Why Not the Killer Drones?
Those who say the new unmanned aerial vehicles will never (notice how that word “never” is so frequently abused in the history of warfare!) take the place of a manned fighter, should consider the following quote from the Danger Room:
After all, robot planes can pull far more Gs than a human-piloted plane, potentially making for a far more impressive display.
Interesting that the article is concerned with the use of drones to fly in formation, like the Thunderbirds, but yours truly was thinking of something more ominous, as we wrote a while back:
These killer drones need not be supersonic but may possess a unique design allowing them to outmaneuver any plane that flies. Their primary advantage will be the ability to endure astonishing G forces far beyond the 9 G’s a human operator could safely tolerate.
Imagine such future hunter/killer drones which lie in wait for traditional jet fighters on a mission, like eagles who can spot their prey from great distances. Some claim that such computerized weapons can never replace trained pilots nor duplicate his reactions, but considering the speeds and accuracy of modern weapons when response time to a missile attack is down to mere seconds, we don’t see any other way for aircraft to survive except for the robots to take charge.
This should come as no surprise, since all air vehicles in past history have followed a similar course of development:
- Balloons in the Civil War are used as scouts and for artillery spotting.
- Airships (blimps, dirigibles) are used as scouts, for naval and land artillery spotting, and even as the first long-range bombers
- Heavier-than-air planes follow the same exact progression, but also start carrying light machine guns to usher in the age of the dogfighter.
So we see the UAVs simply following a natural pattern. The traditional services will never lead this effort though (it was the CIA which first used the Predator with Hellfire strike missiles), especially with the impending deployment of a new $100 million manned fighter, the JSF Lightning II. Still, we expect they will gradually come around to the idea, though kicking and screaming all the way!