Drones And New Technologies Are Reinventing The U.S. Air Force And Future Airpower | Aviation

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A U.S. Marine Corps XQ-58A Valkyrie, highly autonomous, low-cost tactical unmanned air vehicle, conducts its first test flight with a U.S. Air Force F-16 Fighting Falcon aircraft assigned to 96th Test Wing at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., Oct. 3, 2023. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. Tristan McIntire)

Lessons learned from current conflicts show that a deep, fundamental shift in airpower is occurring worldwide and the Air Force needs to adapt, says its chief.

During his State of the Air Force address at the AFA Warfare Symposium, the Chief of Staff of the U.S. Air Force Gen. David W. Allvin said the service will face historic changes as it needs to adapt to the deep, fundamental shift in airpower occurring worldwide. Current conflicts are in fact showing how drones, new technologies and low-cost weapons are reshaping the modern battlefield.

“The changing character of war is coming upon us,” said Gen. Allvin in his address on Feb. 13. “The theater of war is going to require us to fight different. This will be part of the reinvention of our Air Force and airpower into the future.”

The proliferation of these systems is especially visible in Ukraine, a highly contested airspace where air superiority has not yet been achieved after two years and which forced both sides to heavily rely on unmanned systems, artillery, trenches and electronic warfare. This consequently led to the continuous development of new drones and EW systems which keep appearing on the battlefield, often in response to new advancements of the other side.

Many of these unmanned systems have a very low production cost, contrary to the weapons required to counter them, and this allows enough mass production to even saturate defense systems. The cost disproportionality between these novel unmanned attack systems and the required defense systems is another important aspect that has to be considered in preparation for future fights.

“You’ll see this proliferate more and more, which…

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