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Two secret combat drones planned by the US Air Force as top official warns new aircrafts need to ‘threaten China’

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THE US Air Force will develop a pair of combat drones next year that are designed to operate alongside fighter planes and bombers.

“I’ve got two that I’m going to have in the ’23 budget in some form,” said Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall.

The US Air Force will develop a pair of combat drones next year that are designed to operate alongside fighter planes and bombers

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The US Air Force will develop a pair of combat drones next year that are designed to operate alongside fighter planes and bombersCredit: Splash
The Air Force might be doubling down on the 'loyal wingman' program

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The Air Force might be doubling down on the ‘loyal wingman’ programCredit: AFP

“They’re both unmanned air combat vehicles, unmanned platforms that are designed to work in conjunction with fighter aircraft.”

The existence of the drone programs will be revealed formally in the budget request, said Kendall. The budget will go to Congress in early 2022.

“These will be acknowledged classified programs but I am going to try to get them started in ’23.”

It’s possible that the Air Force might be doubling down on the “loyal wingman” program, a drone that relies on artificial intelligence to fly alongside piloted aircraft.

The drone would be able to take on missions that are considered too dangerous for human fighter pilots.

The reason for the program is to hopefully retire outdated air frames and instead focus development on modern aircraft to counter China’s modernizing military.

Kendall says that China has focused its own modernization efforts on ways to defeat high-value American assets.

Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Charles Q. Brown shared Kendall’s sentiments.

Retired Sen. Jim Talent believes that the military’s funding hasn’t been sufficient enough to field the forces needed to stop potential adversaries. 

Because of this, the military is having to choose what threats it guards against because it hasn’t been able to build the necessary capacity, Talent said.

“It’s one thing to make hard choices,” Talent said. “It’s another thing to make what are effectively Sophie’s choices.”

China has been modernizing its military at a rapid rate the past few years

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China has been modernizing its military at a rapid rate the past few yearsCredit: AP
Retired Sen. Jim Talent believes that the military’s funding hasn’t been sufficient enough to field the forces needed to stop potential adversaries

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Retired Sen. Jim Talent believes that the military’s funding hasn’t been sufficient enough to field the forces needed to stop potential adversariesCredit: Alamy

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