Manned aircraft such as the F-16 Fighting Falcon are fast and agile which make them the perfect candidate for aerial combat. Drones share this same athletic mobility and come in different variations from quadcopters to fixed-wing designs. With this potential, drones could one day fill the skies, taking down manned aircraft and fighting against each other.
Drone on drone combat
As stated in an interview conducted by Military.com with Col. Julian Cheater, commander of the 432nd Wing, in a test that took place in a controlled environment, a United States controlled MQ-9 reaper was able to hit a smaller target. Here is what Col. Cheater had to say:
“Something that’s unclassified but not well known, we recently in November … launched an air-to-air missile against a maneuvering target that scored a direct hit. It was an MQ-9 versus a drone with a heat-seeking air-to-air missile, and it was direct hit … during a test.”
Although only taken place as a test, the MQ-9 reaper was said to have performed well with no complications. This event likely marks the first time a combat drone has targeted and effectively taken down another unmanned vehicle in the sky.
With military spending raising a considerable amount on drone technology in all fronts (land, air, and sea) there is no doubt that high-speed aerial platforms like the F-16 will soon see an unmanned variant. Most current drone technology is not suited for high speed, long distance travel, with the MQ-9 being the closest option available. We are used to seeing small quadcopters like the Mavic or Phantom from DJI which are not far off from what the Military is using, although they make their own tech in-house.
The future of drones is bright and the Military may be the leading the pack with its high spending. It will be interesting to see what they bring to the table within the next few years of development.
What do you think about unmanned aerial vehicles in the military? Let us know in the comments below.
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Photo credit: Air Online