America will ensure the production of two combat drones that its Air Force plans to use alongside bombers and fighter planes, a military chief has said.
Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall claims that the pair will feature "in some form" in President Joe Biden's 2023 budget.
He told Defense News : “They’re both unmanned air combat vehicles, unmanned platforms that are designed to work in conjunction with fighter aircraft.”
Kendall was speaking ahead of his plans to officially confirm the existence of the drone programme when he submits his request for cash to the government.
Though he'll be asking Congress to consider the spending early next year, he said that any further details will be classified from the public.
He reckons the earliest that developments on the unmanned airborne weapons will begin, however, will be the following year.
The new additions could be a push to bolster the "loyal wingman" programme, which revolves around drones flying alongside pilots thanks to artificial intelligence.
Drones are capable of taking on missions that military top brass consider to be too dangerous for human pilots.
The push is also part of plans to scrap outdated flyers and modernise the US military's counter to China's updated combat forces.
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Kendall named the MQ-9 Reaper, C-130 and A-10 Warhog as aircraft that could already be outdated. The models were used during extensive conflicts in the Middle East, but there are fears that they will be less effective if Washington comes to blows with Beijing in the future.
He wants to focus on technology that threatens China's and added: "If it doesn't threaten China, why are we doing it?"
Air Force Chief of Staff General Charles Q Brown shares his concerns and former Senator Jim Talent says that current military funding doesn't go far enough to ward off China.
“It’s one thing to make hard choices,” Talent said. “It’s another thing to make what are effectively Sophie’s choices.”
It comes after China ploughed millions into its military budget as it looks to modernise its forces to an extent that would leave it rivalling those of western countries.
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