Saturday, June 10, 2017

R2D2 is My Copilot

That's interesting:

In April 2017 the U.S. Air Force demonstrated that F-16s equipped to operate as UAVs could successfully operate in formation with manned F-16s. This is all part of the “Loyal Wingman” program for eventually integrating combat UAVs with piloted warplanes. The F-16 UAV needed software that would allow it to fly in formation execute attack missions on its own, to avoid interference from jamming.

This is just the beginning of that capability. But it is beginning.

I had speculated on just such a capability five years ago when trying to think outside the box about Israeli attack option on Iran's nuclear facilities:

What if the Israelis haul out a bunch of their 200+ A-4s, F-4s, and Kfir C-7s from reserves and outfit them with GPS bombs? Would the Israelis get pilots to go on one-way suicide missions or simply land the planes after the strike at neutral sites so the pilots survive and who cares if the locals confiscate the planes in retaliation for unauthorized landings? Or could the Israelis turn these reserve planes into drones guided from the ground so only the ancient air frames are at risk? Or a mix, with a small number of piloted planes controlling 3 or 4 drone strike planes each?

America has a lot of retired F-16s to fill this role. It is interesting.

Let's hope the links can't be hacked. That would be interesting in a bad way.