Is it Possible to Replace Alpha Jets with Drones?
Drones Vs Alphajets
Drones have become the must have aerial camera platform for photographers, businesses, delivery services, everyday people and even the military.
The simple controls, small size, and maneuverability of drones mean that they can easy get to difficult sites, and they can also provide images, information or supplies without the need to put men in a dangerous position.
In some cases, these unmanned aerial vehicles seem like the ideal alternative to manned planes and the way forward in aerial attacks, but some critics are questioning whether they are really the perfect approach and whether alpha jets could actually end up replacing them.
Drones are big business in the military, and progression means that they can only grow in size and importance.
The worth of drones has been plain to see in a number of military campaigns. They offer solutions to combat situation that was not previously available and, as such, a lot of money and effort is being spent on developing the technology.
In 2015, the Secretary of the US Navy stated that he believed drones would actually end up replacing naval fighter jets in military operation.
To many, this is the future and manned planes are being phased out. The US air force has around 65 combat air patrols in operation at any given time and this is sure to rise.
Much of this comes down to the development of technology like the latest pilotless plane. This is less of a drone as we have come to know them and more of an unmanned plane with AI tech.
It is designed to become the ideal surveillance and strike drone and reports suggest that it will be the size of an F-14 tomcat.
Some ask why this is necessary: if they are building the planes to same size and specs as current models, why not man them and be sure of a better performance?
Critics of military drones are concerns about the limitations of larger UAVs like this.
The reason for this call for manned jets comes down to concerns about the capabilities of these drones. There are questions over the speed, endurance, and stealth of these UAVs and fears that the intelligence of these machines is nothing compared to that of a pilot.
Fighter pilots work on a system known as the OODA loop: observation, orientation, decision, action. This requires a thought process, reflexes, and decision making that are not yet possible with a drone.
A drone cannot observe a threat, reorientate itself, make a rational decision and act upon it. What it can do is blindly carry out the program objective, oblivious to other dangers that might compromise the greater mission.
The additional problem here is that there is no way if adding new, intelligent software to this new unmanned plane that will make up for this shortfall and become capable of performing this OODA loop.
This tech does not yet exist and, according to scientists, is unlikely to exist until at least 2040. That's another 25 years of potentially relying on unmanned drones when manned alpha jets with trained pilots would do a better job.