Iran shot down a $100 million U.S. Global Hawk drone near the Strait of Hormuz last week, which should be a wake-up call for anyone who thinks we have entered the era of drone warfare. Our drones, even the most capable, aren’t ready to face well-equipped adversaries. First, the drones have little capacity to protect themselves. Second, more and more countries are acquiring modern air defenses capable of tracking and targeting unmanned aircraft. Third, manned aircraft typically offer greater speed, maneuverability, self-protection and versatility. Fourth, artificial intelligence can’t compensate for an airframe that is slow-moving and easily spotted by the enemy. Fifth, the right solution is to have other reconnaissance assets besides drones, including orbital systems and manned fighters equipped with advanced sensors. Drones have their place, but they are no panacea for coping with all the threats modern warfare presents. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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