#1 By: pesco, September 24th, 2013 14:06
#2 By: Ian Wood, September 24th, 2013 14:13
Those of us in the 1:1 scale RC flying world have been doing this for years.
#3 By: Wolf, September 24th, 2013 14:14
So bigger, and much more deadly if it crashes... Great!
#4 By: Wolf, September 24th, 2013 14:14
Also- Mythbusters probably could have done this ten years ago.
#5 By: fuzzyfuzzyfungus, September 24th, 2013 14:24
Well, this is one way to solve the trouble the air force has been having recruiting enough drone pilots from among the wannabe fighter pilots: let the robots take over the fighters and leave the pilots limited options...
#6 By: wygit, September 24th, 2013 14:40
EDI is a Warplane. EDI must have targets.
#7 By: galaxies, September 24th, 2013 14:42
A human still flies the plane, albeit on the ground. They remotely wired his ground controls to the in-plane controls. It doesn't fly autonomously (thank goodness).
#8 By: Tyler Karaszewski, September 24th, 2013 14:47
For what? Is this not a bit like building cylons and then using them to help your soldiers practice archery?
#9 By: Scooter, September 24th, 2013 15:03
#10 By: rocketpj, September 24th, 2013 15:12
This is the short-term transition away from having any pilots at all. A drone can make high-g maneuvers far beyond anything a pilot can handle. Within a decade the concept of 'fighter pilot' will be an historical footnote, at least in NATO. Fighter pilots in other countries will be better described as 'drone targets', as will just about any military pilot outside of a rescue helicopter.
The drones in the air are only one part of the change. The potential for upheaval on the ocean is even more dramatic. A major part of current US dominance are the massively powerful carrier groups (any one of which outguns the next 12 most powerful militaries in the world, most of whom are allies). But there are prototypes out there for cheap autonomous underwater drones. How many $5000 plastic underwater drones full of explosives would it take to destroy a carrier? How large of a swarm of cheap underwater drones would it take to find and sink a multibillion dollar nuclear sub? After the first one sinks, the rest will be completely obsolete and might as well paint giant targets onto themselves.
Perhaps more alarmingly, it will be possible to build such things without much accountability - somebody could take out the US Navy without anybody genuinely knowing who to blame - though of course we can assume some weak oil country would be bombed into oblivion in short order.
Once the very attractive and appealing low-cost low-risk drone genies are out of the bottle, almost all current military hardware will be obsolete. Possibly not a bad thing, but it really depends on what and who replaces it.
#11 By: Jon Sowden, September 24th, 2013 15:21
Why oh why did "someone" not put an inflatable mannequin in the pilot's seat!? Do these people have no sense of history?
#12 By: Tim, September 24th, 2013 15:22
I'd say that society has already forgotten the lessons of the 2005 film Stealth, but that would imply a substantial number of people actually watched it.
#13 By: Kango Ru Foo, September 24th, 2013 15:24
I'm sick of this government wasting money on non-productive projects. We need healthcare not drone fighter jets.
#14 By: yadayada, September 24th, 2013 15:26
If they can use them for dogfight training, they can use them for dogfights. It won't be long.
#15 By: Tim Quinn, September 24th, 2013 15:39
Hello, massive employment program, disposable fighter jets.
#16 By: Lloyd Vancil, September 24th, 2013 15:45
Hello deniability? The idea of chair jockeys in charge of supersonic 9 g capable robots armed to the teeth with hellfire and sidewinder gives me a chill
#17 By: Dreamboat Skanky, September 24th, 2013 15:55
People have to HURT before they need healthcare. This helps hurt people.
#18 By: Jon Konrath, September 24th, 2013 16:21
Although using the F-16 for the conversion is new, they've been doing this since the early 70s. They first used old retired F-102s, then F-100s and more recently F-4s. They are used for live-fire training, so pilots can intercept and then blow them up. It's far from the unmanned autonomous combat thing you see in the movies.
And yeah, I'd rather just have the Air Force buy some copies of Ace Combat and a few XBoxes and do something else with the money. Unfortunately, Lockheed Martin has better lobbyists than poor sick people.
#19 By: cronopio, September 24th, 2013 16:24
Call the ball, Mav... I mean, UAV.
#20 By: fuzzyfuzzyfungus, September 24th, 2013 16:27
Strictly speaking, pilots have been (sometimes) losing dogfights with robots since the first fire-and-forget missile scored a kill (probably an early model sidewinder lucky enough to actually get an IR lock; but I don't know offhand). The question is how long humans will pilot the missile boats and assign targets to the robots, since it's not as though the world's supply of fighters with cannons mounted is getting any fresher.
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