September 1, 2012  

Robotic wingmen

To the air force warfare center for thinking differently — at last — about what unmanned aerial vehicles might bring to the fight. The pilot-centric culture of the air service, which for so long rejected the idea that robotic planes were of much use at all, is coming around to the notion that UAVs might be good for more than helping out troops on the ground.

Witness this year’s Red Flag exercise, in which MQ-1 Predators were used for the first time to scout out mobile missile launchers and other targets for incoming strike aircraft.

Next up: thinking about how UAVs in general, if not the propeller-powered Predator, might help out in contested battlespaces.