The Manned Fighter Jet Era Has (Almost) Passed

Are we on the cusp of a revolution in fighter aircraft?

Elon Musk recently stunned a large gathering of Air Force officers at an annual Air Force Association (AFA) symposium by telling them that “the fighter jet era has passed” and confidently predicting that “locally autonomous drone warfare is where the future will be.” Scores of current and retired fighter pilots in attendance were gobsmacked. It's one thing for a Musk or a Jeff Bezos to talk about autonomy to a room packed with shareholders looking to maximize productivity and profit. It's another thing entirely when the shareholders happen to also be the workers on the frontline and their jobs are at stake. Welcome to the harsh world of speaking truth to a military that does not want to hear it.

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