Now this isn’t something you hear everyday: “It was a little different to see an F-16 take off without anyone in it, but it was a great flight all the way around,” Lt. Col. Inman said.
In what may have finally made recycling undeniably cool, the Air Force has developed technology allowing it to transform otherwise outdated fighter planes, in this instance old-model F-16s, into pilotless drones. Now admittedly, Predators and Reapers have already more than earned their place in the Righteous Killing Machine Hall of Fame, but consider the possibilities here with what can only be described as a massive leap forward in remotely controlled aircraft technology. Unlike their smaller counterparts, once fully developed, a new generation of full-size pilotless fighters and bombers will be able to travel extraordinary distances, fly at speeds exceeding mach 2, and carry out both air-to-air and air-to-ground missions in even the world’s most dangerous combat arenas without endangering their airmen who – much like today’s drone pilots – – will be able to engage their foes using newly designed remote operating stations.
Aside from just being awesome, the US gains at least three entirely new military capabilities here: (1) Delivering ordinance to highly sensitive targets without first having to engage in a long (often costly and complex) campaign of destroying surface to air missiles, radar stations and setting up electronic jamming permitters – tactics that have dramatically reduced pilot causalities but can also give an enemy time to relocate forces and/or better shield sensitive material (think chemical weapons and nukes…); (2) It will soon be possible for unmanned fighters to engage in dogfights and escort bombers at vastly lower risk and often within previously impenetrable airspace; and (3) because these planes were set to be decommissioned anyway, it seems the Air Force has discovered a new weapon perfectly suited for today’s era of severe budget austerity.
So far no video but keep checking back as we’ll absolutely be on the look out.