New submitter Zmobie writes: In a new program, the U.S. Air Force has converted and tested F-16 planes as drones that are able to fly with complex mission parameters. The program is designed to use retiring F-16 jets to act as autonomous “loyal wingman” for manned F-35 jets and fly their own strike missions. Business Insider reports: “The U.S. has used F-16 drones before as realistic targets for the F-35 to blow up in training, but on Monday it announced fully autonomous air-to-air and ground strike capabilities as a new capability thanks to joint research between the service and Lockheed Martin’s legendary Skunkworks. […] But having F-16 drones plan and fly their own missions is only part of a much larger picture. The future of the U.S. Air Force may well depend on advanced platforms like F-35s commanding fleets of unmanned drones which can act as additional ears, eyes, and shooters in the sky during battles.” Further reading: TechCrunch, Popular Mechanics, Engadget
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