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As a matter of fact there are a number of corners- some very close and others in the distance but the industry works to be prepared for the increased operational demands.
By analyzing the needs of the Israeli defense forces, and the proven capabilities of Israeli manufacturers like Israel aerospace industries (IAI), ELBIT systems and Aeronautics , one can get a partial idea of things to come.
It can be stated with a great degree of confidence , that many more tasks of manned aerial platforms will be taken over by unmanned ones.
The process is gradual , and its pace is determined by budgets and by the trust of the users in the new technology.
Right now the imminent step is a combination of airborne early warning (AEW) or Sigint manned platforms with a number of UAS . This is currently being studied by the manufactures.
IAI is offering a line of mission aircraft on different platforms. The G-550 was selected by the Israeli air force and the air force of Singapore for this mission.
The need for many sensors operating simultaneously in a wide area, brought IAI to evaluate a complete system that will consist of the sensors carried by the manned platform that will act as shepherd to a number of uas carrying different sensors. Such a combination will allow the manned system to get more data for the onboard “fusion” process.
It is understood that the planned combination will increase the “footprint” of the sensors also in “difficult” areas where the topography disrupts the sensors efficiency.
IAI confirmed that such an evaluation is being performed but was reluctant to be specific about the types of UAS and sensors that are used.
But this is an interim phase based more on psychological reasons than on operational ones.
As the uas get bigger and heavier, they would undoubtedly take the place of many manned platforms.