The US Air Force plans to deploy a good number of low-cost, unmanned "single-use" combat aircraft. They will be sent on missions too dangerous for manned planes.
The US Department of Defense representatives have they said that one of the technologies in which they will invest most in 2020 will be that of "Low cost single use aircraft": low cost suicide bombers.
It is a strategic choice that comes downstream of some important expense rationalizations that will also affect other fighters. For example, a marked reduction in production costs of the expensive and controversial F-35A Joint Strike Fighter (you know?) and the B-21 bombers (each of which even cost 640 million dollars)
Low cost suicide bombers: dirty work at a fair price
Unmanned "single use" aerial vehicles will cost much less, however. The Air Force is currently funding the development of theXQ-58A Valkyrie, a versatile unmanned aircraft with a load capacity of 272 kg and a dignified range of 2800 km.
By removing all the life support system for the pilot (no humans needed) and the complex instruments (no one looks at them) the cost of these low cost aircraft (which have a flight range of about 12000 hours) drops to just 3 million dollars.
Not bad, if you think an F-35 costs 89 million dollars.
Here XQ-58A Valkyrie in a video:
An "expendable" and unmanned fighter can do a lot of things: for example, it can act as a "guide dog" to armed drones. Or he can act as a decoy to track down targets to take down, he can fight on his own, or he can throw off enemy radars, or even block their communications.
The Air Force trusts that the new "kamikaze" robotic and economics help the agency save tens of millions of dollars without losing sight of its needs.