Integrated radar, sensors, flight automation and easy flight control software needed for drones to operate against actual air defenses

In June, the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board completed a study (the first of three) that suggested the Air Force could modify the Reaper to be at least somewhat useful against a well-defended enemy The military has long thought drones to be “useless” against against decent air defenses with radar, interceptor missiles, or aircraft. Currently they only operate where the US air force has destroyed all air defenses.

A tougher and more versatile Reaper will

* be given a radar warning receiver and other improvements for situational awareness.
* upgraded ground cockpits, or control stations, to allow operators to steer drones, select targets, and fire at them,

* Drones in heavily contested environments will also need precision navigation and timing systems so they can continue their missions even when a sophisticated enemy knocks out their ability to use GPS. And the Air Force will have to use advanced modeling and simulation to develop more detailed technology program plans for contested environments
* a much wider variety of weapons can be applied based on the existing airframe size and power
* more autonomous operation

Currently flying a drone is like using Excel spreadsheet to perform maintenance while also trying to target a terrorist and hit him with a missile.

There is a detailed 33 page study that discusses how to make drones more Autonomous.

SOURCE Defense One , Wikipedia, US Air Force