In the near future, the US Air Force plans to create a group of manned and unmanned attack tactical aircraft. This combination, in the opinion of the command, will help reduce possible losses among pilots during the war and ensure air superiority.
To implement this program, the Pentagon intends to purchase inexpensive unmanned aircraft that can be used in missions that pose a mortal danger to manned aircraft.
The US Air Force currently has an impressive fleet of reconnaissance and surveillance UAVs, as well as attack drones armed with anti-tank missiles and laser-guided GPS bombs.
The Pentagon understands that in possible conflicts with China or Russia, the United States will not be able to avoid large losses in aviation, where every modern aircraft is literally worth its weight in gold. For example, the F-35 costs almost $ 90 million, and each hour of its flight costs $ 44, 000. What can we say about the new bomber B-21, which "pulls" all 640 million dollars.
Drones partially solve the problem of the cost of the operation. The US Air Force is currently funding the development of the Valkyrie XQ-58A, a subsonic stealth drone with a 270 kg payload and a range of 2, 775 km. It is designed to operate for 12, 000 hours and will cost only $ 3 million. This means that the Air Force will be able to purchase 30 of these drones for the price of a single F-35.
Another use case for UAVs is participation in joint operations with manned combat aircraft, when, for example, the pilots of the F-35A, F-22 Raptor or B-21 Raider control the actions of several drones.