Tuesday, June 19, 2012

UAV's stunning loss rate.

via Bloomberg.
The BGOV Barometer shows Northrop’s Global Hawk and General Atomics’s Predator and Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles have had a combined 9.31 accidents for every 100,000 hours of flying. That’s the highest rate of any category of aircraft and more than triple the fleet-wide average of 3.03, according to military data compiled by Bloomberg.
The June 11 crash of a drone near Bloodsworth Island on Maryland’s Eastern Shore illustrated the vehicles’ propensity for accidents, known as “mishaps” in military parlance. The concern is that drones’ safety record won’t improve as they’re increasingly deployed for testing, border surveillance and other missions in U.S. airspace, said Jay Stanley, a spokesman for the American Civil Liberties Union in Washington.
“If we have 30,000 flying pieces of robotic hardware buzzing above our heads, Americans are going to want to be very certain that it’s safe, in addition to putting in place good rules to protect our privacy,” Stanley said in a telephone interview.
Read the whole thing but it points to a larger issue with the DoD.

They're latching onto technology for technology sake and aren't carefully examining whether or not its effective or wise to be using it in its intended roles....or whether those roles they perform today will be applicable in the future.

Another consideration?  The Global Hawk costs 233 million dollars each.  And with a loss rate of 15.6 per 100,000 that's going to add up real quick.

I look forward to seeing what the aviation guys have to say about this.  Might be time to hit Elements of Power up to get his opinion.


  1. It's a known problem that perhaps hasn't been factored into program costs as well as it should.

    The persistent ISR/strike mission seems here to stay, and isn't something easily (or cheaply) emulated with manned aircraft.

    Plus, our current strategy for dealing with Al Qaeda would not be possible without UAVs. If you think the Pakistani's are mad about us flying armed drones over their territory, just try it with Strike Eagles or F-16s.

  2. well i've never put this into words but how does an organization with less than 1000 members world wide deserve a total military commitment of over 100,000 troops policing a civil war in a far off land?

    if the enemy is AQ and i believe it is then it would be better to let SOCOM capture a bunch of these guys instead of blowing them to kingdom come. we could roll up this entire organization in a year if we had the proper strategy....uavs are not part of it. not a big part anyway.

    additionally now you're seeing these same uavs being brought into US airspace...they're going from spying on AQ to spying on Americans.

    i don't like it and i don't see how any conservative or liberal could. we're moving toward a police state and the uav is proof positive of it. against China, they're useless and we haven't experimented with them enough to see if they're really viable in the sea surv. mission.

    add the 233 million dollar price tag to it and you have a program that needs to be proven before we move ahead with it.

  3. Capturing is dangerous business. See Blackhawk Down. Even the Bin Laden raid didn't go smoothly.

    The targeted assassination campaign we're waging with UAVs doesn't require 100,000 troops to fight it. It could be done with far less.

    Are UAVs really being used to spy on us outside of any legal framework? If they are used within the law, then why is that a bad thing?

  4. wow.



    no further discussion necessary here.

  5. "See Blackhawk Down."

    Replay it with the 4 AC130 gunships and the Rangers in Bradleys as Garrison requested, and it goes off without a hitch, well, the gunships level half the city, but the Americans get out without loss

  6. Short Response:
    Doomberg Reporter who knows nothing about reliability, maintainability, and availability (RM&A) and even LESS about UAV design and operation wrote a punk-reporting hit piece on UAV RM&A, design and operation.
    From the slant, this is all about generating negative buzz as battlefield prep for efforts to stunt the growth of possible domestic UAV missions (over our US heads).
    While I am all for snuffing out the 'Surveillance Nation' and crushing the militarization of our police forces, stopping all UAV flights in uncontrolled airspace isn't the answer. Sure, as long as UAVs aren't massively armed bombers and they don't fly over highly populated areas, there's little chance of them harmng the populace - but I still want a human being aboard that has been shown to usually at least make an effort to avoid people on the ground on the way down.

  7. Regarding loss rates.
    Are they "like with like"?

    I know for a fact that at least one large UAV, a predator maybe, was sacrificed.

    A US patrol was under fire, and it was overhead providing intel.
    It reached the point where it had just enough fuel to get back to base and land.
    It didn't, it stayed overhead, calling out targets to the under fire patrol and at the vary last moment, it entered a dive and crashed into one of the attacking groups.

    Is an F16 going to do that?

    I cant say that two thirds of all UAV losses are such, but I wouldnt be surprised if UAVs do not leave a TIC under any circumstance.


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