Drones have become the signature combat system in America’s fight against terrorism. On a typical day, the Air Force’s fleet of Predators and Reapers fly a thousand hours over places like Iraq and Afghanistan. Unfortunately, they can’t fly when the weather is bad, and they crash on a regular basis. What’s worse, they have no hope of surviving in the future against enemies with air forces or air defenses. So Lockheed Martin’s fabled Skunk Works is developing technology for next-generation drones that are more reliable, survivable and cost-effective. Not only will they require less manpower and bandwidth, but they will be able to operate in tandem with manned fighters such as the F-35, something that never happens today. The drones will even be able to learn from each other through the clever application of sophisticated algorithms and artificial intelligence. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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