We all know that pilots are expensive to train and even more politically expensive to retrieve when captured. So what is the future of military aviation?
So this is the X24 UCAV (Unmanned Combat Air Vehicle)
The Boeing Joint Unmanned Combat Air System X-45 is an unmanned combat air vehicle being developed for strike missions such as Suppression of Enemy Air Defence (SEAD), electronic warfare and associated operations. (That's all bad news if you are on the receiving end....)
Reconnaissance and limited strike missions roles are even now being carried out by 'drones'. These can be like the 'Predator' UAV (Unmanned Airbourne Vehicle), which can carry 4 hellfire missiles (you definately dont want to be looking at the business-end of one of these either) as well as camera stuff. They hang around waiting for something or someone interesting to pounce on.
The Rolls-Royce of the UAV world is the 'Global Hawk', which according to the glossy brochure is a 'high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aerial reconnaissance system designed to provide military field commanders with high-resolution, near real-time imagery of large geographic areas.' - Translated, that means that it goes up high for a long time and takes great pictures.
Listen out for more and more references to these in the news. Its planned that in the not too distant future, you will not see many manned aircraft at all. They will get more and more autonomous and be able to make their own decisions as to whether they will attack a particular target. - Which makes the 'Blue-on-Blue' blog below even more relevant.