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Automatic Cannon Equipped Close Air Support Drone

Flown in groups would be very dangerous to shoot at
  (+6, -2)
(+6, -2)
  [vote for,

A group of 5 to 10 of these things would completely control the battlefield like no weapon before it. Being un-manned they could go lower and slower than you'ld go with a manned craft therefore being more accurate in their targeting.

The lower cost would let you have several aircraft supporting each other so if somebody shot at one drone, 5 others would open fire on that position.

The M230, the gun that's mounted on the AH-64 Apache is only 120 pounds. Add a couple of hundred more for ammo and a drone with the lift capacity of a small Cessna would do just fine.

With the addition of a couple of Hellfire missiles this would be an unstoppable weapon system.

Time to let robots and un-manned vehicles do the fighting.

doctorremulac3, Aug 08 2014

M230 http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/M230
Noisy but nice [8th of 7, Aug 09 2014]

Pick your weapon http://www.armada.c...apons-killer-drone/
No shortage of ground attack weapons. [MechE, Aug 09 2014]

Watch from 18:00 on. https://www.youtube...watch?v=juUJdzFFORs
You gonna do this with missiles? [doctorremulac3, Aug 11 2014]

A10 Run https://www.youtube...watch?v=D0PgPK67jwc
[bs0u0155, Aug 11 2014]

Guided Bullets http://www.darpa.mi...es/2014/07/10a.aspx
[bs0u0155, Aug 11 2014]

The SABER small air bomb extended range (SABER) from MBDA http://defense-upda...d.html#.U-oqzBZDExI
[doctorremulac3, Aug 12 2014]

Lockheed's Shadow Hawk http://defense-upda...dow_hawk_weapon.jpg
[doctorremulac3, Aug 12 2014]

Raytheon Pyros http://www.raytheon...sset/rtn_191810.jpg
[doctorremulac3, Aug 12 2014]

81MM Air Dropped Mortar http://www.gd-ots.com/81mm_ADM.html
[doctorremulac3, Aug 12 2014]

30 mm cannon ammo http://www.army.mod...ry_03_502x335-1.jpg
[doctorremulac3, Aug 12 2014]

Minigun and ammo http://www.epicycle...images/minigun2.jpg
[doctorremulac3, Aug 12 2014]

Rough mockup https://www.dropbox...20UAV%20Gunship.png
Gave it a catchy name too. [doctorremulac3, Aug 12 2014]

I'll have to kill you https://www.youtube...zCAOUlF-nAg&t=2m50s
Stupid Zvika Kalron trying to impress Simon Ostrowski [pashute, Aug 14 2014]

Sharlene - the Russian drone https://www.youtube...watch?v=SNPJMk2fgJU
[pashute, Aug 14 2014]

I got some good stuff here! https://www.youtube...watch?v=NFQ2x-CeA2E
[pashute, Aug 14 2014]

Jet powered drone http://en.wikipedia...an_RQ-4_Global_Hawk
[doctorremulac3, Aug 15 2014]

Jet powered drone http://en.wikipedia...ral_Atomics_Avenger
[doctorremulac3, Aug 15 2014]

Jet powered drone http://en.wikipedia...tin_RQ-170_Sentinel
[doctorremulac3, Aug 15 2014]

Jet powered drone http://en.wikipedia.../wiki/MBLE_Épervier
[doctorremulac3, Aug 15 2014]

Jet powered drone http://en.wikipedia...iki/Dassault_nEUROn
[doctorremulac3, Aug 15 2014]

Etc.. http://en.wikipedia...iki/Lavochkin_La-17
[doctorremulac3, Aug 15 2014]

...etc... http://en.wikipedia...i/Novel_Air_Concept
[doctorremulac3, Aug 15 2014]

...etc. http://en.wikipedia.../wiki/Lockheed_D-21
[doctorremulac3, Aug 15 2014]

Paintball sentry robot http://projectsentr...ii-paintball-turret
Killbots exist. [bungston, Oct 04 2014]


       So the entire idea is to put a cannon on UAVs? Since the Predator series already carry hellfire and smaller missiles, and are being used in a close air support role.
MechE, Aug 09 2014

       Right, that's the idea in its entirety.   

       //the Predator series already carry hellfire and smaller missiles//   

       Which would be appropriate criticism if I said "Missile equipped Close Air Support Drone"   

       Our current close air support vehicles, the A10 and Apache carry automatic cannon for a very good reason. Seems like our drones should too.
doctorremulac3, Aug 09 2014

       The point is they are already filling that role with their current weapons mix. Therefore, it comes down to whether no one has thought of mounting a cannon, it is impractical to do so, or there is no advantage in doing so.   

       While it hasn't been tested (to the best of my knowledge) there doesn't seem to be a reason you couldn't mount a GPU-2/A gun pod on a MQ-9 Reaper, it certainly has the load capacity and the hard points. The fact it isn't being done suggests that it's not worth the effort.
MechE, Aug 09 2014

       So ask any A-10 or Apache pilot why they need an automatic cannon when they already have missiles. No difference, manned or unmanned, the job is the same. The same job should have the same tools.   

       You have 20 combatants spread out around the battlefield. You gonna shoot a Hellfire at each guy?
doctorremulac3, Aug 09 2014

       That was the first idea. Mech really hated that one.
doctorremulac3, Aug 09 2014

       //The M230, the gun that's mounted on the AH-64 Apache is only 120 pounds. Add a couple of hundred more for ammo and a drone with the lift capacity of a small Cessna would do just fine. //   

       ... except for the recoil.   

       The rearward forces are considerable. A-10's lose a significant amount of airspeed when they fire their cannon. If your proposed drone is already flying "low and slow", that means a big wing area, which in turn means "Large Slow Target".   

       The relative invulnerability of drones is conferred by (amongst other factors) presenting a combination of relatively small target area and high speed.   

       When a missile detaches, there's very little thrust on the airframe, just a change in drag and trim. Not so with firing a cannon.
8th of 7, Aug 09 2014

       Even the most sophisticated automated reloader would have difficult to not get the black powder blown away when reloading the 12 pounder in flight, not to mention the wadding. Better off just to hire a couple of pirates.
not_morrison_rm, Aug 09 2014

       The M230's a 30mm, 625 rpm.   

8th of 7, Aug 09 2014

       8th, totally true and a very legitimate point.   

       My solution is the recoil cancelling cannon. It's got twice the explosive and shoots out both ends. The front firing mass is the round, the rear firing mass is water that blows out the back as steam.   

       I'll post that idea later when I get a minute for its well deserved flogging. For instance, those big clouds of steam would make it easier to see which is a drawback.   

       You could also just have a regular recoilless gun with rocket propelled rounds. Or substitute sand instead of water and make sure the back of the gun isn't pointing at the drone.
doctorremulac3, Aug 09 2014

       //You have 20 combatants spread out around the battlefield. You gonna shoot a Hellfire at each guy?//   

       Again, not me. If there were an advantage to this, it would be being done. I suspect the issue is target discrimination. Alternatively, drones are relatively fragile (a trade-off for payload and low cost and stealth), whereas the A-10 is deliberately designed to shrug off absurd amounts of small arms fire.   

       And no, you aren't going to shoot a hellfire at each one, you're going to drop down to a griffin, a a hydra (well APKWS, the updated guided version), or a viper strike, or a spike, or one of several different guided small payload bombs. That's very specifically what they are designed for.
MechE, Aug 09 2014

       So if you've got 20 combatants well spread out on the battlefield, you're suggesting shooting an individual missile at each man?   

       Let me ask you this. Why do they put guns on Apache helicopters? These things carry 4 racks of missiles, so what's the gun for?
doctorremulac3, Aug 09 2014

       Again, not me. There is absolutely no reason you can't mount a GPU-2/A gun pod on a drone. It's not being done.   

       And yes, if your munition costs $1000 each (current unit price for the hydra, admittedly all of the guided versions are a little higher), one rocket for one enemy fighter is not unreasonable. You'd probably run through that much in ammunition from a mini-gun, let alone a cannon. Especially if the drone can carry 4 pods of 17 of them (no clue if they do, they highest count I've actually seen is 2 pods of 4).
MechE, Aug 09 2014

       I'm sorry if I was unclear on the question.   

       Why have a gun on a ground attack vehicle?
doctorremulac3, Aug 09 2014

       I'm not debating that there is advantage to having a gun on manned ground attack aircraft.   

       My counter question is: The equipment exists to mount a gun pod on a drone. If there is an advantage to doing so, why is no one doing it?
MechE, Aug 09 2014

       As stated before several times, recoil. See proposed solution. (link)
doctorremulac3, Aug 09 2014

       An MQ-9 Reaper weighs about the same as a A-37 (essentially that armed cessna you mentioned) which can mount the gun pod I've mentioned. Recoil is not the issue.   

       Ground attack aircraft with cannon are heavily armored against small arms fire. This means they can fly low and slow to pick out targets. Drones are lightly armored in order to maximize range, payload, and stealth/low RCS. That means someone with a rifle can take one out if it ventures in range.   

       Manned aircraft are big, expensive, mission limited, and spend much of their time cycling to and from the airfield. That means that it's useful to maximize their ability to hit random targets while on station. Given their relative cost and endurance, a dozen drones can be on station for the same effort as a single manned aircraft, which means the flexibility can be achieved through variable munitions load-out, and cycling one back once it's expended it's munitions is a tiny fraction of the total on-duty cycle.   

       There's two very good reasons why you wouldn't mount a gun on a drone.   

       The only advantage would be cost, except that, as near as I can tell, there are munitions in development or in service that still offer the stand-off range, and don't cost any more than the gun load-out for any of the cannons we're discussing.
MechE, Aug 09 2014

       Point 1- Drones can't be designed with heavy armor = Wrong.   

       Point 2- //it's useful to maximize to (manned aircraft's) ability to hit random targets while on station.// Implying that it's somehow not useful to maximize a drone's ability to hit random targets while on station. Also that instead of having a single drone with a machine gun, you just have a bunch of drones with missiles. = Wrong
doctorremulac3, Aug 09 2014

       Then why isn't it done? I've made it pretty clear that there is no actual technical limitation, and the hardware to do it actually exists. And it's definitely not that the concept hasn't been considered.   

       You still haven't actually pointed out an advantage to a gun over a guided mortar bomb, or other low cost munition.
MechE, Aug 09 2014

       I have, but you said that if you have 20, 50 or 100 guys well spread out on a battlefield, you should just shoot 20, 50 or 100 "low cost" guided missiles at them rather than using a machine gun.   

       So ok, write the defense department and let them know your theory. It's umm.. original, I'll give you that.
doctorremulac3, Aug 09 2014

       But you haven't clarified what the advantage of that gun is, if, in order to hit a single target, it has to put enough rounds down range that it does more collateral damage, and costs more than a 3lb warhead precision guided bomb, which is the alternative I've pointed out. The the ammunition for a single attack also weighs more than the bomb, which means a lower total payload (or did you miss the fact the A-10 can fire it's total payload in 20 seconds).   

       Maybe, if we get to the point where a drone can hit it's target with a single shot from what is essentially a sniper rifle, you might have a point, but as long as you're talking about 20-30mm high speed cannon, the advantage is with precision guided explosives.
MechE, Aug 09 2014

       So a bullet does more collateral damage than a bomb?   

       No. If you need a machine gun, you use a machine gun. They were extensively tested in WW1 and nobody has questioned their effectiveness since. Until now I guess.
doctorremulac3, Aug 09 2014

       Yes a hundred 30mm rounds spread 20 meters (and 20 meters CEP is optimistic at best for a light aircraft mounted weapon) around the target do far more collateral damage than a 3lb warhead landing within a meter of the target.   

       Machine guns are good at putting a lot of metal downrange quickly. They actually aren't all that good at hitting a specific target. Aircraft strafing tends to take the form of running a continuous stream of fire across the target, not precision shooting. In both cases, they're designed for target rich environments, not single opponents.
MechE, Aug 09 2014

       Ok. Sounds like we need take all the machine guns away from our troops and replace them with "low cost" guided missiles.   

       Like I said, a very original concept.
doctorremulac3, Aug 09 2014

       In case you hadn't noticed, most of our troops did have their "machine guns" taken away. There's a reason why the primary issue version of the M-16 doesn't have a full auto mode, and hasn't since Vietnam.
MechE, Aug 09 2014

       Hmm. My son carried a fully automatic machine gun in Iraq, guess they forgot to take his away. And even if a weapon only has a burst mode, it's still a machine gun.   

       By the way, how you gonna guide these "low cost" guided missiles towards these multiple targets? You've got 50 guys all 30 feet apart running across the battlefield. You need to hit them all in a few seconds. How does this work now?   

       Look, I know you're just arguing for the sake of arguing, (hey, nothing wrong with that, one of my favorite activities) but machine guns have their place, guided missiles have their place, bombs have their place. The trick is knowing where you use what. You don't replace machine guns with bombs.   

       A machine gun on a close air support drone would be very useful.   

       Ok, I'll let you have the last word, gotta go.
doctorremulac3, Aug 09 2014

       I was reading about antiaircraft guns in the context of the Malaysian passenge jet being shot down. Flak was used in WWII until bombers started flying too high to hit. My guess is that cities and other large fixed targets could have antiaircraft cannon ready to go.   

       Flak would be great against a helicopter. I presume that on a shifting battlefield it is hard to have a suitable cannon handy when you need it. I think an RPG is just a shrapnel grenade. I read that RPGs took down a helicopter in Somalia and I think this was true vs the Soviets in Afghanistan. Flak would be even better against a low flying ground assault drone. If I were arming infantry men against such drones I would give them more RPGs.   

       Or a shotgun. Shotguns are great vs low, fast, fragile targets. I wonder if there could be a military version of a shotgun for attack drones? An RPG affects a sphere somewhere in the air, but a shotgun produces a cone starting with the shooter.
bungston, Aug 09 2014

       Another thought on guns vs missiles on a close air support aircraft. Attack profile. When you're patrolling with missiles and you see a target, you need to substantially aim the aircraft at the target. With a pivoting gun you just aim and shoot. You can fly along a row of targets, say a convoy and attack as you fly along the line. You can also shoot at a target that's behind you after you pass over it. You can shoot at a target that just pops up to your side as you fly by.   

       You have one attack profile with a missile, head on. With a gun you have 360 degrees covered at all times.   

       (See link)
doctorremulac3, Aug 11 2014

       With a helicopter door mount, you have more coverage. With an airplane axis mount or even with the gun pods, you've still only got head on. Most precision guided munitions, on the other hand, have at least a significant off-axis capability.   

       And I'm not arguing for the sake of arguing. You seem to have this belief that aircraft mounted auto- cannon are precision weapons. They simply aren't.
MechE, Aug 11 2014

       //With an airplane axis mount or even with the gun pods, you've still only got head on.//   

       Well, maybe that's the problem, you don't understand what I'm suggesting.   

       Slung under the drone, a ball turret style mounting with 360 degree coverage, not guns facing head on. One pilot flying the thing and a gunner manning the turret.   

       Look at the mini gun attacks in the posted video. How are you going to attack these targets at this close range from these angles and with this reaction time with missiles?   

       Simple: you're not.   

       //You seem to have this belief that aircraft mounted auto- cannon are precision weapons. They simply aren't.//   

       In the video, each and every target flown over absolutely annihilated with a total aim and fire time of a split second before the next target comes into range and is similarly destroyed.   

       Only a misunderstanding of what I'm proposing could explain your posts so let me clarify: when I say "cannon" I don't mean the kind on old sailing ships that shoot cannon balls. Hope we're on the same page now.
doctorremulac3, Aug 11 2014

       // There's a reason why the primary issue version of the M-16 doesn't have a full auto mode, and hasn't since Vietnam //   

       There's more than one reason, ammunition expenditure being one of them.   

       Another is that the light alloy receiver heats up really fast in full auto fire. Apart from burning the user, if you loose a full mag from an original M16, then change mags and fire most of the second one, there's a very good chance (depending on who's ammunition you favour) that the chambered round will cook off.   

       Not such a problem with modern propellants, but it still happens..   

       There's a good reason that many SMGs fire from an open bolt.
8th of 7, Aug 11 2014

       //You seem to have this belief that aircraft mounted auto- cannon are precision weapons. They simply aren't.//   

       They really really are. Missiles have to get there, then they explode producing a rapidly expanding sphere of heat, light, noise and sharp things. The cannon gives you the option of organizing your sharp things in a much more controlled way. Better yet, you can meter out the rounds in a manner proportional to the thing you're trying to destroy. If you need a lot destructive power, take a look at the A10 <link>. I love that from the ground you see it all in reverse order: you see the flashes, then you hear the rounds hitting, THEN you hear them being fired.
bs0u0155, Aug 11 2014

       With regard to this idea, would it not be simpler to make an A10 into a drone, rather than making a drone into a non-armored apache? There's over a ton of titanium armor for the pilot in the A10, this and all the other pilot related gubbins could be removed. You could use the weight to add a bunch of extra armor elsewhere. Give it a modern engine upgrade, (there are plenty of 10,000lb thrust business jet class engines now) throw on a couple of winglets and a few production optimization tweaks, and bam. Best CAS drone ever.
bs0u0155, Aug 11 2014

       Ha! If you've got TONNES of spare weight, and you want a tough aircraft, make lots of it out of steel. Field repairs could be done with a MIG welder and bits of old oil barrel.
bs0u0155, Aug 11 2014

       // MIG welder //   

       Was that an intentional pun ?
8th of 7, Aug 11 2014

       Well, I was thinking about the mostly-steel MIG 25.
bs0u0155, Aug 11 2014

       I know exactly what you are talking about. If you are proposing a turret, then yes we are back to recoil being a significant issue. There is a reason why the A-10 is forward firing and fixed range. In fact you will find the same design in (I believe since the ball turrets were removed from the B-52) all modern fixed wing aircraft with guns. If anyone knows of one with a turret, please feel free to correct me.   

       And [bs0u0155] the A-10 will put 80% of its shots into a 12m diameter circle, which moves forward at a minimum of 138mph, or 62m/s. Therefore a short (1 second) burst of 50-60 rounds will cover an oblong over 12m wide and 62m long. That same burst will eat up 90 or so pounds of ammunition. (Of course this ignores the fact that the A-10 ammunition is explosive shells or armor piercing incendiary.)   

       The APKWS or the 88mm guided mortar bomb both have a CEP somewhere around 1m from the laser designator spot, and a lethal blast radius of maybe 5 meters (for a ground burst). So that single munition will destroy it's target, and cover a much smaller area. It also weighs about 18 lbs for the APKWS, about 10 for the smallest bombs.   

       Again. If we get to the point where a drone can hover over a battlefield and execute precision, sniper like attacks, I'm right there with you. Until that happens, the guns do not have the advantage.
MechE, Aug 11 2014

       Bear in mind the psychological factors - "shock and awe".   

       Sometimes, rather than killing the opponent, it's more advantageous to send them scuttling to the rear, with brown stains on their trousers and crying for their mother.   

       In 1944, Hawker Typhoons destroyed relatively few German armoured vehicles. But many undamaged vehicles were abandoned by their crews out of panic when subjected to Typhoon attacks. The same was true of infantry; there are numerous reports of Germman infantry surrendering en masse after their positions were attacked by rocket- firing Typhoons.   

       Just the sight and sound of an A-10's "buzz- saw", never mind seeing the on-target effects, plus the knowledge that "there are more of those bastard things up there somewhere" is more effective in terms of the effects than the actual damage.   

       Nebelwerfer are a good example. Allied troops feared them, because even though their effects were no worse that mortars or artillery, the prolonged and unmistakeable sound signature engendered fear and dismay. The Russians did the same thing with Katyushas.
8th of 7, Aug 11 2014

       Mech, wow, you're all over the place. Grasping at straws I'm afraid.   

       Modern "fixed wing" aircraft don't have turrets, except for my proposal which is kind of the point.   

       Every attack helicopter has a gun turret on the front. They swivel 180, not 360 because the gunner doesn't swivel 360. Not a problem with a remote controlled gun.   

       This drone wouldn't need precise sniper attacks. It would blast the area with automatic cannon destroying anything and everything it was aiming at.
doctorremulac3, Aug 11 2014

       So, your drone is a helicopter then?
RayfordSteele, Aug 11 2014

       And producing far more collateral damage. You do realize that when they designed the A-10, they had to mount the gun off-center so the firing barrel was on center, because that few inches of misalignment was enough to turn the aircraft. You put a proportionally equally powerful (force to weight) gun in a turret, and that thing will spray shells all over the place. And yes, helicopters have a mechanism to counter off-axis firing from their nose turret. That's much harder to do with a fixed wing aircraft, especially if you don't want to induce a spin.   

       Please actually counter my point about the relative accuracy of a burst from an A-10 vs a precision guided bomb or micro missile.
MechE, Aug 11 2014

       //So, your drone is a helicopter then?//   

       Slow flying fixed wing with a 360 degree rotating turret.
doctorremulac3, Aug 11 2014

       //A-10 vs a precision guided bomb or micro missile//   

       Fill it full of self-guided 30 mm rounds <link>.
bs0u0155, Aug 11 2014

       [doc] See my above re recoil and aim.   

       And, given that you apparently are talking about HE shells, please, with regards to collateral damage, please discuss the fact that a single burst will deliver just about as much explosive as several of the smaller options I have been describing, and that in doing so in 40-50 small packets rather than 1 slightly larger one, you are inherently spreading it over a larger area.
MechE, Aug 11 2014

       [bs0] Fine. As I said, if you can get it to 1 shot 1 kill, I'm going to agree it's useful. I don't care if you use precision gun guidance or guided weapons. But the technology to do it with guided munitions exists now.   

       As long as you're talking about an autocannon that's designed to drop lots and lots of shells onto the target, it's a higher collateral damage weapon than the others I've been discussing.
MechE, Aug 11 2014

       You're right. But this is modern guidance making up for the fact that explosives are messier than kinetic energy.
bs0u0155, Aug 11 2014

       //[doc] See my above re recoil and aim.//   

       We've covered that.
doctorremulac3, Aug 11 2014

       Not for a turret mounted gun you haven't. An axis mounted gun with your "recoiless" system would throw the force of the recoil out the back. A turret will throw it into the body of the aircraft a large percentage of the time.
MechE, Aug 11 2014

       And to clarify on cost, the Air Force paid $26.04 per shell for the GAU-8 avenger (in 2001). A 50 round burst cost just about $1300, and it's probably gone up since then. A Hydra rocket costs, as I mentioned before, about $1000 (today's prices). The guided versions do cost more, but the guided small bombs cost less. So there is no cost savings in using the cannon.
MechE, Aug 11 2014

       //An axis mounted gun with your "recoiless" system would throw the force of the recoil out the back. A turret will throw it into the body of the aircraft a large percentage of the time.//   

       It would be mounted such that the counter charge would not hit the plane obviously. It's outlet would be on top.   

       //And to clarify on cost,//   

       Next you're going to say that the word "missiles" rolls off the tongue more pleasantly than the word "cannon".
doctorremulac3, Aug 11 2014

       //It would be mounted such that the counter charge would not hit the plane obviously. It's outlet would be on top.//   

       Work out the physics on that one for me please. Pay special attention to the moment between the shell and the ballast given the variable firing angle of the two turrets.   

       //Next you're going to say that the word "missiles" rolls off the tongue more pleasantly than the word "cannon".//   

       I'd appreciate it if you would actually try to rebut my points. At this point I have shown a standard 50 round burst from an aircraft cannon:   

       Costs more than a small precision guided bomb.   

       Delivers explosive over a larger area than said bomb, resulting in more collateral damage.   

       Weighs more than said bomb (and that's even ignoring your added ballast weight).   

       Puts the firing aircraft in a more exposed position than said bomb.   

       Your have not actually countered any of these points.
MechE, Aug 11 2014

       //precision guided bomb//   

       What's the probability that the mechanisms behind precision guidance (IR laser/mm RADAR) will be spoofable/detectable/directly targeted?
bs0u0155, Aug 11 2014

       I think I've repeatedly addressed the difference between machine guns/automatic cannons and "low cost" guided bombs.   

       Really getting into comparing screwdrivers and hammers here.
doctorremulac3, Aug 11 2014

       You boys go outside and play. Dinner is at seven, don't be late.
normzone, Aug 11 2014

       BUT MOOOOOMMM! MechE's dissing my totally awesome design again!   

       Alllriiight. (shuffles dejectedly out the door exchanging shoulder punches with Mech)
doctorremulac3, Aug 11 2014

       Spoofable, possibly. I would suggest, however, that you're basically going to have the same problem with whatever camera system your using for targeting the cannon in the first place. The mark 1 eyeball is hard to beat, but drones don't exactly have one of those.   

       Detectable/Directly targeted, for laser only if the detector happens to be directly on the target. mm wave radar is probably a little easier, but even there they'd have to get lucky.
MechE, Aug 11 2014

       // I think I've repeatedly addressed the difference between machine guns/automatic cannons and "low cost" guided bombs.//   

       Really, because I haven't seen it. You do realize that a bomb is essentially a grenade with a guidance system strapped to it, right? And while it wouldn't be mil-spec, I could build that guidance system for the cost of a low end digital camera (as long as it had a real zoom capability, need the motors). A lot less in lenses, offset by the cost of the optical notch filter.   

       Add in the $4 cost of an M68 grenade, heck, I'll even double it to $8 in order to get an aerodynamic casing. We're still not talking about a particularly expensive piece of ordnance. Buck it up several times to get it to mil-spec, to cover R&D, and to get the error down to 1m, and you're still not breaking the bank.
MechE, Aug 11 2014

       //A lot less in lenses, offset by the cost of the optical notch filter.//   

       Ahh, I see.   

       And rather than just shooting 50 guys spread out on a battlefield with a machine gun you'd shoot 50 guided missiles at them right?   

       I've asked that like twenty times and you've changed the subject to stuff like the cost of lading and drayage of the various systems.   

       I'll take a stab for you. The answer is yes. No?
doctorremulac3, Aug 11 2014

       I think it would be interesting to do a drone with *only* a rear-facing M230.   

       So it makes its approach, does the decision of fire/no fire *after* getting a good view of the target, then begins hosing the rear (typically less armored) aspect (hey, guys, how good are you at getting turned around quickly - and baring your butts to the rest of the battlefield?) of the target position, at the same time adding about 6000 lbs thrust (approx. the same as a JATO bottle, albeit short duration).   

       One downside is that the velocity of the projectiles at the target would be lower than a front-mount gun.   

       I wouldn't want to make it the only weapon attacking the enemy position, but it would certainly add a new and distracting dimension.
lurch, Aug 11 2014

       Erm, claymore mine on a very long piece of string?
not_morrison_rm, Aug 11 2014

       Hey, guns and missiles, just like any other close air support vehicle.
doctorremulac3, Aug 11 2014

       Yes, I would drop 50 separate weapons on them. Missile or bomb as appropriate. You, on the other hand would shoot 24 of them with 1200 separate shells and then run out of ammunition.
MechE, Aug 11 2014

       And where would you get these low cost "man seeking missiles"?   

       My system carries 5,000 rounds.   

       Make that 10,000.
doctorremulac3, Aug 11 2014

       Is there any reason a reasonably big drone can't have a gyro stabilized .50 cal sniper rifle? Why use $5000 grenades for a $3 job?
bs0u0155, Aug 12 2014

       Did you bother to look at the link I posted last week?   

       Particularly, the MBDA Sabre, the Raytheon STM or Pyros, Lockheed's Shadow Hawk, Alliant Technical's guided 120mm mortar, or General Dynamics 88mm Air Dropped mortar?   

       I've not been talking pie in the sky, these systems have been developed for exactly the uses I've been talking about.   

       And your loadout is why I've been emphasizing weight. The A-10 carries 1300 rounds (about 20 seconds sustained fire, 90 lbs for a 1 sec burst). The Apache can carry about to 1200 rounds (2 minutes sustained), but typically carries 300 in favor of more fuel.
MechE, Aug 12 2014

       //Is there any reason a reasonably big drone can't have a gyro stabilized .50 cal sniper rifle? Why use $5000 grenades for a $3 job?//   

       That's the interesting possibility, I suspect there are technical issues still to be worked out since no one seems to think it is being done.
MechE, Aug 12 2014

       Or, more likely, administrative issues.
RayfordSteele, Aug 12 2014

       //I suspect there are technical issues still to be worked out //   

       I have a little background in marksmanship and can say that beyond a couple of hundred yards, a LOT of things have to go right to hit things. Presumably the guided bullets solve a lot of this though?
bs0u0155, Aug 12 2014

       //Did you bother to look at the link I posted last week?//   

       I've posted links of the various guided munitions you referred to as well as the cannon and mini-gun ammo you're suggesting they replace. I left out the mortar with it's massive recoil for obvious reasons.   

       They're all variants, more of less, of the $70,000 per unit Hellfire missile system, a semi active laser guided munition that requires the target be "painted" from the aircraft for the duration of the missile's flight.   

       Among other things, they're designed to be shot or dropped from an aircraft that's substantially pointing at the target. They are not designed be fired 360 degrees from the aircraft limiting it's ability to come about and fire at a target that pops up to the side, something that is bound to happen when you're down close to the battlefield. I couldn't find pricing but to suggest that the SABER would cost/weight about the same as the 3 or 4 cannon shells or mini-gun rounds it would replace, well, doesn't make much sense.   

       In the scenario of the 50 spread out troops you want to shoot at, you'd have to paint the target, shoot the missile, wait for it to hit then paint the next target, fire the missile etc. Unless you develop a laser targeting system that paints and tracks 50 moving troops simultaneously while the missiles finds them. Additionally, at extreme close range, the missiles would be useless needing time to get up to speed and maneuver.   

       The alternative is just aiming and shooting your 30mm cannon or mini-gun. This is what makes the most sense. They have missiles AND automatic guns on close air support aircraft for a reason.   

       There's no reason a drone shouldn't be armed the same as it's manned counterpart when they're designed to do the same job.
doctorremulac3, Aug 12 2014

       The 50cal sniper rifle makes sense to me. I pulled up those fancy 50cal bullets on Wikipedia. You can fit all sorts of - gubbins? - in a 50cal bullet.   

       But if this were for shooting people running around maybe you would not even need that. My understanding is that 50cal was chosen for sniper rifles because of the ballistics - shooter is 1000m+ from target over a horizontal expanse. For a drone, why not use a 22cal bullet? More 22cal bullets will fit on board. A drone would be a lot closer than a sniper and some of the distance would be vertical. The drone could fly over / along fortifications. A hit would be less lethal but for fighting infantry that would be good.
bungston, Aug 12 2014

       Thinking about infantry again. Under what circumstances do soldiers still run around loose? If I were on foot I would rather take my chances with the drone than with the Kaiser's boys manning their artillery.
bungston, Aug 12 2014

       Hey, if you can quickly aim the gun at the target, shoot and hit it, that's the point so I'm all for it.   

       Machine guns make hitting the target easier but if you've got enough gyro stabilization and fancy target tracking to lead the moving target as necessary to do the 1 shot 1 kill thing, sure.
doctorremulac3, Aug 12 2014

       //Under what circumstances do soldiers still run around loose?//   

       That brings up a good point. That's still the way wars are brought to their terminal phase. Boots on the ground. After all the air superiority, guided bombs blowing up vehicles etc, it's the side that has troops running the city that wins. (we can leave whether or not the city was worth winning to another discussion)   

       If we have to fight psychotic murderous ideologies that are going to engage us in wars of attrition, I say we use unmanned, remote control fighting vehicles wherever possible rather than sending our young people out to get killed.   

       Who knows, it might take some of the appeal of fighting away from the other side too. Where's the glory in going out to get blown up by a drone?
doctorremulac3, Aug 12 2014

       Actually I was thinking three. I did a little mockup of a drone with 1 pivoting central automatic cannon and 2 independently pivoting mini gun pods. Remotely operated by a 4 man crew, 1 pilot and 3 gunners with 360 degrees of coverage. Kind of a modern flying fortress deal.   

       Excuse the crappy mockup, just spend about 5 minutes on it. (link)   

       Anyway, if a flight if ten or so of these were coming towards you you'd be very unwise to to do anything other than hide or surrender. You could try shooting at one of them if you're anxious to get killed but that would be about the only reason to take these things on.   

       I'd also supplement these with very small spotter only drones that would be almost impossible to hit. They'd also have laser illumination ability. First come the almost impossible to hit spotter drones, they relay target map info and designate targets for the laser guided missiles that get fired, then the gunship drones sweep in.   

       This system would own the battlefield. It's mere existence would deter aggression.
doctorremulac3, Aug 12 2014

       None of them are anything resembling a hellfire. A few of the ones I didn't specifically mentioned are variants of the hydra, which is essentially a backyard model rocket with a few pounds of explosives on the end. All of the ones I specifically mentioned are bombs. No propulsion, gps or inertial guidance with laser terminal guidance. That means the designator can be moved point to point quickly.   

       Also, one of my main points is that you don't want the drone down close to the battle field, where a lucky thrown rock could bring it down.   

       And you seem to be counting one bomb against one shell, rather than the 50 or so theses cannons actually fire in a burst.
MechE, Aug 12 2014

       They're all laser guided munitions like the Hellfire.   

       You have to fire or drop the munition painting the target the whole time while you wait for it to hit then fire or drop the next one.   

       Or you could just shoot all 50 targets in about the time it would take you to hit about 5 to 6 by individually dropping bombs on them.   

       And please don't suggest that any one of these are cheaper and lighter than a couple of bullets from a mini-gun.   

       //a lucky thrown rock could bring it down.//   

       Ok. I think we're done here yes?
doctorremulac3, Aug 12 2014

       Yes, they're laser guided, but that's like saying a Mini Cooper is the same as an M1 Abrams because they both have a steering wheel.   

       A hellfire is laser guided all the way. Most of these are terminal laser guidance only. A hellfire has a propulsion system, most of these don't.   

       The Hydra rocket costs $1000, the APKWS guided version runs about 5k and that's still a more sophisticated guidance system than most of these bombs require.   

       And a lucky thrown rock, small arms fire, whatever.
MechE, Aug 12 2014

       //Ok. I think we're done here yes?//   

       Time to wrap this up Mech.
doctorremulac3, Aug 12 2014

       I have to declare this one in Mech's favor.
RayfordSteele, Aug 13 2014

       Which part, the shooting $79,000 guided missiles at people instead of using a couple of bullets from a machine gun?   

       You get to vote, not declare, and sorry, the buns have it.
doctorremulac3, Aug 13 2014

       How many times do I have to point out that I am not, and never have been talking about a $79,000 dollar missile. At most, the munition's I'm talking about are in the $10,000 range.   

       You, on the other hand keep talking about 1-2 shells, not the 50 round minimum burst that these cannons fire, and need to fire in order to be certain of hitting the target.
MechE, Aug 14 2014

       OK, now I understand why you guys didn't like my floating safe haven idea.   

       I'll have to find that scene from 'falling down'.
pashute, Aug 14 2014

       The part where the basically disinterested third party decides for himself who has done the better job covering all the bases for their case.
RayfordSteele, Aug 14 2014

       Ok, I'll mark you down as thinking it's a good idea to replace fifty bucks worth of bullets with ten thousand dollars worth of guided ordinance to do the same job much less effectively.
doctorremulac3, Aug 14 2014

       $1300 bucks of "bullets". And more weight per target. And that assumes you work out the off axis firing issues, which you haven't yet.
MechE, Aug 14 2014

       How come manned aircraft don't have "off axis firing issues"?
doctorremulac3, Aug 14 2014

       Depends upon the weapon/aircraft ratio. With the A10 they had to go on-axis with the cannon, and put the nosewheel off to one side.   

       The only way you could mound that thing in a turret would be on a ship.
bs0u0155, Aug 14 2014

       Yea, but that's a very big gun. I never suggested that. The original post suggests putting the M230 on a drone.   

       Even Mech said:   

       //While it hasn't been tested (to the best of my knowledge) there doesn't seem to be a reason you couldn't mount a GPU-2/A gun pod on a MQ-9 Reaper, it certainly has the load capacity and the hard points.//   

       Which was the last post of his that I agreed with, unless he was stating that only a forward firing gun pod would work in which case I disagree.   

       Obviously it would have to be the right size for the aircraft.
doctorremulac3, Aug 14 2014

       The gun pod doesn't fire off axis, it's fixed.   

       And, again, I ask you to find me one modern fixed wing aircraft with guns that fire off axis. It's correctable with helicopters because they're already dynamically balanced between the rotor forces and the tail forces. And even then, part of the reason the M230 has a much lower firing rate, a much lower muzzle velocity, and a much, much lower effective range is to make it so the gun doesn't spin the aircraft. Knock it down further for a drone helicopter and you're not going to have much luck hitting anything at any distance.
MechE, Aug 14 2014

       So this is how the cycle works:   

       1- I point out that it's possible to have a recoilless gun.   

       2- You change the subject and say it's too expensive.   

       3- I say bullets and cannon shells are cheaper than laser guided bombs.   

       4- You say there's too much recoil.   

       5- Back to 1 - repeat.   

       And how many times do you want to do this?
doctorremulac3, Aug 14 2014

       Oh, and as an aside, my pricing was based on the A- 10's avenger cannon. While it's hard to find exact pricing for the shell for the M230, the best I can find suggests it's more like $113 per shell (makes sense, the shells are machined aluminum, not drawn brass in order to save weight), which just bumped your cost per burst up to $5650.
MechE, Aug 14 2014

       No. You say it is possible to have a recoiless gun. I point out that any recoiless gun design needs to be able to throw material out the back on the exact same axis, and that is not possible in a turret mount. You counter with something about what are essentially opposed turrets, and I point out that that induces one heck of a moment on the aircraft unless they are firing in line, which they won't be 99.99% of the time. You then ignore that point.   

       I then point out that the accuracy of guided bombs is significantly greater than that of aircraft mounted cannon, and you ignore that point.   

       Then I point out that the cost per burst for one of the cannon that you are proposing is comparable to the cost of one of the newer precision guided bombs (possibly slightly less expensive, but see above re accuracy). And also that the weight of a burst of ammunition is significantly higher than the weight of one of these small bombs. You then ignore both of these points.
MechE, Aug 14 2014

       The biggest problem, is that if you put a cannon on a Reaper, it will have to fly within cannon range of the target. The target might be a cannon, it might shoot you back, and the Reaper is not armored.   

       The A10 IS armored. It's gun is very big with good range. It's also fast and maneuverable enough to dictate the engagement with ground troops.
bs0u0155, Aug 14 2014

       I liked reading the debate, but I don't really think the idea is original enough. The poster didn't invent the M230, the UAV, or a new way of using them. The debate between guns and bombs is interesting, but I don't think it comes down to a question of one or the other. The UAV guided bomb argument wins in my opinion because it exists in use, can be used against armored targets, can attack without stopping, is more demoralizing because there's no fighting back, not as visual or audible as machine gun fire, destroys cover, kills entirely and immediately without the suffering of removing arms and legs, doesn't require coordinated attacks, effective against installations and convoys and personnel, etc.
rcarty, Aug 14 2014

       Plus they come in fourteen different colors, so you can get them to match your flag.
bungston, Aug 14 2014

       Mech, I have no idea what you're talking about with opposed turrets firing out of line etc. You obviously haven't looked at the picture.   

       There's a set of 3 ball turrets, the top of which protrude from the top of the plane, the bottom from the bottom. The bottom has the gun, the top the outlet for the reaction material.   

       Now take a deep breath. Do you understand that? Don't get excited and start talking about the cost of shipping, drayage, port fees, dealer markup, tax, licence and restocking fee. One step at a time. Do you understand that?
doctorremulac3, Aug 14 2014

       First of all, from an aerodynamic and structural standpoint, no, but we'll leave that for a moment.   

       When a gun is firing roughly backwards, where does the exhaust go? If this is prop driven, how much of it impacts and erodes the propeller? If it is jet engine driven, how much of it is sucked into the engine? In fact, in general, how much of the time is a portion of the aircraft in direct line of the exhaust? Please remember to include the fact that wings aren't actually flat plates, and therefore your turrets have a much larger percentage of their ball embedded in the wings and body.
MechE, Aug 15 2014

       The jet intakes are forward of the gun exhaust which could be steam as one of the counterweights I've suggested is water that's used to cool the gun before being blown out as counter ballast.   

       But see what you're doing? You won't answer one question because you get clobbered so you dodge it by bringing up another, as if a large quantity of invalid arguments will some how equal one good one.   

       If any of your criticisms were valid you'd just lay it down, it would stand on its own and you'd achieve... whatever it is you're hoping to achieve. Then you'd lay another one down, they'd all add up. But you change the subject every time I try to pin you down.   

       So, I'll try again. Do you understand that the guns have a counter recoil feature? I ask because you repeatedly allude to recoil as being a problem no matter how many times I suggest this solution.   

       So yes or no. We can discuss whether they chip the paint or not later. Do you understand that these guns have recoil canceling ports opposite the line of fire? We won't go forward until this is resolved so don't try to wiggle out of it. Yes or no. Recoil cancellation.
doctorremulac3, Aug 15 2014

       //First of all, from an aerodynamic and structural standpoint, no, but we'll leave that for a moment//   

       I think this is the bigger issue.
RayfordSteele, Aug 15 2014

doctorremulac3, Aug 15 2014

       I understand that you are claiming it is possible for the guns to have a counter re-coil feature. I am then pointing out all of the problems with the use of that design in an aircraft as you propose. Please try to keep up.   

       And it doesn't matter if the recoil mass is steam or something else. Sucking a big puff of anything that is not oxygenated air into a jet engine is not good for maintaining a working engine.   

       And it's worse for the propellers that every drone in existence actually has.
MechE, Aug 15 2014

       Please try to keep up, I know it's difficult for you.   

       The jet inlets, as clearly stated before, are forward of any exhaust from the guns.   

       So, I'll try one last time then I'm done.   

       Recoil issue: solved or not?   

       Which you won't answer so instead see link showing the many, many, many jet powered drones that you didn't know exist.   

       //And it's worse for the propellers that every drone in existence actually has.//   

       Surprising that a self professed expert on drone design wouldn't know about these.
doctorremulac3, Aug 15 2014

       If you're throwing a bullet backward, you're throwing your recoil material forward at the same velocity relative to the aircraft. No matter how quickly it disperses, it's still going to go past the nose of the aircraft, and be picked up by the intakes.   

       Oh, and those jet powered drones? All either developmental, or high altitude surveillance. I'll admit, I'd missed that the PredatorC/Avenger was a pure jet. Guess what, it doesn't matter. Either way, a load of steam and burned explosive entering the intakes is not going to be good for it.
MechE, Aug 15 2014

       Ok, I won't say that the inlets are placed forward the exhaust from the guns a 3rd time, you're clinging to your straw man argument and then trying got change the subject again and even trying to put propellors on my attack drone so you can critique them.   

       Whoops, now you're going back and changing previous posts to remove wrong statements, a clear violation of the rules of debate.   

       So I'm done.
doctorremulac3, Aug 15 2014

       Here's a suggestion (assuming it is legal for you to do so). Acquire a small pistol. Mount it in firing mount (see any episode of mythbusters for what I mean). Load it with (full load) blanks. Put a piece of sheet metal at an angle a few inches in front of it. Fire it a few times. Tell me what shape the metal is in.   

       Here's a hint. The force coming out of the barrel is the same, whether or not there is a projectile involved, the only thing that changes is the dispersion rate, and given a 30mm cannon, a few feet is not going to be enough to disperse.
MechE, Aug 15 2014

       And I will say for a third time, that it is not possible to mount the turrets such that the exhaust will not reach the front of the aircraft. Physics is a thing.   

       And I admitted I was wrong about the jet, so no we don't have to discuss propellers. We might want to discuss the fan blades inside the jet in the same terms, however.   

       And yes, I did remove a few statements that weren't relevant to the discussion.
MechE, Aug 15 2014

       I can put the inlets 20 feet in front of the thing if I wanted but it's not necessary for among other reasons, I could just put them underneath the plane if it was an issue, which it isn't. I'm sure YOU couldn't design an aircraft that would overcome any issues, so tell you what. We'll compromise and agree on that.   

       But I'm going out and getting some fresh air, sunshine and exercise. You should do the same.   

       I'll say thank you for a spirited debate. It had its interesting moments.   

       I'll let you have the closing argument and I swear to almighty Thrall, that I will not respond, (unless it's an insult). You have the floor for the final wrap up.
doctorremulac3, Aug 15 2014

       If you mount the intakes under, then it's the gun exhaust when the cannon is firing forwards. By having significant loads of cannon exhaust above and below the aircraft, in many different axes, you've trapped yourself in a situation where it will sometimes get into the engines. Now that I think about it, it's also going to do nasty things to the airflow over the wings.   

       Given the structural and clearance requirements, your concept might, just might, be possible in a single cannon mounted in the body, towards the tail of the aircraft, if you limit yourself to about a 60 degree traverse (both axes). I won't even swear to that, because it's going to do interesting things to the aerodynamics at the tail, but let's say that can be dealt with.   

       So you now have your recoiless cannon. It can't have the sort of aiming flexibility you want, but it is what it is. Given that it's based on the M230, but the shells weigh twice as much and are twice as expensive, can we discuss payload and cost?
MechE, Aug 15 2014

       No, but you can put your thoughts in your closing statement. Take your time, make it as long as you want. The floor is yours. I'm declaring this your "rebuttal free safe free speech zone". (standard rules of curtesy still apply of course) Let 'er rip. THEN GO OUT AND DO SOMETHING FUN! (Unless you're at work, in which case you might want to get back to work.)
doctorremulac3, Aug 15 2014

       I've already said it before. The cost for a 50 round burst (the recommended burst size for aircraft currently using it) of basic M230 shells is about $6000. Once you add in the fact that in your recoiless system essentially requires a double shell, figure it's about around $10,000. You can lower this cost significantly by moving away from the costly light weight shells, but see the section on payload.   

       While it is hard to find exact pricing on the newer small guided munitions, the 120mm Roll Control Guided Mortar (which is suitable for use as an air- dropped bomb) is also about $10,000. Several smaller, lower cost alternatives exist, but I don't have exact pricing on them. Any way you slice it, however, the costs are at best competitive, and more likely favor the guided munitions.   

       The weight of 50 M789 shells for the M230 is 38.5 lbs (those cheaper shells I mentioned above would be about 90lbs). I'll be generous and figure your recoiless system only increases that by half, so 57 lbs. The weight of one of the 120mm mortar is under 30lbs, and some of the smaller bombs are in the 10-20lb range, so the aircraft will be able to carry many more of them.   

       And aircraft mounted guns are less accurate than the precision guided munitions (8-10m for the M230 on the Apache, vs 1-2m for the bombs) , which means you are spraying roughly the same amount of explosive over a much larger area, resulting in more collateral damage.   

       In summary, the cannon is less capable, more expensive, and can engage fewer targets with more collateral damage. To do so, it has to fly much closer to the action, putting the drone at significant risk of damage due to small arms fire, let alone anti-aircraft fire. The one countervailing advantage is that it might be slightly faster to engage multiple independent targets.
MechE, Aug 15 2014

       Concise and clear. Thank you for your input Mech.
doctorremulac3, Aug 15 2014

       Lawn-darts with shaped-charge nosecones.
FlyingToaster, Aug 15 2014

       No no. Lawn darts are far too dangerous to sell. An AR-15 however...
RayfordSteele, Aug 15 2014

       // The one countervailing advantage is that it might be slightly faster to engage multiple independent targets. //   

       It seems to me that it could be possible with guided munitions to launch many so that they all hit their target at the same time so that none of the targets gets any advance warning. A canon may switch targets rapidly, but it is still sequential.
scad mientist, Aug 15 2014

       //A canon may switch targets rapidly, but it is still sequential//   

       There are guided bullets/cannon shells now. you could time it so that the furthest target receives the first, the closest the last.
bs0u0155, Aug 15 2014

       The two issues are terminal guidance and cost. Most guided munitions use laser terminal guidance, which means that the laser must be on the target immediately before and during impact.   

       With regards to cost, most of the really cheap things I'm discussing are bombs with guidance, but no propulsion or real glide capability. You drop it, they steer, they hit the target, but the timing is going to be pretty constant. If you want it to be able to control it's rate of descent, you're going to have to pay a bit more.
MechE, Aug 15 2014

       Optimum is straight down of course.   

       All sorts of tactical advantages, including forcing a non-targeted enemy to shoot upwards, a targeted enemy to shoot directly upwards, where cartoon physics can come into play.   

       Thinking of those Amazon drones of course: if you actually want a wotsis, A-10 cannon, in play you need something for it to wear; something large and tough so you don't end up just giving the enemy $300k autocannons; something like an A-10.
FlyingToaster, Aug 15 2014

       //Optimum is straight down of course.//   

       If your target happens to be not only conveniently under you, but in the available drop vector of your bomb. With a bomb you have to fly over the target, with a gun you don't. You can shoot far out in front of the aircraft, to the sides and even backwards and your attack is instantaneous. You're on patrol and you see a target 500 yards to your left, with a bomb you turn the aircraft, fly towards it and drop when you're in the right position possibly being shot at the whole time. With a gun you aim and shoot.   

       Guided bombs also take time to drop and hit their target. In the time it takes for one bomb to drop, several targets can be hit with a gun. Assuming all these targets are shooting back at you hitting those targets quickly is beneficial. If I'm eye to eye with an enemy shooting at me, I'd be more comfortable having him in the sights of a gun that's currently shooting back at them than having them in the sights of a laser illumination device that's steering a bomb to hit them in "5, 4, 3, 2, 1" seconds. If the enemy has an automatic cannon, that's gonna be the longest 5 seconds of my life, and possibly the last.   

       Bombs are also pretty useless in a city street fighting situation where for instance, your bomb would have to drop straight down to hit a target on a narrow street or alley lest it hit the buildings on either side, unless you're trying to blow the building up. Talk about collateral damage. With a gun you just get into the line of sight with the target from several blocks away and pull the trigger. In this situation you can also use buildings for your cover by flying by the target and shooting before disappearing behind a building between you and your target.   

       The best system to use is the one they use now, guns and missiles in combination to hit the targets with the best weapon for the particular situation. Missiles for hard or clustered targets, guns for soft and/or spread out targets or targets to the side of the aircraft.   

       Now if there were a system where twenty targets could be illuminated at once and twenty bombs could be dropped simultaneously that might be useful, but I don't think anybody's suggested that. I wouldn't have a problem with one drone having a couple of dozen bomb aimers each being assigned and illuminating their target. That's something you could do with a drone that you couldn't do with a manned plane. Twenty bombarders, or more.   

       As long as it had it's targetable cannon as well.
doctorremulac3, Aug 16 2014

       I keep thinking "repurposed lawn darts"
FlyingToaster, Oct 01 2014

       $100 quadcopter from ebay. replace camera with hand grenade?
bs0u0155, Oct 01 2014


       It seems to me that a drone, whether remotely-piloted or automatic, is seeing with mechanical eyes, even if that includes cameras and video screens for a human. A guided missile also uses some sort of mechanical/electronic sensing system.   

       A gun, on the other hand, is almost always guided by human eyes directly. There may be electronic aim points, or magnification lenses of various sorts, but the eye is not looking at a screen, and the gun is seldom self-aiming.   

       So I say that this gun idea requires a lot of development of the sighting system. A missile-launcher on such a drone is bog-standard, practically speaking, while a gun is very much a new thing. And, as is my wont, I want some method.   

       The recoilless idea is interesting, but it adds to the ammo weight something fierce. Unless your countermass is going away as fast as your bullet, it needs to weigh more. And if you are talking about having a separate device entirely to fire the recoil, it had better never malfunction.   

       I would try for making smaller and smaller guided missiles, to get them to where using them on individual people is worthwhile. Or just, you know, find a peaceful solution.
baconbrain, Oct 01 2014

       The problem is that in the end all these smart weapons land in the hands of terrorists and dictatorships. Next, you are defined as having committed crimes against humanity, even before you shot anything. And finally your own army is ordered to dismantle for legal and financial reasons.
pashute, Oct 01 2014

       Unfortunately that's going to happen with any new weapon. The only reason that civilization marches forward instead of being taken over by violent barbarians using new weaponry is because, usually, for the most part, with many glaring exceptions through history, the people who make the best weapons are a little bit smarter, and smarter people usually tend to see the value in peace and order.   

       Case in point, these ISIS assholes would do anything to get a nuclear weapon, and who knows, someday they might, but it won't be because they build it themselves, quite simply because they're too stupid. That doesn't mean they can't do a lot of damage, but they'll never take over the world because AK-47s and throat cutting knives don't work too well against a twenty megaton warhead coming down at 15,000 miles per hour.   

       It's very important the realize that these people are alive because civilized people have elected to leave them alive. They could be exterminated by dialing in a few coordinates, pushing a few buttons and turning some keys. But civilization doesn't feel threatened enough at this point to get as ugly as it's capable of getting.   


       By the way, I don't think anybody disagrees that the kill decision needs to always be made by a human and autonomous killing machines need to be banned under international law (for whatever that's worth). Auto targeting, fine. But there needs to be that "Do you want this person blown up? YES - NO" message on the control panel.   

       Problem is, the effectiveness of autokillbots will be hard to resist for those bent on genocide. Just set and forget. I'm afraid that the only reason other nasty weapons such as poison gas have been banned is because they're really not that good at killing compared to good old explosives. You can't put on a gas mask to protect yourself from a 500 pound bomb. You can try a little parasol like Wily E Coyote but they don't work very well.
doctorremulac3, Oct 01 2014

       I was thinking about how I would take on cannon drones in my city. The small size and lack of redundant metal / cabin space means that a hit would be even more likely to cripple than is the case for a manned aircraft. And as opposed to those 2 mile high bomb droppers, these are down where you can shoot them. But you really do not want to be in the line of sight for something like this.   

       I think the fact that they are moving objects of a certain size silhouetted against the sky means that one could use either a motion detector or image recogniton and shoot them down with a robot rifle. I am pretty impressed by the robot paintball sentries.   

       For these, the image recognition would not be super tricky. The software to lead the shot etc could be made freely available. The expensive bit is the motors to point the rifle. One could use fancy rifles, bullets etc but I bet a hit from a 22 would be enough.   

       I wonder if there exists a robot skeet shooter. I like the idea of a robot shooting skeet with a rifle. I will look.   

       I would set these up on rooftops and leave them.
bungston, Oct 04 2014


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