F-16 fighter jet converted into drone




Those of us in the 1:1 scale RC flying world have been doing this for years.


So bigger, and much more deadly if it crashes... Great!


Also- Mythbusters probably could have done this ten years ago. smile


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...


EDI is a Warplane. EDI must have targets.


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).


"dogfight training"

For what? Is this not a bit like building cylons and then using them to help your soldiers practice archery?




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.


Why oh why did "someone" not put an inflatable mannequin in the pilot's seat!? Do these people have no sense of history?


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.


I'm sick of this government wasting money on non-productive projects. We need healthcare not drone fighter jets.


If they can use them for dogfight training, they can use them for dogfights. It won't be long.


Hello, massive employment program, disposable fighter jets.


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


People have to HURT before they need healthcare. This helps hurt people.


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.


"Call the ball, Mav... I mean, UAV."


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.