Big Winner Technology, F-35 and F-15EX Jets Could Control Drone10:06

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Big Winner Technology, F-35 and F-15EX Jets Could Control Drone

One fighter jet could control many unmanned jets, changing the face of aerial warfare forever. The U.S. Air Force is investigating how to control unmanned drone from its latest fighter jets, the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter and the F-15EX. The unmanned fighters would act as wingmen to manned fighters, scanning the skies for aerial threats. The program would also capitalize on the Air Force’s Skyborg artificial intelligence system and the new XQ-58A Valkyrie drone.

Under the concept, future versions of the F-35A Joint Strike Fighter and F-15EX Eagle would be equipped with the hardware and software to control multiple semi-autonomous drones. The drones would accompany manned fighters into combat, flying ahead of them with their radars switched on to detect enemy planes. Meanwhile, the manned mothership fighter would operate with its radar turned off, making it harder to detect. Once the drones detect an enemy target, the pilot can launch missiles.

The XQ-58 can fly at high subsonic speeds, carry a payload of 500 pounds, and fly up to 1,500 miles. It’s clear that for now the Air Force is thinking such a payload would be a radar or infrared sensor, but once the ethics of drones firing on humans is worked out—if ever—the payload could include air-to-air or air-to-ground weapons.

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