SpaceX CEO Elon Musk suggested that Lockheed Martin’s F-35 Lightning II, the costly stealth jet considered to be the pinnacle of US military aviation, „would have no chance“ if pitted against a drone that is remotely piloted by a human.
Addressing the gathering at Air Warfare Symposium organised by the US Air Force in Florida on Friday, Musk said the age of fighter jets dominating the sky is over.
“For the air domain… things are definitely going to go into, kind of… locally autonomous drone warfare… is where the future will be… It’s not I want the future to be this, this is what the future will be, autonomous drone warfare…,” The Drive reported Musk as saying.
“Drones locally will be autonomous, but I think we still want to retain the authority to damage or destroy anything that isn’t an autonomous drone. Keep the authority back there with a person in the loom. The fighter jet era has passed. It’s drones,” Musk added.
Later, in a tweet, the SpaceX founder said: “The competitor should be a drone fighter plane that’s remote-controlled by a human, but with its maneuvers augmented by autonomy. The F-35 would have no chance against it”.
He stressed that F-35 stealth jet “would have no chance” against a drone remotely piloted by a human.
The US Air Force successfully tested an advanced, jet-powered drone called the XQ58-A Valkyrie recently that could accompany human-piloted fighter jets on missions.
The autonomous unmanned vehicle, can play a key role in electronic warfare, strike and surveillance on the battlefield.
According to New Atlas, the Valkyrie can carry a small payload of smart bombs, and has a range of just under 2,500 miles. The F-16 Fighting Falcon tops out at just over 2,600 miles while the F-22 Raptor has a range of over 1,800 miles.
Musk also discussed about making a Starfleet real at the symposium.
“How do we make Starfleet real?” he asked, stressing that reusable launch vehicles are “absolutely fundamental” to achieving whatever space ambitions the military might have, including staying ahead of China.”I think we can go a long way to make Starfleet real and these utopian futures real”.
“The foundation of war is economics. If you have half the resources of the counter-party then you better be real innovative otherwise we’re going to lose… The US will be, militarily, second,” Musk said.