This is different from another thread I started about F35s controlling drones, since these are NOT mere drones, but self-piloting QF16s:
The Pentagon Wants Autonomous Fighter Jets to Join the F-35 in Combat
March 30, 2016, 6:22 PM EDT
The pilotless aircraft could take to the skies before driverless vehicles hit the road.
The U.S. Air Force Research Lab is moving ahead with an initiative to turn aging F-16 fighter jets into unmanned, autonomous combat aircraft. The pilotless planes will fly alongside the newer aircraft like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Speaking at a forum in Washington, Wednesday, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert Work said he expects to see the autonomous aircraft plying the skies alongside manned jets before driverless vehicles enter service on the ground. Work spoke specifically about U.S. Air Force efforts to create autonomous wingmen for its fighter pilots that gave new life to older planes imbued with autonomous piloting technologies and teamed with next-generation aircraft.
But remotely controlled aircraft and autonomous piloting are two vastly different things. The Air Force isn’t just looking for an unmanned aircraft that can be piloted from afar, but a robotic aircraft that can pilot itself, taking cues from a human pilot in another aircraft. “The onboard autonomy must be sufficient for the Loyal Wingman to complete all basic flight operations untethered from a ground station and without full-time direction from the manned lead,” the Air Force Research Lab (AFRL) explained in a request for industry input published earlier this month.