This is a photo of the Global Hawk UAV that returned from the war zone recently under its own power from Iraq to California.
Notice the mission paintings on the fuselage… It’s actually over 250 missions (And I would suppose 25 air medals). That’s a long way for a remotely-piloted aircraft. Think of the technology (and the required quality of the data link to fly it remotely). Not only that but the pilot controlled it from a nice warm control panel at Edwards AFB.
The Global Hawk can stay up for almost 2 days at altitudes above 60,000 feet. The Global Hawk was controlled via satellite; Basically, they come into the fight at a high mach number, fire their AMRAAMS, and no one ever sees them or paints with radar. There is practically no radio chatter because all the guys in the flight are tied together electronically, and can see who is targeting who, and they have AWACS direct input and 360 situational awareness from that and other sensors.
The aggressors had a morale problem before it was all over… It is to air superiority what the jet engine was to aviation in the 1940s.
It can taxi, take off, fly a mission, return, land and taxi on its own. No blackouts, no fatigue, no relief tubes, no ejection seats, and best of all, no dead pilots and no POWs.
Hat tip to Joe K.