Future “Top Guns” Will Be Battle Managers Flying Bigger, Slower Aircraft

At the dawn of aerial combat 100 years ago, World War I flying aces frequently closed to within 15 meters before firing at enemy aircraft with their machine guns. Such intimate encounters helped create a perception of pilots as skilled “knights of the air” who climbed into the cockpits of nimble aircraft to duel their opponents. But a recent report hints at a very different near future, where military pilots fly large, bomber-size aircraft loaded with missiles and command networked swarms of robotic drones.