ROBOT wingmen and swarms of drones are the RAF’s fighters of the future.
They will fly alongside air force top guns — with pilots set to be fully phased out by 2040.
Supersonic drones armed with artificial intelligence will flank F-35, Typhoon and Tempest aircraft to defend them from enemy fire.
Codenamed Alvina, they are designed to overwhelm air defences.
Drones are already being tested at a secret site in Yorkshire and could enter service within the decade.
Larger robot wingmen, part of Project Mosquito, will provide “lightweight affordable novel combat aircraft,” known as Lanca, for the RAF.
The Lancas, still in the concept stage, will be programmed to jam enemy radar and intercept threats.
A source said: “If the robots are unmanned and cheaper than the mother ship it is much easier to put them in harm’s way to keep the pilot safe.”
Lancas may operate as an “uncrewed combat air fleet”, a report said.
It went on: “We will target aggressively the growing market for new and novel combat aircraft air systems in the 2040s.
“Many air forces will retire fighter fleets and . . . the market for robot wingmen will grow.”
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