In an effort to reduce comms latency, fighter aircraft will be equipped with AI systems to work with drone wingmen. The latter rather than being controlled by remote pilots thousands of miles away, will work as one with the pilot of the F-35 and F-22’s. The drones will be carrying weapons and shall help in probing and testing enemy air defences, surveillance and reconnaissance.
Air Force Chief Scientist Gregory Zacharias declared that great progress has been made in AI, sufficient to allow much greater autonomy. Manned – unmanned teaming will be the result of work carried out at their research lab. Zacharias said, “This involves an attempt to have another platform fly alongside a human, perhaps serving as a weapons truck carrying a bunch of missiles.”
At present, Predator and Reaper drones are coordinated from ground control stations. In the future, it is predicted drones will be operated from the cockpit of AI equipped fighter aircraft, allowing F-35 pilots to control groups of drones around them (I’d ask for a pay rise). There would not be the requirement for the massive bandwidth of real time video feeds sent back to the ground station.
As you might imagine this method of warfare would massively increase not only the fire power of a single F-35 but also the defence capability. The pilot could send a drone in to what he or she perceives as a hazardous situation, maybe drawing fire and radar acquisition by the enemy thereby revealing their position and declaring their arsenal.
Additionally where the F-35 has to beat a swift retreat, the drones could loiter in a defensive role.