Aeroplanes are expensive, powerful, fancy targets. To protect their pilots and keep the investment in the planes safe, the United States Air Force has for decades pursued stealth technologies, designed at hiding planes from hostile sensors. Yet stealth, too, is expensive, and with the increased abilities of unmanned aircraft, in the future there doesn't have to be a pilot that needs protecting onboard every aircraft. With lots of cheap drones, for the first time in decades the Air Force could fill the skies with aircraft it isn't afraid to lose.
At the best of times, military patrol duty is equally boring and important. Physically being in a place reminds others that the military is there, armed and ready to take action. It's a good way to watch a lot of space for signs of hostile activity, but it also commits a lot of people to the work of patrolling, and puts them at risk. What if, in many situations, a robot could do the actual driving around and watching part of patrolling, and armed troops could travel quickly into the danger when it arose?
Traveling underwater offers Navy SEALs a lot of advantages. Troops are hard to see below the waves, and until they reach the shore they're no louder than the ocean itself. The problem is all the water. The current “swimmer delivery vehicles” used by the Navy's elite special forces require them to wear scuba gear the entire time, because they're exposed to the sea itself. A new submarine, from Submergence Group LLC and defense giant Lockheed Martin, will instead carry SEALS covertly, underwater, and inside an enclosed submarine.
In the wake of post-protest shootings that left five police officers dead and seven others wounded, along with two civilians, police traded gunfire last night with a suspect inside a downtown Dallas parking garage. Eventually, law enforcement sent a "bomb robot" (most likely shorthand for a remotely controlled bomb disposal robot) armed with an explosive, to the suspect's location, then detonated the explosive, killing the suspect.
Only a few nations have ever built stealth fighters. The United States dominates in that arena, with the retired F-117, the in-service F-22, and the soon-to-be-in-service F-35, but it's not alone. Russia and China are both developing stealthy fighters of their own, and several nations, including Israel and the United Kingdom, joined with the United States to develop and field the F-35. Japan is slowly joining the exclusive stealth club, and it might turn to an indigenously designed plane to do it.
“All warfare is based on deception,” wrote Sun Tzu, the ancient Chinese strategist, in “The Art of War.” As far as we know, Sun Tzu never grappled with the specific problems of electronic image processing by machines, but the principle still holds in modern times. If war is based on deception, future wars are going to involve tricks to fool robots.
Today's battlefields change in the blink of an eye. Generally, that's because of new attackers emerging from somewhere unseen, or an undetected bomb going off, but what if the sudden change instead came from a burst dam or flash flood? To answer these questions, and prepare for future wars, the Pentagon is playing in a literal sandbox.