TOKYO >> The Defense Ministry plans to introduce autonomous drones equipped with artificial intelligence to operate with the next-generation fighter jet that will replace the Air Self-Defense Force’s current F-2 fighter jet.
The ministry has included research and development expenses in its budget request for next fiscal year, with the goal of deploying the drones in about 2035, when the new fighter jet is slated to be introduced.
The drones will be flown independently of the jets, detecting enemy aircraft and missiles using onboard sensors. They will fly in dangerous airspace and allow for quicker sightings of enemy stealth fighters that are hard to detect on radar.
And since they are smaller than manned aircraft, they would offer reduced production costs.
The drones will be controlled by the fighter crews, but AI will enable them to fly stably and autonomously in remote areas to detect threats while assessing weather, terrain and other factors.
At this point the ministry is aiming to use the drones for patrol missions, but it will be considering the development of drones capable of intercepting missiles.