A super-fast silver streak cuts across the clear blue skies and everyone stares at the almost unbelievable sight. It’s almost like a flying saucer from a classic sci-fi film and you can see everyone aiming their smartphones to catch a frame of this unusual sight. No, no aliens are invading the blue planet and we don’t have to worry about being conquered by an unknown species. It’s just the U.S Navy testing its bat-winged X-47B. This state-of-the-art £1B aircraft can travel at subsonic speeds and no matter how hard you peek, you will not spot a pilot in its cockpit. It’s a test aircraft that has been developed to help America build its next generation of UAV’s or Unmanned Arial Vehicles. It is nuclear-powered and flies autonomously with the use of flight-control software and GPS navigation technology.
Is it the end of conventional air-combat?
These unmanned planes are being tested to be used in military missions and can be used for the purpose of spying or bombing. It has an on-board computer that can be programmed for a specific mission and these “orders” will be followed to the T until the point of time a flesh-and-blood pilot who is on the ground steps in to alter the instructions. It’s amazing the things technology can do and achieve. They can also be referred to as drones and can be launched from warships. This also means that governments will not need permission from various countries for using their bases. The application possibilities of these unmanned planes are truly astounding. These aircraft might just mark the end of piloted air-combat missions “Top-Gun” style.
The evident benefits and the warnings
These aircraft have the capacity to provide 24/7 surveillance, carry out any kind of lethal attacks and gather intelligence. Some of these drones are already being used by the U.S government against terrorists in Pakistan, Yemen and Afghanistan. Adding Artificial Intelligence to aircrafts comes with certain risks and the programming has to be explicit when it comes to instructions regarding opening fire and many are also calling these unmanned planes- the “Killer Robots”. The future seems to have crept upon us much sooner than we imagined, isn’t it?