Computers You Should Know, Military-Grade Awesome

The MQ-9 Reaper makes you want to rethink drones

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MQ-9 Reaper taking off

Skynet called and said quote “All your tanks are belong to us”.


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MQ-9 Reaper flies off in the sunset

One of the current US Military drones is manufactured by a company with a name very fitting for this site. The General Atomics MQ-9 Reaper is the realization of Skynet for the modern age.  Although it’s not self aware yet it is a fully armed unmanned weapons platform. The Reaper uses a 900 horsepower turboprop to give the aircraft a 14 hour endurance fully loaded with armament. Keep in mind this is by using the inner two hard points for external fuel tanks still that’s a rather respectable range at a 220mph cruising speed. With six hard points available the Reaper can carry 14 missiles fully loaded.  At 54 million dollars each it may not seem like the most economical way of delivering these. Still what is the cost of keeping Americans out of harms way while still looking good doing it?


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Have you played your Words with Friends turns yet?

Like all modern drones they are controlled by Air Force pilots sitting near Las Vegas fighting the long range war from the comforts of home. Below you will see a short two minute video from CNN that includes a couple points of interest. First around one minute is a Reaper using  a 500 pound bomb to take out two insurgents on a motorcycle. Second is a Reaper using a Hellfire to knock out four suspected terrorists.


Since World War II the US Air Force has been trying to fight the air wars without pilots. Even back in the late 40’s they were launching pilot-less drones after enemy bombers. The goal was to put no men in harms way. This is the future of warfare whether we welcome it with open arms or not.

[image credit for all images –]


  • Dad, I wanna be a pilot when I grow up, what should I do?

    More video games, son.

    • fodder650

      Remember the America's Army FPS? The problem there was that it put you through boot camp and training and such. Now it seems like Call of Duty is truly the way to teach the kids of tomorow

      • Especially when considering this…

        • fodder650

          So the Army of the future will more likely look like Second Life characters then blue tailed avatar thingies.

          That and we will just keep the old tech running far long then it should to ignore the fact that it still works. You know like the B-52 not being phased out until 2040 same as the A-10. That or how we just updated the C-130's AGAIN

          • Darpa vs. Reality isn't always a clear bet. We have pretty effective ways of blowing ourselves up now, not really a lot of need to keep upgrading practically.

            Advancing robots is pretty intimidating unless you have heavier arms.

          • fodder650

            BTW welcome to the century club. Not sure how long you've had your 100 rep. Someday I hope to be cool enough to get myself up that high

          • I mostly think it's an accounting error.

          • fodder650

            Ah I see another person who doesn't think the glass is half empty or half full. They wonder if the person who drank the other half had aids (and no i dont remember who i just stole that joke from)

          • The Professor

            If it's going to be robots vs robots and drones vs drones in future battles, how are winners going to be decided? Something like "Ah shucks, you killed all of my robots. Ok, you can have my country and treasure!" ? I don't think so. People will have to die to get a resolution to a battle, don't you think?

          • Unless we go back to the imperial version where soldiers form up and throw themselves at each other. The last standing or best form wins. Televised of course and voted on.

          • The Professor

            Nah, people will have to die, otherwise where's the sport? The next technology will be to trace the operators location and do a kinetic strike from orbit.

          • fodder650

            See I think you are missing the point of drones and smart weapons. Even though there are pilots in Las Vegas it's one less level of human interaction to not follow orders. Easier to be in control when you are the one truly in control of the hardware

          • The Professor

            I'm thinking of the best way to take out the drones and smart weapons, and that's to kill the operators. No one has an AI anywhere near being able to operate an autonomous weapon, so there will be have to be operators for the drones and robots. Kill them and their equipment, and force the enemy to get skin in the game by using real piloted craft and real troops. Make it hurt. Make them bleed real blood. Make them count mountains of their own dead. That's how to win.

          • fodder650

            That seems good until you realize the operators are in Nevada. If they try to attack us here it will raise the stakes of the game quite a bit

          • The Professor

            So raise them. If my people are dying because of enemy drones and the enemy isn't paying a price, I will find a way to make them pay up with interest. If the enemy doesn't like it, fine. Quit killing my people and I'll stop killing yours.

          • fodder650

            Right I mean dirty bombs in Vegas and such but if we keep pushing this logically we will get a call from some people in Black suits 🙂

          • The Professor

            I'm sure that we're not the first to play this version of "What If?" on the nets, and nothing we've said is anything new to any NSA spook who might be listening in (Hi there!). If it is, we're in deep trouble as a country.
            No, I'm just very concerned about where these 'bloodless' weapons are going to take us in future conflicts. I see them as very destabilizing, especially as more of our increasingly militarized domestic police forces use them on us, the citizens who are paying for them.

          • fodder650

            We get to watch the videos online and TV. What more do you want?! What do you think the news networks are for.

          • Just to jump in to this interesting discussion.

            Right now I think our use of drones for autonomous strikes on our enemy is self defeating. I'd rather have more CIA/NSA and the rest of the alphabet soup have more human intel. Instead of finding a suspected enemy by drone and then wiping him out we should be trying to scoop up and snatch these high ranking ones for more intel.

            Of course then we get into the whole subject of extracting that intel……

            But for the enemy conscripts I have no worries watching drone strikes on CNN.

            Bringing up our militarized police forces. That does raise flags when they are increasing their drone usage. How long before they use one with a weapon platform?

            I'm sure I'll be getting a knock on the door when a small platform that is obviously remote controlled comes across the compounds airspace. One well placed shot with the right weapon and down it comes.

          • The Professor

            We're pretty much on the same page then, except for the drones killing the conscripts part, and I really don't have a problem if they really are bad guys. What I have a problem with is the collateral civilian casualties. How often do they happen, and where can we get an honest answer? The military isn't trustworthy for that, and neither is the 'enemy' state government. If we can get a real answer, and find that there have been a lot of civilian casualties, who is going to be responsible, and what will be done? It's very troubling to me.

            We you do shoot one down, make sure that you mount the trophy for display.

          • "and find that there have been a lot of civilian casualties, who is going to be responsible, and what will be done? It's very troubling to me. "

            Nobody and Nothing. Always been that way. Depending who is in charge the only people that will complain are those that are against them. Sucks, but it is the way it is.

            Oh ya, I'll have it on display, until the black helicopters come for me 🙂

          • fodder650

            Just because you dont need men in the air doesn't mean you wont need them on the ground. In order to win a war it's a matter of land grab. Which, while we COULD do it, with robots is harder then using real boots on the ground. Im guessing the day the Marines go full robot is the day after never. So they will always be willing to go in and take some country over

          • You're right. The only way to take and hold ground is with infantry. Otherwise, you're just putting holes in that ground, and not getting anything accomplished. With these strange little wars where we're fighting an insurgency, it's more complicated than that, but it still comes down to taking and holding ground. You can't do that with a UAV, grunts have to be there physically.

          • fodder650

            History shows where the British tried to keep control of counties using air power in the 20's without boots on the ground. It didnt work

          • <img src="; width="500">

            Star Trek – "A Taste of Armageddon"

            "Overview: The crew of the Enterprise visits a planet whose people fight a computer simulated war with a neighboring enemy planet. The crew finds that although the war is fought via computer simulation, the citizens of each planet have to submit to real executions inside 'disintegration booths' based on the results of simulated attacks. The crew of the Enterprise is caught in the middle and are told to submit themselves voluntarily for execution after being 'killed' in an 'enemy attack'."

          • GlassOnion9

            I was just about to mention this episode. Damn you people and your brain-wave-stealing ways. Err…

          • Seems like frequently sci-fi takes the 'sentient robot weapons decide humans are bad' approach to commentary on automated war. This episode sticks in my head I think because it was a different take on the whole thing. To some extent I feel like back then computers were seen as being capable of infallible logic, so believing people of the future would follow was in the realm of possibility. While I would like to believe we are a little more wary of assigning infallibility to machines, people GPS driving off closed roads seems to indicate otherwise.

            I'll try to tilt the scanner in another direction for a bit, leave you alone with your thoughts.

          • GlassOnion9

            's alright. It gets lonely in here anyway

      • Call of Duty is too bunny hop still.

        I'll keep referring back to Bohemia Interactive's work. They did produce VSB-1 which is a Military trainer they sell. Then they dumbed it down for all of us in the cheap seats so we can play OFP and the ArmA series of shooters. About as close as I guess you can get right now for "realism". Nothing pisses me off more than hiking two or three kilometers in game, settling in to ambush and then getting "popped" by a sniper. 40 minutes gone and not a shot fired. GRRRR>

        [youtube IlXa9uoAoXc&feature=fvst youtube]

        • fodder650

          See that was part of what I liked about World War II Online. You cared more about your life because you had to fight so hard to get somewhere and secure your location. They kept making it easier and quicker to get back to the fight but still. When you spend 2 hours organizing a fight, you will fight smarter because you dont feel like marching back.

          • That game always interested me I just felt I was so late to the party it wouldn't be worth the effort. I know it is still going. I just don't have the extra time to get sucked in.

          • fodder650

            It is a real time sink plus it's now 10 years old. I believe you can play it for free now to try it out at least

  • Number_Six

    "…and then the Iranians sent a plastic model of it back to us…"

    /Drone jockeys swapping stories

  • mr. mzs zsm msz esq

    "They're flying long. They're flying hard. And they're making a big impact." US military commentary, taking on US tennis commentary for the crown in sexual innuendo since the '60s.

    • fodder650

      Well look at how it's shaped. It screams flying phallic symbol