Unmanned Automated Fighter Planes

Will Unmanned Automated Fighter Planes be Vulnerable?

August 02, 2016 | Avionics, Unmanned Automated Fighter Planes, Algorithm

Avionics engineering has evolved a long way. From presumably the first-ever German fighter plane  Messerschmitt Me 262, dubbed as Schwalbe, which performed roles like light bombing and recce to modern fifth-generation fighter planes, equipped with highly cohesive workstations, better air-frames and surreptitiousness—because of a low chance of being detected —,progressive improvements in avionics have made them more stealthy, precise, and lethal.  

Currently, the U.S. Airforce’s, Raptor F-22--build by Lockheed Martin--, is the only fifth-generation fighter plane under operation.  

Many manufacturers around the world are building the next-generation fighter jets though. Lockheed Martin is working to build a stealthier version known as F-35, while Japanese Ministry of Defense   Technical Research and Development Institute (TRDI) along with Mitsubishi is making ATD-X Shinshin and China’s Shenyang Aircraft Corporation is developing J-31 twin-engine fighter jet.

Russia’s Sukhoi in tandem with India’s Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) is developing the next-generation Perspective Multi Role Fighter (PMF). The fighter jet will become operational from 2022.  

But the quest for a superior avionics engineering has taken fighter-jet makers a step further. Indeed, the U.S. Airforce Research Lab is all-set to modernize its F-16 fleet by converting them into pilotless autonomous fighter jets. These soon-to-be introduced fighter-jets differ from remotely directed aerial drones though.

Just like automated vehicles, these unmanned fighter-jets are programmed with algorithms, allowing them take automated decisions on their own. Another riveting feature of unmanned aircrafts will be their ability to take signals from a human pilot in another fighter-jet. But will they carry vulnerabilities?

Automated unmanned fighter planes, infused with a pre-set program or algorithms, are vulnerable to hacking from enemy states or rogue elements. And since the technology will make them capable of self-reasoning, deducing, and making decisions, any error in judgment, might result in a crash.  

All said; unmanned automated aircrafts should enhance the capabilities of the U.S. Air force even as global fighter plane makers strive to develop stealthier jets with superior networking and combat capabilities. 

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