Will drones eventually replace military jets?
Several countries are interested in unmanned combatants. They store the entire expense and risk of putting extremely skilled pilots in harm’s way.
Furthermore, they are never bored, which is why they are so useful right now – lingering on the station for several hours at a time.
I have serious reservations that governments would move to unmanned warring parties, particularly for use as extremely high attrition strike craft where the aircraft will not survive. We already have those; they may be called cruise missiles. A fighter jet’s finance system is that it can be reused.
In the near future, we will witness demonstrations of unmanned “support drones” supporting human-flown planes.
Some layout concessions in aircraft might make this a possibility. Stealth, velocity, payload, range, and a variety of other factors. It may be quite useful if a tiny drone could, for example, bring a couple of additional missiles into battle for you. Alternatively, carry a customized sensor pod. Or bring more fuel. This would get us closer to having exceptionally high-performance human battle parties networked with smaller drones.
Human brains are costly computers that take 18-25 years to create, yet they may be excellent at managing surprises on their own. They’ll be here for a while in navy packets.