So many people forget this as they rush to make drones the answer. If you want something that can keep up with a F-35 in terms of range, stealth, and speed - it's going to be similar in size to a F-35. As cool as DJI's carrying grenades over Ukraine is, if you want serious performance you need serious kit. Which leads to the second point, something that can match the F-35 for speed/range/stealth is going to cost....close to an F-35. These things are not as cheap as many think. Which leads to the third point. Something that can match an F-35 for range/speed/stealth is going to have maintenance demands....similar to an F-35.
The removal of crew does make some design easier (I promise, the best thing about helicopters is ignoring on-board oxygen generation - oxygen sucks...), but some physics remain. You want a 'Loyal Wingman UUV' to work with Collins? It's going to be similar in size, cost and maintenance. A 'Loyal Wingman UAFV' to work with an M1? It'll be similar.
Also, all these drones still need maintenance and logistic support - from a system point of view there is no workforce savings, the workforce just shifts from frontline to support. That's really good from one point of view, less bodies exposed to fire, but it forces the Force to become more technical. Which is fine for the RAN and RAAF, but it'll hurt the ARA.
Drones are orders of magnitude more complex than 90% of commentators believe. Getting Loyal Wingman out into the public eye will hopefully start educating some of these peeps.
This is from the Defence department.
One has to wonder why both government ( Defence ) and private enterprise are putting so much energy into this project.
This is not a flight of fantasy, but a real project to explore this realm.
No doubt clever people asking broad and challenging questions to conceptualise an unmanned platform to operate with fast air.
Now from paper concept to a working physical system in an amazing short period of time is an impressive achievement.
Next will be testing of the system and then operating it with manned aircraft.
Test, modify, explore, test again and again. Adjust.
This project is getting energy and commitment.
Will it work or not is for the future.
However I'd suggest enough people within this space have confidence that there is a future in this realm to persevere and explore this space.
Will Ghost bat be expensive and a challenge to maintain. No doubt it will.
But the project exists for a reason.
I suggest it has a big future.
Then again so do manned aircraft