Israel’s air force is on track to developing drones that within four to five decades would carry out nearly every battlefield operation executed today by piloted aircraft, a high-ranking Israeli officer told The Associated Press Sunday.
The officer, who works in the field of unmanned aerial vehicle intelligence, said Israel is speeding up research and development of such unmanned technologies for air, ground and naval forces.
“There is a process happening now of transferring tasks from manned to unmanned vehicles,” the officer said, speaking anonymously because of the classified nature of his work. “This trend will continue to become stronger.”
Isaac Ben-Israel, a former Israeli air force general, said however there was no way drones could entirely overtake manned airplanes. He said there are just some things drones can’t do, like carry heavy payloads needed for major assaults on targets like underground bunkers.
“The direction is drones playing a bigger and bigger role in the air force,” he said. “In a decade or two they should be able to carry out a third or half of all missions. But there are still certain things you cannot do without a piloted plane.”