The future of aerial warfare might involve fighter jet-sized drones that operate alongside manned jets using artificial intelligence software.
According to NBC News, research and testing are already underway on a project that would put the large and very sophisticated drones in the air, perhaps within just a few years.
Boeing, for example, is working on the Airpower Teaming System. And the XQ-58A Valkyrie, a drone that can travel as fast as 652 mph and was built by Kratos Unmanned Aerial Systems, is already being tested. The U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, based at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio, is trying to develop the next-generation technology through its Skyborg program.
"These drone aircraft are a way to get at that in a more cost-effective manner, which I think is really a game-changer for the Air Force," Paul Scharre of the Center for a New American Security told NBC.
Will Roper, an assistant secretary of the U.S. Air Force who is working on the AI project, told NBC the unmanned jets would have the ability to adapt to whoever is flying with them.
"I wouldn't be surprised if the AI becomes tailored to individual pilots," he said. "They're actually training their own AI that augments their strengths and weaknesses."
The unmanned jets, according to the report, could be used to draw fire away from the human-piloted planes — which can cost more than $100 million, compared to a few million for one of the drones. They could eventually be armed as well and could fire upon targets, but that feature would likely need input from a human.
The technology is just one of the many ideas being looked at as the military tries to advance to the future of warfare. Other things in development include exoskeletons, drone swarms, and high-tech guns and ammunition.
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