Changing the Battlefield by Remote Control, are Pilots a Thing of the Past?
Contributor(s)MARINE CORPS COMMAND AND STAFF COLL QUANTICO VA
KeywordsAttack and Fighter Aircraft
Military Operations, Strategy and Tactics
HUMAN FACTORS ENGINEERING
*UAV(UNMANNED AERIAL VEHICLES)
Full recordShow full item record
AbstractWhen it was invented, the aircraft threatened the very existence of long-established military organizations. It was a technology that completely changed the way in which war was waged and the way in which forces organized to fight them. Now, a developing technology seems on the verge of causing another upheaval in the way we approach war. "The Joint Strike Fighter has been hailed as the last manned fighter." The debate about whether or not human pilots will eventually become a thing of the past has been going on for decades, but the effectiveness of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) in the current operational environment has heightened the discussion. In combat actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, UAVs are a force multiplier: they save lives. UAVs are being employed on every level of the battlespace -- strategic, operational, and tactical. But does that mean that they are better than human piloted aircraft? The utility and efficiency of these systems has highlighted the debate over whether they will eventually replace human pilots and the aircraft humans fly. UAVs offer numerous advantages in terms of design, cost, safety, and performance. But they still cannot think or provide the intangible advantages that a human pilot can, such as intuition, morality, decision making ability, and judgment. A look at the capabilities and future capabilities of UAVs and the advantages and disadvantages of the UAV versus the human pilot will offer some insight as to the future of combat aircraft.