US Air Force Wants More Loyal Wingman Drones, Here's the Reason!

US Air Force Wants More Loyal Wingman Drones, Here's the Reason!
US Air Force Wants More Loyal Wingman Drones

International Military - Facing a new great power like China, the US Air Force (USAF) says that fighter pilots alone are not enough. The USAF needs more loyal wingman drones to bolster its massive air power.

As many experts have discussed, the strength of a modern air force will in turn rely on a collaborative air combat fleet, manned and unmanned combat aircraft. Even if fighter pilots are still needed, they still have to be supported by an additional combat force involving armed drones (UCAV).

Loyal Wingman, the term that was first applied to the MQ-28 Ghost Bat for the Australian Air Force (RAAF), is now being developed by various developed countries, both individually and in collaboration. This unmanned aircraft was made to complement the fifth generation fighter jets, especially the sixth generation fighter jets.

Deputy Chief of Staff of the USAF for Planning and Programs Lieutenant General Richard Moore said it was necessary for the USAF to build and operate at least 1,000 loyal wingman drones to complement its fleet of manned fighter jets. Moore added, with the retirement of its F-15C Eagle, A-10 Warthog, and several older F-22s and F-16s, the USAF had to increase its strength by acquiring more loyal wingmen.

The Next-Generation Air Dominance (NGAD) combat platform, which will be operational from the end of this decade, will need the support of loyal wingmen at some point. The USAF was faced with major defense budget cuts. More efficient and effective is one way to overcome it.

"We have to find a way to create affordable mass, and that's where drones come in," Moore said as quoted by Defense News.

In addition to loyal wingmen, modern air forces also need loitering munitions or kamikaze drones for one-way ticket attacks that are cheap but have fatal effects on opponents. Ammunition wandering in the air is quite difficult to counter considering its ability to fly low.

Kamikaze drones have grown into an effective air force as seen in the current Russo-Ukrainian war and several previous wars.

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