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“ The operator can intervene if something goes wrong. ”

Lets hope so!

Skynet?! Operator controls 2 unmanned combat jets

Wed 4 Aug 2004 | 19h29 GMT+1

Two unmanned jets being developed as a robotic combat system made a coordinated flight under the control of a single pilot-operator, Boeing researchers said Tuesday.

Sunday's joint flight marked the first time such a feat was accomplished, according to Boeing Integrated Defense Systems of St. Louis.

The X-45A jets took off four minutes apart from NASA's Dryden Flight Research Center at Edwards Air Force Base, joined up above the test range and flew formations that involved autonomous maneuvering to hold their positions relative to each other.

Both jets then landed on a common runway and taxied to a location where they shut down.

The workload of the pilot-operator was significantly reduced by the ability of the two jets to fly the same mission plan on their own, Boeing said.

The role of the pilot-operator is more akin to being a mission manager than a pilot, said William Barksdale, spokesman for Boeing Air Force Systems, describing the system as "fly-by-mouse."

Using a computer screen, the pilot-operator commands the aircraft to begin the mission and then monitors the progress. The operator can intervene if something goes wrong, Barksdale said.

The first X-45A flight occurred in May 2002 at Edwards. Last April, an X-45A hit a ground target with an inert 250-pound bomb.

Edwards Air Force Base, Calif.
By Associated Press
August 3, 2004, 11:15 PM EDT

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