Will drones soon replace fighter planes?

This week, the charismatic chairman of Tesla and SpaceX, Elon Musk, stunned an audience of Air Force Association fighter pilots when he declared that the replacement of traditional pilots and fighter planes by drones was inevitable in a relatively short time. According to him, the mass of information to be processed by a pilot in increasingly short periods of time, associated with the physiological constraints of the human body, make the concept of a piloted combat aircraft obsolete, and points towards a single and unique solution, their disappearance in favor of unpiloted systems, combat drones.

And the presentation of “Defender” concept made on February 27 by the western leader in combat drones, General Atomics, which designed and manufactured the Predator and Reaper drones in particular, seems indeed to point towards such a solution. Derivative of the “Avenger” drone, unhappy competitor of Boeing model selected for MQ-25 Stingray on-board refueling drone contract of the US Navy, the Defender is presented as a combat drone specialized in air interdiction missions and protection of support aircraft, such as in-flight refueling or early air warning devices, better known under the name AWACS. DARPA, for its part, is developing the Longshoot program, a device also equipped with air-to-air missiles and even a cannon, however with different objectives from the Defender concept, since it is more of an air-transported offensive weapon intended to operate in heavily defended environments in order to , precisely, eliminate these defenses to allow piloted aircraft to carry out their missions.

ELon MUSK USAF Defense Analysis | Fighter jets | Military aircraft construction
The positions expressed by Elon Musk during his speech at the Air Force Association are interesting, but largely questionable

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