Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. William Waterstreet
The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter is one such craft that is so advanced, it makes crewing seem obsolete, according to Popular Science.
In older jets, the crew is needed to perform manual duties like operate radar, monitor a high-speed data link for plane-to-plane communications and texts from ground troops, or sift through data before firing on targets. In the F-35, there are 8 million lines of software code that make most of those duties obsolete.
Combat pilot Capt. Joseph Stenger, among others in the military, sees the plane as the key to America’s continued air superiority. However, it may bring about the end of an iconic American profession.
“If another manned fighter comes up, great. If not, that stinks for the next generation," he told Popular Science.
Still, many argue there will always be a need for human pilots.
“We will never trust a weapons platform to make life and death decisions,” said Heather Penney, an Air National Guard F-16 fighter pilot who deployed twice to Iraq.
For now, unmanned aircraft will continue to be operated with the help of pilots.
If the Air Force consists mostly of unmanned aerial vehicles relying on data links, and those links are fried with an electric pulse, then the drone fails.
“Then the bad guy doesn’t even need to shoot it down. The effect is the same. They’ve won the air space,” Penney said.
Pilots, on the other hand, have missions, and will follow through to completion.
A small unmanned aerial vehicle built by service academy cadets is shown here flying above ground. This type of small UAV was used by cadets and midshipmen from the U.S. Air Force Academy, the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy, during a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency-sponsored competition at Camp Roberts, California, April 23-25, 2017. During the competition, cadets and midshipmen controlled small UAVs in "swarm" formations to guard territory on the ground at Camp Roberts. (U.S. Air Force photo)
Drones have been used in conflicts across the globe and will play an even more important role in the future of warfare. But, the future of drones in combat will be different than what we have seen before.
The U.S. military can set itself apart from others by embracing autonomous drone warfare through swarming — attacking an enemy from multiple directions through dispersed and pulsing attacks. There is already work being done in this area: The U.S. military tested its own drone swarm in 2017, and the UK announced this week it would fund research into drone swarms that could potentially overwhelm enemy air defenses.
I propose we look to the amoeba, a single-celled organism, as a model for autonomous drones in swarm warfare. If we were to use the amoeba as this model, then we could mimic how the organism propels itself by changing the structure of its body with the purpose of swarming and destroying an enemy.
Soldiers from 4th Squadron, 9th U.S. Cavalry Regiment "Dark Horse," 2nd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division, are escorted by observer controllers from the U.S. Army Operational Test Command after completing field testing of the Armored Multi-Purpose Vehicle (AMPV) Sept. 24, 2018. (U.S. Army/Maj. Carson Petry)
The Army has awarded a $575 million contract to BAE Systems for the initial production of its replacement for the M113 armored personnel carriers the service has been rocking downrange since the Vietnam War.
President Donald Trump has formally outlined how his administration plans to stand up the Space Force as the sixth U.S. military service – if Congress approves.
On Tuesday, Trump signed a directive that calls for the Defense Department to submit a proposal to Congress that would make Space Force fall under Department of the Air Force, a senior administration official said.