posted on Feb, 2 2005 @ 04:52 PM
Originally posted by Broadsword20068
Pilots are NOT a dying breed, as there are still too many complexities to unmanned aircraft that a pilot overcomes.....
There is a lot of high level speculation inside the USAF, DoD, the US military aerospace industry and various think tanks (the Cato Institute in
particular) concerning whether combat pilots are indeed a dying breed or not.
Even at such high ranking and professional levels as just noted, there is little agreement on what the future holds for combat pilots.
So everyone on this thread commenting on the subject is certainly in good company and I therefore feel that there is no right or wrong answer, just
To that end and being one who does work around UAV's and forward thinking professionals in the industry I will briefly share my thoughts.
Hunter Killer drones such as the Hellfire armed Predators already deployed will see more and more service... these units fly relatively low and can
double as both an aerial ISR assest and a small weapons delivery platform seeking out targets of opportunity. Predators are not fully autonomous and I
think the military requires a certified pilot at the controls even though taking off and landing are autonomous.
Bombers are the next aircraft to see deployment as UAV's... note the X-45 as an example. There will still be the need for manned bombers
for the first wave air offensive where fixed targets such as military depots etc, need to be attacked I expect to see UAV's of the X-45/X-47 lineage
delivering ordinance autonomously in much the same manner as cruise missiles do, with the exception that the bomber comes back home (hopefully).
Fighters are the last aircraft I expect to go UAV, and for much the same reasons as Broadsword20068 described... although comlinks between ground
station and air vehicle are not as problematic as he sees.
With the technology available and forseen for the next 20 years or so - UAV fighters just are not practical and debatably feasible.
That's my take - I would have liked to go more in depth but time does not allow...