor AT-802U has a service altitude of 25,000 feet and a wing span of 59 feet. Lets say it's cruising at 20,000 feet and replace it with a 60 foot circle (a ufo if you will) at that distance it would cover about 0.172 degrees in the sky if I'm doing my math right which is less than 3/16 of a degree (assuming it's directly overhead showing the greatest exposure). For reference the sun and moon are about 1/2 a degree which is around the width of your thumb held at arms length. It's cruising speed is also 185 mph according to wikipedia.

I think it might be a little difficult to shoot it down with a sandy AK-47 clone. No idea if a shoulder mounted infared tracking missle can track a turboprop or even if these groups would have such a thing.

WTF are you doing trying to shoot down anything at 20,000 with an AK-47?! This thing is going to be zooming past at extremely low altitudes faster than you can track.


These planes will be used to replace unmanned drones, it should be assumed they would be used in the same manner. Flying at a high altitudes to surveil for long periods of time, using the same missles found on UAV's. Why would they need to fly in fast and low when they have tracking missles?
 
2014-03-26 04:08:30 AM  

BigLuca: ftfa:  According to documents obtained by Buzzfeed's Aram Roston, the US will provide a squadron of 10 aircraft originally designed as crop dusters, which are now equipped for a wholly different sort of reaping.

In addition to reaping they are good at sight seeing, search and rescue, intelligence gathering, and reaping.


You said reap twice.
 
2014-03-26 05:50:16 AM  

DarkSoulNoHope: hardinparamedic: vossiewulf: Seems more than a little unlikely that the you could replace the effectiveness of US drones with two dudes putting about in a crop duster that is loud and obvious and slow and easily taken down by anything bigger than 7.62mm.

Cheaper, requires less infrastructure, and is less politically damaging.

Plus the moral implications of fairness, at least the people on the ground have a chance at shooting down the plane and killing inside the people who are trying to kill them, unlike drones where you could shoot one down and the experienced person flying it is safely out of dodge.


When Al Qaeda starts worrying about "fairness" then I will. Wait, no, I won't. A fair war is a long, bloody, more destructive war that kills more. It's nothing even remotely "moral".
 
2014-03-26 05:55:52 AM  

yagottabefarkinkiddinme: Wasn't one of the primary fears after 9/11 that crop dusters would be used against us? Now we will train people over there to fly crop dusters.  Armed crop dusters. No way this could ever come back to bite us in the ass.

Brilliant.


Considering that we're removing the part of the planes which would cause actual concern - the ability to spread chemical or biological weapons - how do you see this causing a problem? Particularly compared to the US selling actual fighter aircraft to petty dictators and unstable governments the world over?
 
2014-03-26 07:22:23 AM  
A very elegant solution to political problems that does nothing at all to improve the actual situation on the ground.  Pretty much like every other aspect of the War on Terror™.
 
2014-03-26 08:39:13 AM  

LowbrowDeluxe: BigLuca: ftfa:  According to documents obtained by Buzzfeed's Aram Roston, the US will provide a squadron of 10 aircraft originally designed as crop dusters, which are now equipped for a wholly different sort of reaping.

In addition to reaping they are good at sight seeing, search and rescue, intelligence gathering, and reaping.

You said reap twice.


He likes reap.
 
2014-03-26 09:02:13 AM  
I have the strangest chubby right now...

/ former fighter pilot.
 
2014-03-26 11:59:24 AM  

Fat Man Of La Mancha: Tobin_Lam: Fat Man Of La Mancha: So let's see, an Air Tractor AT-802U has a service altitude of 25,000 feet and a wing span of 59 feet. Lets say it's cruising at 20,000 feet and replace it with a 60 foot circle (a ufo if you will) at that distance it would cover about 0.172 degrees in the sky if I'm doing my math right which is less than 3/16 of a degree (assuming it's directly overhead showing the greatest exposure). For reference the sun and moon are about 1/2 a degree which is around the width of your thumb held at arms length. It's cruising speed is also 185 mph according to wikipedia.

I think it might be a little difficult to shoot it down with a sandy AK-47 clone. No idea if a shoulder mounted infared tracking missle can track a turboprop or even if these groups would have such a thing.

WTF are you doing trying to shoot down anything at 20,000 with an AK-47?! This thing is going to be zooming past at extremely low altitudes faster than you can track.

These planes will be used to replace unmanned drones, it should be assumed they would be used in the same manner. Flying at a high altitudes to surveil for long periods of time, using the same missles found on UAV's. Why would they need to fly in fast and low when they have tracking missles?


Drones fly high and loiter because they don't have pilots physically present and that is how they are designed. A 50-cal isn't effective at 20,000 feet, either. These aircraft are not designed to fly at high altitudes. The only time they fly at even moderate altitudes is when they aren't doing their job.
 
2014-03-26 03:42:35 PM  

Tobin_Lam: Fat Man Of La Mancha: Tobin_Lam: Fat Man Of La Mancha: So let's see, an Air Tractor AT-802U has a service altitude of 25,000 feet and a wing span of 59 feet. Lets say it's cruising at 20,000 feet and replace it with a 60 foot circle (a ufo if you will) at that distance it would cover about 0.172 degrees in the sky if I'm doing my math right which is less than 3/16 of a degree (assuming it's directly overhead showing the greatest exposure). For reference the sun and moon are about 1/2 a degree which is around the width of your thumb held at arms length. It's cruising speed is also 185 mph according to wikipedia.

I think it might be a little difficult to shoot it down with a sandy AK-47 clone. No idea if a shoulder mounted infared tracking missle can track a turboprop or even if these groups would have such a thing.

WTF are you doing trying to shoot down anything at 20,000 with an AK-47?! This thing is going to be zooming past at extremely low altitudes faster than you can track.

These planes will be used to replace unmanned drones, it should be assumed they would be used in the same manner. Flying at a high altitudes to surveil for long periods of time, using the same missles found on UAV's. Why would they need to fly in fast and low when they have tracking missles?

Drones fly high and loiter because they don't have pilots physically present and that is how they are designed. A 50-cal isn't effective at 20,000 feet, either. These aircraft are not designed to fly at high altitudes. The only time they fly at even moderate altitudes is when they aren't doing their job.


The article states they will have a tech/ sensor package with the capablity of firing hellfire and laser guided missles plus the capability of mounting .50 cal machine guns. Why would they swop in low to kill someone with machine guns when they have missles? Wikipedia states these planes have over 10 times the horsepower as the drone they replace (similar to what you'd find on a ww2 fighter plane), the same 25000ft service ceilling, and a 10 hr endurance time divided between a crew of two. This ain't just some biplane with a 50 cal mounted in the back.
 
2014-03-26 03:55:49 PM  
There is precedent from WWII China theatre and later in Korea and Vietnam; putting a "local" in a multi-seater, nominally as the PIC, but really as an observer, while the U.S. crew did the deeds.
 
2014-03-26 05:10:48 PM  

Fat Man Of La Mancha: Tobin_Lam: Fat Man Of La Mancha: Tobin_Lam: Fat Man Of La Mancha: So let's see, an Air Tractor AT-802U has a service altitude of 25,000 feet and a wing span of 59 feet. Lets say it's cruising at 20,000 feet and replace it with a 60 foot circle (a ufo if you will) at that distance it would cover about 0.172 degrees in the sky if I'm doing my math right which is less than 3/16 of a degree (assuming it's directly overhead showing the greatest exposure). For reference the sun and moon are about 1/2 a degree which is around the width of your thumb held at arms length. It's cruising speed is also 185 mph according to wikipedia.

I think it might be a little difficult to shoot it down with a sandy AK-47 clone. No idea if a shoulder mounted infared tracking missle can track a turboprop or even if these groups would have such a thing.

WTF are you doing trying to shoot down anything at 20,000 with an AK-47?! This thing is going to be zooming past at extremely low altitudes faster than you can track.

These planes will be used to replace unmanned drones, it should be assumed they would be used in the same manner. Flying at a high altitudes to surveil for long periods of time, using the same missles found on UAV's. Why would they need to fly in fast and low when they have tracking missles?

Drones fly high and loiter because they don't have pilots physically present and that is how they are designed. A 50-cal isn't effective at 20,000 feet, either. These aircraft are not designed to fly at high altitudes. The only time they fly at even moderate altitudes is when they aren't doing their job.

The article states they will have a tech/ sensor package with the capablity of firing hellfire and laser guided missles plus the capability of mounting .50 cal machine guns. Why would they swop in low to kill someone with machine guns when they have missles? Wikipedia states these planes have over 10 times the horsepower as the drone they replace (similar to what you'd find on a ww2 fig ...


You're confusing capability with intent. Just because it can doesn't mean it will. Why would they swop in low to kill someone with machine guns when they have missles? Why have a machine gun when you have missiles? For the times when you don't actually have missiles, of course. What it boils down to is, when you replace one system with another system, the mission profile is not going to be the same. Yes, it will replace drones but it won't necesarily fly missions just like drones. I don't understand why you would assume it will fly just like a drone. What drones carry machine guns and armor? It is quite obvious from those two requirements that these planes are expected to be shot at and to shoot back.
 
2014-03-26 05:50:30 PM  
So it is like dusting crops, boy.
 
2014-03-26 10:00:59 PM  

Tobin_Lam: Fat Man Of La Mancha: Tobin_Lam: Fat Man Of La Mancha: Tobin_Lam: Fat Man Of La Mancha: So let's see, an Air Tractor AT-802U has a service altitude of 25,000 feet and a wing span of 59 feet. Lets say it's cruising at 20,000 feet and replace it with a 60 foot circle (a ufo if you will) at that distance it would cover about 0.172 degrees in the sky if I'm doing my math right which is less than 3/16 of a degree (assuming it's directly overhead showing the greatest exposure). For reference the sun and moon are about 1/2 a degree which is around the width of your thumb held at arms length. It's cruising speed is also 185 mph according to wikipedia.

I think it might be a little difficult to shoot it down with a sandy AK-47 clone. No idea if a shoulder mounted infared tracking missle can track a turboprop or even if these groups would have such a thing.

WTF are you doing trying to shoot down anything at 20,000 with an AK-47?! This thing is going to be zooming past at extremely low altitudes faster than you can track.

These planes will be used to replace unmanned drones, it should be assumed they would be used in the same manner. Flying at a high altitudes to surveil for long periods of time, using the same missles found on UAV's. Why would they need to fly in fast and low when they have tracking missles?

Drones fly high and loiter because they don't have pilots physically present and that is how they are designed. A 50-cal isn't effective at 20,000 feet, either. These aircraft are not designed to fly at high altitudes. The only time they fly at even moderate altitudes is when they aren't doing their job.

The article states they will have a tech/ sensor package with the capablity of firing hellfire and laser guided missles plus the capability of mounting .50 cal machine guns. Why would they swop in low to kill someone with machine guns when they have missles? Wikipedia states these planes have over 10 times the horsepower as the drone they replace (similar to what y ...


But why wouldn't they take into account capabilities when planing missions? The memo linked in the article states the planes will be able to loiter over 7 hours and record for 8 with the second airmen also able to fly the plane if need be. Of course it has armor, it's a manned military plane that will fly mission with the chance of being shot at, not because they expect it to do strafing runs but for insurance. In the list of munition requirement for the plane it list carrying a 50 cal at the bottom, lower than carrying Hellfires, gbu-12, gbu-58, 2.75 LGR; all guided smart bombs. Sounds like they want to use them in a similar manner as drones, I'm sure if the mission parameters dictate they need to use the 50 cal they would, but the only scenarios I imagine would need it are for ground support but then isn't the whole point of using UAVs that these planes will replace was to keep us (them) from dedicating ground troops for what could end up as wild goose chases.
 
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