UAVs are Kings of the Skies-Followup
This just in via Small Wars Journal, an article titled Drones are taking over the Air Force. Further proof of the transformation of airpower as we know it:
We can see how the Air Force’s drones will soon crowd out manned aircraft inside its aircraft hangars. By 2013, software and communications improvements will allow the Air Force’s unmanned aircraft pilots to simultaneously fly three drones at one time, four in an emergency. Another factor supporting the likely proliferation of drones such as the Predator, Reaper, and Global Hawk is their low cost compared to new manned aircraft such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. According to the Government Accountability Office, $24.5 million will purchase a set of four MQ-9 Reaper hunter-killer drones plus a ground station and satellite relay. (See page 117 of this report) The latest guess of the price for a single F-35 fighter-bomber is $100 million. (See page 93.) This gap in cost led Defense Secretary Robert Gates to demand the cancellation of the manned F-22 Raptor program in order to fund the purchase of more drones for service in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Fueling this revolution are the PGMs, precision guided munitions, along with the advancements in sensor technology and GPS navigation. This allows smaller individual air weapons of the Information Age to do as much or more than the giant airwings of the old Industrial Age.