An Air Force without human pilots

Monday - 9/20/2010, 5:38pm EDT

It's been over six decades since the establishment of the U.S. Air Force. In fact, the Air Force officially celebrated its 63rd birthday on Saturday.

Defense Tech raises an interesting question: Are we getting close to a time when the Air Force will no longer need human pilots?

From refueling missions to carrying out tactical and strategic missions, the service has been developing an unmanned air fleet capable of any and every kind of combat and support role.

But, as you might imagine, there are still serious doubts as to whether computers can really replace humans in today's complex battlefield. There are plenty of experts - including career fighter pilots - who say it could be a while before the Air Force has autonomous aircraft that are capable of performing complex tactical missions.

And, there will always be the moral questions that are like something out of a Terminator movie: Should we be enabling a machine to kill a human based on an automatic decision?

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