tv Washington Journal Joe Pappalardo Discusses the Use of Disposable Drones CSPAN June 17, 2017 9:55pm-10:27pm EDT
announcer: sunday night at 8:00 astern on c-span's "q&a." >> coming up next, a look at the latest drone technology being developed by the military. then, a look at afterschool programs for grades k-12. then, outlining the presidential budget request at a house subcommittee hearing. >> time for our weekly spotlight on magazines. this week, a piece on popular mechanics about the air forces new weapon, disposable drones. people have a better sense of the traditional drones. what are disposable drones, apart from what they sound might? guest: sure. one of the interesting things happening now in military technology is drones are getting
smaller and more capable and , soiles are getting smarter the evolution of these two systems are merging together so it is harder to tell one from the other. a missile that gets fired from an airplane that has certain capabilities can fly, loiter over a target, strike exactly when the pilot wants it to, sort of having a next her wing man -- extra we man launch from your airplane. if a missile is smart enough to do that, is it a drone? it almost does not matter. the end capability of what it can do is what the air force is interested in. that is forcing design and strategic decisions on what they want to carry. host: we have a rendering from your article. what is wrong with the current drones the military is using? guest: range. most of the problems come from range.
the air force likes to go into places, even if they are defended by ground launch missiles or other aircraft, and strike targets on the ground. that can be enabled with drones. they are great at spying ahead, looking down at whatever the target is going to be, clearing the way, making sure the radar system of the enemy do not shoot at demand airplanes. drones are great at doing that. airplanes have to carry them in because the range has been so limited. that is where it is going. air-launched drones are the next, new big thing. what they look for is very much up for debate. world are around the actively researching a slew of different designs which makes it very interesting for journalists to cover. host: it also strikes me disposable drones could be particularly useful if a drone goes down in enemy territory. guest: the real point is to keep
the pilots safe. of the bubble with manned aircraft but send a drone into do whatever you need , intelligence gathering, surveillance, and reconnaissance, the pilot will be safer and the mission can continue. also, if a drone gets shot down, it is not an international incident. there is not a pilot at risk. there is not a search and rescue operation that has to be done for the pilot. the footprint of the operation can be a lot smaller and more efficient if there are drones involved. again, you have to get them there. the disposable part comes in when if the drone does not have the range to get there, it does not have the range to get home. you have to make them cheap enough you can lose them in combat and capable enough they can get the job done. that is the design trade-off the air force and other people are
looking at now. host: talking with joe pappalardo about his piece in "popular mechanics" about disposable drones. we want to take your calls from republicans, democrats, and independents. mentioned it is a lot of fun for journalists to cover the designs of these things. which once seen most promising? guest: there seem to be two general fools of thought when it comes to the disposable or air-launched drones. one would be bring a lot of them . that is one of the experiments we bring up in the magazine. those are six-inch drones carried -- kind of an amazing test. a couple of fighter planes carried 103 of these small drones and let them out in a swarm. what is really interesting is the swarm communicated with each
other to separate, do different tasks. before them goes down, they know it. the other drones know it and will fill in. it is called self-healing. if you want to do have a lot released over one area, they have proven they can do this. that is advantageous in a lot of ways, especially given that these drones together can accomplish something one drone could do but there is a lot of redundancy. that is one pool of thought. that is the perdix experiment. that is exciting and new. on the other end of the spectrum is highly capable wingmen you they air-launch and would be another fighter aircraft that could do the risk your missions. right now, the paris air show is gearing up. the europeans have a very good stealthyo create a
radar-evading wingmen drone it would carry on a fighter and launch. it could go ahead of your manned aircraft and do everything the man aircraft might want to do, pave the way for an airstrike or something. opposite queued up ways of getting to the same problem, which is how to make a drone that cannot from the aircraft that can do exactly what you want it to do and have it either be expendable or smart enough to return home or to another aircraft for docking. there is research into making them not disposable. .hese are all design trade-offs when you look at the future of warfare, these are the systems and engineering challenges they have to solve to get this to the next level, to get the drone to be even more ubiquitous in the battle space. host: you mentioned drones becoming even more ubiquitous. drones are controversial because
people say they account for the growing number of civilian casualties in paces --places of conflict. tell us more about that. guest: there are two ways of looking at it, as with anything. one, you would say look at the trend from world war ii to today. it takes fewer bombs dropped on any target to destroy it. precision weapons have reduced civilian casualties historically speaking in a dramatic way. however, if you do not have the political will to act, you are more apt to use these weapons. there are more airstrikes but they are more precise. now we are talking about the future. now we are talking about something that could not only strike exactly where you want it to strike but when you want it to strike. if some of these civilian casualties are caused because you are blowing up a house that has weapons in it or you are blowing up a hardened
shelter located near a hospital , what if he fired the missile-flash drone and it loiters over the target for a day waiting for the high-value target to come out an s.u.v. or waiting for the airplane to come out of the bunker or what have you? it will hit it exactly at that moment where the civilian casualties will be the lightest. that is the kind of tactical flexibility these drones provide. that would in theory reduce civilian casualties as well. these things are getting more precise instead of less. the more precise it gets, the more you are tempted to use them. that is the trade-off. that is over my pay grade, but that is where the technology is pushing the debate. host: the phone lines are lighting up. let's go to the phones. we have jack calling in from bloomfield, new jersey, on the independent line. caller: good morning. a question for the author.
i'm coming from a former army perspective where air defense artillery has a branch stagnant for a long time. now the enemy gets a vote, too. as drones become cheaper and smaller and more ubiquitous on if yould, i'm curious know anything about what future trends might look like as a countermeasure from air defense artillery perspective? i'm sure you are familiar with the recent episode where a patriot missile was used to engage several thousand dollars worth of drones. i'm not sure exactly who flew it. is a was used to engage it. their trade-off is we are talking millions of dollars of a weapon to she invesco a cheap capability as soon can be flooded with mass. i wonder if you know anything about it from your end.
thank you. guest: there is a booming industry and killing drones in military circles because of what the caller is saying. he is spot on. there are a lot of systems, drones hunting drones, everything from nets to lasers. there is a program to mount a laser on a humvee which can shoot a drone while the humvee is moving. all you have to do is blind the drone or burn a hole in it and it will render ineffective. shooting a high-end missile -- a surface-to-air missile designed to hit a fast-moving aircraft or enemy fighter is not a good way of knocking drones out of the sky. but rest assured, there are a lot of people looking at ways of downing these because they know what a risk they are. you have to have a radar system and way to detect them. they are pretty small. that is part of their appeal. they come in all shapes and sizes. that is definitely part of what
the army and air force, everyone is looking at ways of knocking these cheap things down without breaking the bank doing it. host: we have a question from jan via tweet. can't they think of something good to use them for? what other uses for these drones? guest: the uses are only limited by your imagination and the f.a.a. hugeh and rescue is a booming area for drone use. one of then paris, most popular drones in the world have been used on the battlefield for years and years. boeing owns the subsidiary that makes these. they have been operating in australia monitoring oil pipelines in australia for a couple of years to make sure they know how to do that. they are marketing that
internationally. scientific research, monitoring wildlife, monitoring oil pipelines. small drones do bridge inspections. wedding photography. the proliferation is not limited to military uses at all. the fact it came out of the military seems to -- and the wardrobe -- people think predators and things dropping hellfire. that is a legacy that hopefully will change as people see more civilian uses from these .nmanned aircraft the limitations are not really based on engineering but more political or the public's. feeling about them. there is no reason you cannot get in an airplane now that has no pilot and fly from one city to the other. most of that flight is regulated by the flight control computer anyway, but people are leery
about getting an airplane that does not have a pilot. the public is going to have to be brought along and made aware the drone world is bigger than just the military. having said that, the military has some interesting research and development money to spend. we tend to focus on whether it is going. the civilian uses trail behind quickly these days. host: let's go to joe who has been patiently holding the line in pennsylvania. he is a democrat. caller: how are you doing? host: great, thank you. caller: are there any concerns in your mind with these disposable drones? if one were to go down in enemy territory used in a military application, they would be recovered, as to the technology and engineering within it that they might be able to utilize for their benefits to disable them? that is my question.
guest: the short answer, yes. that is part of the engineering trade-off. if you make them too capable and they go down, they can be reverse engineered. you can tell what they can and cannot see, what payload they are carrying, if they are carrying something that could intercept intelligence, than the enemy would know that is what the drone is doing. part of making disposable drones is making them cable -- capable enough but dumb enough that they can be lost and that risk is minimized. if an army helicopter goes down, one of the things the army does is blow it up on the ground to keep an enemy from learning about the system or even getting propaganda. becomeave gone down and more trophies used for information warfare, what they call propaganda. that is part of the trade-off.
and yes, it is a concern. the other thing you hinted at which is another concern is if these drones are talking to each other, and someone could intercept that signal and make that entire swarm useless. that security, the cyber security, is also extremely important. that is why if you make them smarter, they are operating independently, they are not depending on a direct signal from an operator on the ground. that tends to be a more secure way of operating a drone. they can be jammed and will do their thing even if you lose the signal. those are some of the peripheral engineering problems that go into what you want your drone to do, how you make it, and how advanced you make it. that is a shrewd question indefinitely something people have to consider on the front and when they are making them, not operating them. from we have william
chesapeake, virginia, on the line for independents. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, basically what we have is "popular mechanics" operating for the military-industrial complex. i think those magazines are best use as 12 paper. how much does this cost? they are not good for toilet paper. they cost a lot but they cost less than unmanned airplanes. airplanes air systemsg for all the that keep them alive. that is a lot more extensive to make and more complicated engineering. the other way they are cheaper in the long run is that they can stay in the air longer. -s, can put a youtube -- u unmanned aircraft, over a target
for a limited time. can sleep and eat and not everything else. a drone state over a target a lot longer. that is a cost savings. pentagon, the caller may not believe it, does not want to waste money. they are good at wasting money, but that is not their goal. it is appealing to have a cheaper solution. drones are a cheaper solution for them, as well as not putting people in harm's way and having a smaller footprint, being able to cover more ground for efficiently. that is what is driving the pentagon's thinking in this. host: taking your calls as always. the line for republicans, democrats, and independents. in washington, d.c., calling on the line for independents. good morning. caller: thank you for taking my
call. the first thing that came to my mind, being a woman and not a military person, is that makes us in the united states more vulnerable. one of the good things about our country is that we are usually out of the line of fire, the ordinary line of fire. protected? americans because once we get a technology, other countries copy it very quickly and it can be too, so we are, in the line of fire. any community, anytime, and certainly capitals. i live in the capital and him always thoughtful that we are in the eye of the enemy. do ton earth do they protect ourselves against drones? thank you. guest: sure,, sure.
the lies of the drone does pose threats to the u.s. military overseas. the idea, this goes from drone which, the which is long-range missile that can reach the united states has been pointed at us for a long time. you cannot really blame drones for that. from a domestic terrorism perspective there is a lot of worry that you can take an one, put anunter dr expose on it, and flight into a public gathering. that is a real fear. the drone industry has addressed that in some ways. you have to fly a route before you program the g.p.s. to make your drone fly automatically some with. to flyt program a drone into the white house lawn unless i have already flown into it once. that is not the most comforting
feeling. but honestly, there are easier ways to kill lots of people than with a drone. unfortunately, we see that all the time with guns, vehicles. even driving through a crowd is a more efficient way of killing a lot of folks than flying a drone. realis not something controlled aircraft pilots have not been able to do for a long time as well. i think the domestic threat of drones is a little overrated. however, there are so many of them that there are bound to be more incidents that come up. there are bad actors that will do bad things with whatever technology comes out. put out versus other people, that is true as a rule. however, there are so many independent drone research and develop and shops across the world now, a lot of the military
driven, they do not need our technology necessarily. there are fantastic drone research programs and they have direct purposes. they want to make sure they can identify ships that are coming so they can dominate the waterways off of china. they have got very specific things they want to do with their drones. attackingt include the domestic united states. i hope that answers ann's question. host: we have michael calling in from uniontown, pennsylvania. how are you? caller: hanging in there. i am an older guy. the drone stuff is new for me.
a drone as small as they say they are, do they or do they just fly around spotting stuff and somebody else goes and attacks? like, whatng and i'm kind of weapon could they have on there that would do any kind of damage? i am not into this, so that is my only question. do they actually attack somebody? and if they do, with what? as small as they are, what could you attack somebody with? i don't know. i am looking at it. guest: he makes a good point. you go to radioshack or sharper image nca drone about this size. you go to the air and space museum and see how big these drones are.
give us a sense of the size and scale here. lethality of the drone in a lot of ways is based on the size and the warhead it can carry. drones are best at spotting things. they are best at flying over targets, staying over for a long time, flying into a dangerous place and spotting targets without putting a pilot at risk. the most dangerous thing about drone is its ability to spot targetsplace and spotting targes without putting a pilot at and r designator on it. it can guide a munition to the target. that makes it one of the most dangerous things on the battlefield even if it is small. the shrinking size of sensors and electronics has made small drones even more lethal from an information perspective. the more information they can gather, more lethal the united states military is going to be because they can employ precision weapons.
position weapons. just because it is small does not mean it is not a threat. we go back to the imaginations that get -- ammunitions. the israelis are marketing something right now in paris where they have a five and 10 kilogram, about a 20 pound warhead that can be delivered on point when they want it to be there. it depends on the size of the drone and they are coming in all shapes and sizes. there is a global hawk that can take off and estate over the atlantic ocean, stay up for a long time. noa uses them for hurricane hunting, they are jet powered drones, the reaper and
predator are of that mold. then there are smaller quad copters and a switchblade can be fired, so you carry that into combat and you shoot it into the air and the wings come out and they can do reconnaissance for a small unit. they come in all shapes and sizes. if you put a small warhead on a switchblade you can drop it on a sniper position. or you can create a bigger version and have a drop on a tank. be, do not be, do not judge a drone based on the small ones that come out, or the large ones, there is really every kind you can imagine. they are lighter than air, unmanned, that can service communication or surveillance platforms.
so if you can think it, it is unmanned at this point. one step further a lot of demand alot of the manned aircraft will have the options of flying empty. it is in the way that people understand the technology and we may have to start rewriting the terms to encompass what the weapons systems actually do. host: we have jeff on the line for independents. caller: good morning. about 12 years ago i was in arizona, and a friend of mine was a service technician for microwave towers and systems. when he was up on a tower he noticed, he thought it was a dragonfly buzzing around him and that it fell.
it was a drone and you took it to an engineer and they looked at it with a microscope and found no fewer than eight and nnas into thee wings and body of this thing. apparently it was refueling itself by, it was electrical powered and it would circle a microwave tower or fly along the powerline three charge the batteries, which would give it a very long range really, and lifespan. and uh, it had three cameras, extremely small cameras, i mean almost nanotechnology cameras and one -- he took it to a university over there, the
engineer where he got his degree from, but word got out that they had and military types came and snatched it up unapologetically. joe: no offense to the caller, as crazy as this sounds, and i'm not saying the story is true, but every piece of what you are talking about is being researched. there are drones so small you would confuse them for an insect. that is being researched. flying them near a building or pay much anywhere is actually extremely difficult. you go back to this ability, having something that small and expendable and infusing it with too much technology does not make a lot of sense, but when you want to get into somewhere, client side somewhere and you -- fly inside somewhere and do
reconnaissance something that small does not have too much range but it does make sense. repowering or recharging from the power lines, that has been researched as well. you can actually perch on them or fly nearby and they have docking stations in the civilian market now or you can put your phone down and it will recharge just being close to the charger. it sounds like science fiction, but it is based on real research. very small cameras, absolutely. that is part of it. small antennas, that is part of it. put it all together and you either create a great conspiracy theory story like this or stumble onto actual research. in my experience, it is not a lot of military research happening outside of test ranges, so that part of the story may be does not make a tennis sense. all of the technology -- ton of sense.
all the technology existing in the story does exist. is anjoe pappalardo author ♪ >> and c-span's washington journal, live every day with news and policy issues that impact you. gingrich onewt president trump. book ono discusses his how innovators and enlightened consumers are transforming the lives of animals. and a columnist on his book about change in the political culture in liberalism and western values. be sure to watch "washington
journal" live is sunday morning at 7:00 a.m.. join the discussion. sunday night, mike lee talks about forgotten historical figures who five against big government. he is joined by acting solicitor general. gradually,e to you other people i know you if you ask them who they thought should get more credit than they get and in this case, iroquois indic -- indian chief. he understood. they lived here for centuries before we were our own country. i was intrigued because his is not a name that most americans know anything about and yet he had a profound impact on our government because he enabled benjamin franklin to learn about federalism and