Warplanes: U.S. UAV Plans

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December 24, 2007: The latest U.S. Department of Defense policy on UAV development is, over the next 10-15 years, to let the droids take over all the recon duties, some bombing missions, as well as most SEAD (Suppressing Enemy Air Defenses). Recon is the most boring job for combat pilots, and SEAD is the most dangerous. SEAD is done in the opening stages of a campaign, in an effort to destroy the enemies anti-aircraft capabilities. This is very dangerous stuff, and few officers are complaining about turning it over to robots. UAVs are already doing a lot of recon work, and an increasing number of bombing missions. So there does not appear to be any problem in that department. But there will be no big effort to develop robotic fighters. Unless some other country shows some success at it, in which case the U.S. would have to jump in and maintain a competitive edge in this area.

In about twenty years, the use of robotic transports appears likely, and beyond that, robotic fighters are seen as inevitable. Robotic long range bombers are seen as a precursor for long range transports, and the current success of the Global Hawk UAV, which is the size of a commuter airliner, is seen as a model for larger bomber and transport UAVs in the near future.

 


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