Elon Musk says military drones will outlive fighter jets

'The fighter jet era has passed'

SpaceX founder Elon Musk expects unmanned drones will outlive fighter jets in the U.S. Air Force.

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"It's not [that] I want the future to be this," the billionaire entrepreneur added during a fireside chat about the future of air defense with Gen. Jay Raymond, chief of space operations for the Space Force, at the 2020 Air Warfare Symposium on Friday. "The fighter jet era has passed."

The founder of electric-car maker Tesla re-emphasized the point on Twitter when a platform user brought up his statement that the new Lockheed Martin F-35 Joint Strike Fighter should have a competitor. The fighter jet is the most expensive weapons program in U.S. history.

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"The competitor should be a drone fighter plane that’s remote-controlled by a human but with its maneuvers augmented by autonomy," Musk tweeted. "The F-35 would have no chance against it."

Aerial drone / iStock

Achieving technological advances in drone fighting, he said, will require leaders not afraid to fail before they succeed.

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"In the beginning, nobody wanted a Tesla. I can tell you that," he said when asked if he has ever had to "push" his product, adding that nobody knew what electric cars were and why they were better than gasoline-powered vehicles.

"When it's a radically new product, people don't know that they want it because it's just not in their scope," Musk said. "When they first started making TVs, they did a nationwide survey in '46 or '48, 'Will you ever buy a TV,' and ... almost everyone said they wouldn't."

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