There are a countless number of drones out there, being controlled remotely, and having no use for a pilot. So, the next logical step, at least for the Air Force, would be to translate that pilot-less effectiveness, and move it to something a bit bigger. In this sense, the United States Air Force has made it known that, when the next generation of fighter planes makes their debut, they want them to be able to be piloted remotely.
The Air Force is calling them the Next Generation Tactical Aircraft, or TACAIR, but the actual jets are a long ways off from actually hitting production, or flying the (not so) friendly skies. However, it looks Boeing is jumping ahead, and have already postulated what, perhaps, these next generation aircraft might look like. The company has also pieced together a proposal, to include what some of the features may look like in the new jets. That would include advanced situational awareness, as well as “net-centricity.”
Of course, there’s no reason to think that the Air Force will completely remove pilots. There will always be a place for a pilot to sit within an aircraft, especially fighter planes. Despite Boeing including situational awareness as part of the “features” for these next generation aircraft, it’s a long-shot to think that a computer would be able to make the tough decisions that a human pilot has to make every day. Tough, but perhaps not impossible, and something for scientists to aim for in the future.