America's military could make history with a change to its air force: removing the need for pilots by requiring that the next generation of combat planes can be controlled remotely like a drone.
Of course, that doesn't mean we'll see the Air Force do away with pilots all together — not in the near future, anyway. It's a clear sign of how far robotic technology has come in such a short span of time, though. The U.S. military already uses robots en masse for diffusing bombs, aerial recon and even surgical bombing runs. It was enough to make one wonder how long it would be before the hardware that accompanies a soldier into the field — planes, tanks, helicopters and the like — were remotely piloted or entirely automated.
That said, the Next Generation Tactical Aircraft (or TACAIR) plans are still barest at best and the actual jets are a long way off yet. That hasn't stopped Boeing from putting together an image of what they could look like (peek up above), or the proposal to lay out what features they could include, such as "net-centricity" and situational awareness.