The Air Force has been aggressive in promoting its growing use of unmanned aircraft for surveillance, targeting and air-to-ground strikes.
Aboard Navy aircraft carriers, however, the future of unmanned aviation still is up in the air. Retired Adm. Robert Dunn, president of the Association of Naval Aviation, recalled that back in 1955, he was sitting on the deck of an aircraft carrier enjoying a cigarette with his fellow Cougar fighter pilots. “We got into a discussion and we decided then that these Cougars were probably going to be the last manned aircraft we’re ever going to have in the Navy … It’s going to be drones from here on out,” recollected Dunn. “Well, that was some 50 years ago … These things don’t happen overnight.”