The US Army has no plans to ferry troops into war zones aboard unmanned helicopters, but will push autonomous and remote-controlled flight technology for cargo delivery, although it's not a near-term priority, service officials say.
Just as the US Air Force and Navy are grappling with the idea of sending unmanned fighter jets into battle, the army faces similar ingrained preconceptions about the role of pilots in combat.
“The questions about unmanned helicopters with crews in the back; there’s a level of trust there we won’t break,” the army’s capability manager for unmanned aircraft systems Col Paul Cravey tells Flightglobal in an interview. “We’re not putting soldiers in the back of helicopters without our aviators flying in the front.”
Unmanned helicopters are often touted as the ideal solution for breaking into hostile territory without risking the lives of aircrews, but these concepts do not extend to rescuing or transporting soldier, the army claims.