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The Air Warfare Symposium, conducted by the US Air Force Association on 27 and 28 February 2020, may go down in history as an event where history was foretold. It was here, on the morning of 28 February 2020, that Elon Musk, the quintessential disruptor, set the cat among the pigeons. In a room overflowing with Air Force personnel, many fighter pilots among them, Musk famously predicted the end of the manned fighter aircraft.
Much consternation followed, and copious amounts of newsprint were invested in the counter-narrative that flowed, mainly from the US Air Force and its veterans. Notably, much of the criticism of Musk’s proclamation was aimed at targeting him personally as a ‘head-line grabber’, rather than disproving his assertion through solid logic and evidence. This is probably indicative of the fact that Musk’s prediction may hold more than a modicum of truth.
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History Tells a Story. History is replete with examples of path-breaking inventions being viewed with disdain at inception and thought either impractical or even impossible. For instance, Marshal Ferdinand Foch, the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces in 1918 was quite dismissive of aviation, and had famously said that “airplanes are interesting toys, but of no military value.”
The past Century, and the significant role that air power has played in conflicts therein, from WWI and WWII to the Gulf Wars as well as the 1971 Indo-Pak wars, bear testimony to the inaccuracy of Marshal Foch’s proclamation. However, in a similar vein, it may be imprudent to wish away the monumental technological advancements of recent years and the potential for change that they portend, merely because such changes may be undesirable, sound improbable, or, in some cases, seem outlandish.
The age of unmanned systems
While airpower inarguably retains great value in present-day warfare, it is rapidly imbuing an unmanned character. The US Department of Defence (DoD), in its Unmanned Aircraft Systems Roadmap 2005-2030, defines UAVs as “A powered aerial vehicle that does not carry a human operator, uses aerodynamic forces to provide vehicle lift, can fly autonomously or be piloted remotely, can be expendable or recoverable, and can carry a lethal or non-lethal payload.”
The extensive use of drones by the US across the world, the clear advantages have drawn by Azerbaijan over Armenia in their recent conflict, and numerous other examples, point to the manner in which unmanned aircraft technology can serve as a force multiplier. As far back as 2013, analyst Dan Parsons had estimated that “future autonomous air refueling of unmanned systems would accord them the capability to remain ‘on station’ for months, and allow all roles from combat to cargo handling.” The question that bears consideration, therefore, is an unmanned aircraft (drones) become the mainstay of airpower in the near future (2030)?
Advanced Air Defence Systems
Concomitant with the advent of unmanned aerial systems, modern Air Defence has also witnessed significant advances in capability. Integrated Air Defence Systems (IADS) have become the order of the day, characterized by highly mobile sensors and weapons, organized in a multi-layered manner. Within these systems, weapons like the Russian S-400 and Chinese HQ-9 cover a significantly large area. Analysts estimate that Russian IADS deployed on NATO’s Eastern Flank threaten to keep NATO Air Power at arm’s length.
AD Systems Vs Drones
While AD systems have evolved, an increasing number of actors are opting to use drones as a mitigating measure. For instance, in mid-2020, Turkish supplied drones assisted the Libyan Govt of the National Accord in destroying Russian Pantsir SHORADS being used by rebel forces. Similarly, the drone attacks on Aramco in Saudi Arabia also underscored the relative advantages that these unmanned aerial systems possess. In this instance, Saudi Arabian Air Defence Systems proved helpless when two oil facilities were attacked by alleged Houthi rebels, who launched 18 drones and seven cruise missiles against two facilities on 14 September 2019. Evidently, unmanned aerial systems in conjunction with long-range missiles, offer an option that is more viable against expensive, highly capable AD systems, as compared to equally expensive, and resource-intensive manned aircraft.
Modern long-range missiles
As the US plans for an increasingly challenging ‘great power competition’ scenario with China, the Pentagon appears to have realized that air support may not be readily available to ground troops caught in a high-intensity conflict over heavily congested air spaces. Accordingly, the US Army has rated ‘Long Range Precision Fire’ as its highest priority. In consonance with this outlook, Lockheed Martin’s website advertises the development of a next-generation, modular Precision Strike Missile, in conjunction with the Army. Long-range ballistic/ quasi-ballistic trajectory missiles offer the government a relatively cheaper option to undertake the precision attacks, as compared to the large number of prohibitively expensive manned aircraft squadrons, currently maintained for such a role.
The future air force
From a Balanced to an Unmanned Force. At present, many Air Forces across the world are striving to achieve a balance between manned and unmanned systems, based on threat perceptions, budgets, and desired capabilities. However, as alluded to by Elon Musk, the day of the manned aircraft may soon be over. This flows from the following aspects:-
The cost of unmanned aircraft will be significantly lower than manned aircraft. Financial savings will accrue, not only from the relatively lower cost of Unmanned Aircraft (UA) but also from the fact that expenditure on training will evolve. This would, initially cover ground-based controllers and, eventually, to no controllers at all, as UAs gradually become completely autonomous. This will lead to further savings resulting from the reduced requirement of flying to maintain the pilot currency, decreased pay and allowances expenditure, etc.
The potential losses suffered in battle would not include precious human lives. Countries will increasingly realize that sending in unmanned aircraft to penetrate defended air space may be more cost-effective. Justin Bronk, the Editor of RUSI Defence Systems, had predicted a “significant move towards unmanned systems for vanguard penetrating roles”.
Manned aircraft carry missiles, as unmanned aircraft. The features mandated onboard an aircraft designed for manned flight are significantly more than on an unmanned one, e.g. ejection seats, Head-Up Displays, etc. At present, an airstrike into hostile or contested areas mandates a comprehensive air package comprising a wide array of aircraft, from AWACS to EW escorts, AD escorts, et al. In effect, the number of actual strike aircraft in a package is only a small proportion of the overall number of aircraft deployed. In an unmanned scenario, this requirement will reduce drastically, leading to further cost-saving.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) driven unmanned aircraft
AI is slowly becoming ubiquitous in nature, and organizations across the world are scrambling to harness the immense potential of this niche technology. Militaries are no different, and numerous air forces have also invested heavily in research and development in this field. DARPA recently undertook a simulated flight combat competition pitting a top US fighter pilot against AI in five rounds of combat. The AI program won all five rounds in under two minutes. While this may not lead to a definitive conclusion that the fighter pilot is no longer required, it does point to the possibilities that the future portends.
Land and sea-based long-range vectors
Apart from the effect that UAs will have on the size, role, and capabilities of a future Air Force, the advent of long-range, precision vectors sea-based and land-based ï¿½ will also play a key role. The following aspects assume salience:-
Existing land-based capabilities, already extend to thousands of kilometers, which comfortably covers most areas in India’s immediate vicinity. Added to this is the strategic location of India’s island territories, where mobile, long-range missile batteries (Brahmos) could be positioned. This would be able to exert influence over large swaths of sea areas, including choke points. Such deployment of missiles, in lieu of aircraft, would accrue financial savings as well. This derives from the fact that expensive airfields would no longer need to be maintained for manned flights on these islands.
With regard to sea-based vectors, it is common knowledge that 70 percent of the earth is covered with water which, as a corollary, also implies accessibility for sea-based forces to almost every part of the globe. For instance, in the Indian context, the long-range Nirbhay missile (also a product of ‘Made in India’) is reported to have advanced features, including sea-skimming/ terrain-hugging and loiter capabilities. It is also estimated to be capable of an extended range of over 1000 Km. Coupled with this, the development of modern, sea-based, long-range vectors provide naval forces the capability to address targets deep in the hinterland. Therefore, the need for air forces to traverse long distances, using multiple support aircraft (AWACS/ FRA), escorts, etc, to strike distant targets is steadily diminishing.
The issues highlighted above are indicative of the role of future air forces being limited primarily to supporting friendly forces in the Tactical Battle Area. Collectively, these aspects along with developments in the field of unmanned systems, buttress the case for a re-evaluation of the future structure of air forces.
The smart way ahead
USA has drawn out a clear roadmap for UA induction, including fighter aircraft. It may be prudent to adopt a similarly aspirational outlook and plan for a calibrated move from manned to completely unmanned and autonomous air power. In the case of India, with adversarial nations to the West and North, the savings accrued from charting the unmanned course would free up budgets for much-required capabilities such as additional Mountain Strike Corps, Submarines, and Aircraft Carriers also carrying unmanned aircraft.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi has clearly laid down the guidance and vision for the Country in terms of adoption of innovations, AI, niche technologies, and the need to ‘leapfrog’ capability gaps. His expectations and intent were made amply clear through his articulation that “India is placed to leverage power of technology and leapfrog into the future.” In the military sense, the low-hanging fruit is airpower, which can easily evolve to becoming a completely unmanned force in the medium term.
China is investing heavily in AI and niche technologies, many of which will enable and drive a move to unmanned aerial assets. It would be short-sighted at best, and disastrous at worst, for India to be left behind in this race for transformation into unmanned airpower. Hence, while it may be tempting to dismiss claims such as those made by Elon Musk as outlandish, and easy to provide convenient self-serving logic for retaining manned air forces, it may result in India sliding backward, rather than surging forward in the race for technology and military capabilities. Hence, embracing unmanned solutions in lieu of the current philosophy of manned aircraft will be operationally relevant, financially prudent, and conceptually futuristic. We need to open our eyes and mind to see that the future is truly unmanned. (IANS/SP)
Divorce is a hard fact in someone's life because it can affect all aspects of life like social, economic, and living status. Conditions become tougher if you have children. Recovering from divorce is also a painful process but good thing is that it is possible to get through it and place better in terms of both finances and emotions. The impact of divorce on finances can be life-lasting but taking precautions and thorough investigations of options can help a lot not only to save unnecessary costs but also some other hidden areas where you weren't aware. Following are some tips to save money during a divorce.
1.Avoid advice from everyone
People like your friends, family members, colleagues, neighbors, etc. will start giving unsolicited advice during the divorce process when you discuss it with them. They will share their own experiences and horror stories and advice on how to handle financial issues during the divorce process. Get advice only from those you trust. In this regard, attorneys or financial experts are the best options to save money during the divorce process.
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2.Consider your spouse
It can be challenging for someone who has started the divorce process to think about the soon-to-be ex-spouse's best interests and financial wellbeing. While making decisions about assets and finances, considering not only your interests but also your spouse's interests can help you to reduce divorce process time. You can save your own and your spouse's money if you spend less time in such negotiations because times spend with the attorney will also be shortened.
3.Goodbye to the joint bank account
You should close all joint bank accounts which were in use of you and your spouse especially credit base account. Block major and supplementary credit and debit cards. Your spouse can use it and you can suffer heavy financial loss. Closing of all joint accounts should be the first step to cut down financial loss during divorce proceedings.
4.Open a new checking account
In continuation of the previous point, open your new checking account. This will help you in terms of not only building up of financial history but also your credit record. Credit history will be helpful if you apply for a loan or any other credit facility. This financial history will let you control your money during the divorce process. If your bank account is not a joint account but you own it, then make sure that your spouse was not using supplementary debit or credit cards. If the spouse was using then block it immediately.
Divorce can include many additional and sometimes hidden costs along with routine costs. This can bring more stress and worries to your life. Saving money can help you to fight such financial status. Force savings every month in this regard can help a lot. You can do this by opening a savings account and setting up a debit order from your checking account.
Recovering from divorce is also a painful process but good thing is that it is possible to get through it and place better in terms of both finances and emotions.Getty pictures
6.Keeping track record of the expense
You may not be interested in maintaining a record sheet of your expenses during your married life. If so, then you should start now. Analyze your bank statement critically because expenses can be out of control now. Review your daily cost of things and make critical decisions to cut down unnecessary costs.
7.Chalk out budget
Ideally, a proper budget should be chalked out to control expenses and save money during the divorce process. Select important segments/areas of your lifestyle and allocate a budget to each of them. After allocation of budget, stick to it strictly every month. This can be problematic in the beginning but become easy when you become used to it. By doing this, you will also be able to manage your savings account by allocating money.
8.Own health insurance
Medical emergencies and different health issues can be sudden or without any notice. So, it is necessary to have a health insurance plan in order to not only pay bills of medicines and lab tests but also an unexpected expensive hospital stay. If your health insurance has previously been covering your spouse then it is advisable to set up your own health insurance plan. This can help you to save money.
9.Amendments in your will and beneficiaries
If you have already decided about your will beneficiaries then it is the right time to update it. Now your divorce is under process, so, the content of your will and beneficiaries should also be significantly changed. This is much needed because it is possible that now you have children and who you like to allocate your property and saving especially if the children were not present when you drew up the will.
10.Change power of attorney
Many people assign power of attorney to their spouses during the marriage. Now it is essential to update and end the power of attorney and signing authority given to the spouse. This will help you in terms of legal and financial matters.
11.Apply for online divorce
Advancement in technology has made it easy for everyone to save time and money. Now in the United States, it is easy to apply for a divorce online. You can save time and attorney fees by downloading all the required divorce documents online. You should not worry about which document and how downloaded because many local court websites can give detailed information about how to file divorce online and which documents are needed.
12.Make use of the mediator
It is extremely helpful to use the mediator to decide terms and conditions between you and your spouse. Although an attorney is needed in certain matters of divorce use of a mediator will help you in saving attorney fee
Many spouses are very conscious about expensive assets and luxuries that are going to be distributed among spouses after the divorce. So, they make decisions to splurge on these luxuries. It is advisable not to splurge as the cost of divorce proves may be past your expectation.
14.Do it yourself (DIY) divorce
Many people are unable to afford the cost of attorney and mediator, so, they now try to handle things by themselves as much as possible. The rate of divorce and its cost is increasing day by day. This factor making "do it yourself (DIY) divorce" popular. DIY spouses are using information given by some attorneys who are offering free consultation on their first meeting.
Disclaimer: ( The article is sponsored and hence promotes some commercial links)
Gone are those days when people, sports enthusiasts, and governments lined up to host the Olympics. Hosting the Olympics, once seemed to be an immensely prideful event, but it has now transformed into an economic burden. Host cities grapple with a plethora of problems which mainly include construction delays, cost overruns, security issues, and environmental concerns.
The ongoing Covid-19 pandemic has more or less aggravated the problems. The Winter Olympic Games are scheduled for 2022 in Bejing, China. Furthermore, Paris and Los Angeles have been recently nominated as the hosts for the 2024 and 2028 Olympics Games respectively. Both cities have held the Games on two occasions previously, with Los Angeles hosting as recently as 1984. Simply submitting a bid to the International Olympics Committee (IOC) costs up to millions of dollars. Host cities typically have to spend $50 million to $100 million in fees to a slew of consultancy agencies, event management companies, etc.
Hosting the Olympics is more costly than the bidding process. For instance, London spent $14.6 billion for hosting the Games in 2012. On the other side, Beijing spent a lavish $42 billion for the Games in 2008. Meanwhile, the Russians spent $51 billion dollars on the 2014 Sochi Winter Olympics. Making, it the costliest Olympic Games in the history of the Olympics.
Governments of host cities and bid teams love to brag about the legacy of hosting the Games. But the hidden costs of such a massive project is too evident to hide. Such megaprojects require additional employment, as well as subsequent improvement of the pre-existing facilities and public infrastructure. Most of these projects are fraught with costs overruns, shoddy work and a lack of long term vision.
According to a study conducted at the prestigious Oxford University In England, by Danish geographer Bent Flyvbjerg and American journalist Allison Stewart, which looked into the individual economic parameters of hosting the Summer Olympic Games between 1960 and 2012. The findings were astonishing, they found out that the Olympic Games overrun the initial cost estimate with 100 per cent consistency. No other megaproject is this consistent regarding cost overruns.
Athens, in particular, seems to have been the tipping point. The city pridefully hosted the Games in 2004, which ended up costing them €9 billion (a whopping $11 billion at today's exchange rate). The offset of the Games was in disguise the onset of Greece's tumultuous years. The country now is in total disarray, with sky-high unemployment rates, failing economic apparatus, record levels of homelessness, all among the grandiose venues built for the Games.
The conclusion is simple, hosting the Olympics is an extravagant affair. If not planned properly, it tends to result in a severe economic crisis for the host city. If the host city lacks facilities and public infrastructure to support the excess crowds pouring in, not hosting the Olympics may be the best option.
Indian wrestler Ravi Kumar (57kg) and Deepak Punia (86kg) enjoyed fruitful outings at the Tokyo Olympic Games as they secured semifinal berths in their respective weight categories at the Makuhari Messe on Wednesday.
On the opening day of the wrestling competition, Ravi Kumar defeated Bulgaria's Georgi Vangelov 14-4 on technical superiority to reach the last-four in the men's 57kg category, while compatriot Deepak Punia overcame China's Zushen Lin 6-3 on points to advance to the semifinals.
Ravi Kumar will take on Nurislam Sanayev of Kazakhstan in the last-four, while Punia will be up against David Morris Taylor of the USA.
Earlier, Ravi Kumar had won his opening-round bout by technical superiority against Colombia's Oscar Tigreros to secure a quarterfinal spot. Competing in the Round-of-16 bout against the Colombian wrestler, the 23-year-old Ravi Kumar, who is making his Olympic debut, showed no nerves as he dominated the bout to win by technical superiority (13-2).
Ravi Kumar landed attack after attack and went 13-2 up, winning the bout by technical superiority with minutes to spare. In wrestling, building up a 10-point lead over the opponent results in a victory by technical superiority.
India's 86kg freestyle wrestler Deepak Punia showed no signs of the niggle that had forced him to pull out of the Poland Open Ranking Series in Warsaw in June, as he defeated Nigeria's Ekerekeme Agiomor on technical superiority to secure a quarterfinal berth.
He got his Olympic campaign to a fine start as he was in control from the start of the bout and hardly ever allowed his Nigerian opponent any room to maneuver his moves, finally winning with a 12-1 on technical superiority.
Punia, who had also suffered an elbow injury just before the Games, was slow at the start but came into his own as the bout progressed, inflicting takedowns at regular intervals to earn points.
The Indian wrestler eased into a 4-1 lead at the break and extended his lead comfortably in the second period.
Punia, the silver medallist from the 2019 world wrestling championships, then set up a clash with China's Lin Zushen in the quarterfinals and defeated him 6-3.