The film's issues aside, the idea of a totally unmanned fighter jet joining America's current arsenal has seemed like a forgone conclusion. Now, it has inched just a bit closer to reality, as Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus said the new F-35 will likely be the last manned fighter to be operated by the Navy.
"Unmanned systems, particularly autonomous ones, have to be the new normal in ever-increasing areas," Mabus said during a speech at Navy League's 2015 Sea Air Space symposium, Military.com reports. "For example, as good as it is, and as much as we need it and look forward to having it in the fleet for many years, the F-35 should be, and almost certainly will be, the last manned strike fighter aircraft the Department of the Navy will ever buy or fly."
To support this idea, Mabus announced a new office for unmanned systems which will be headed up by a new Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Unmanned Systems. Meanwhile, the idea of an unmanned fighter has the support of at least one important member of Congress, Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces subcommittee, Rep. Randy Forbes.
"The future of the Carrier Air Wing is linked with the development of an unmanned system able to execute long-range, penetrating strike missions in anti-access environments. I am hopeful that whoever fills this new post will take a holistic, strategic look at the Navy's unmanned portfolio and be a strong advocate for that vision moving forward," Rep. Forbes told Military.com.
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