In the 1984 film ,The Last Starfighter, a gifted teenage video game player, who scores maximum points on a space battle game, is recruited by an alien talent scout to fly a star fighter and fight in a real intergalactic war.
It seemed unreal back then but it’s rumoured that companies use a similar idea as a recruitment test so that hackers who are clever enough to break into high security systems are often recruited to make the systems more secure.
And now the US Air Force recruits more drone aviators, known as the “Playstation force”, than fighter or bomber pilots and by next year will have 2,500 of them, enough to maintain 24 hour global air strike capacity using Predators, Reapers, and Global Hawks (there are currently 4,000 fighter and bomber pilots).
About 1,300 drone pilots operate out of a network of almost 20 sites across America, fighting a war 7,000 miles away.
General Norton Schwartz, the former Chief of Staff of the US Air Force, thinks that America will require the more traditional manned aircraft for another 30 years. He says at the moment remotely piloted aircraft are not suitable for “contested airspace” only for what he calls “benign airspace”, although I’m not sure people on the receiving end of a drone strike would see it as benign.
As these unmanned aerial vehicles cost less than a quarter of the price of a stealth fighter and there is no risk to the pilots (training a Top Gun pilot costs millions of dollars) you can see where this is heading – drone wars, un-manned aerial battles, the stuff of sci-fi in your lifetime!