The U.S. Air Force Research Lab is moving ahead with an initiative to turn aging F-16 fighter jets into unmanned, autonomous combat aircraft. The pilotless planes will fly alongside the newer aircraft like the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.
Wow, this is beyond incredible. Here’s footage of an F-16 launching itself 15,000 into the air in less than 45 seconds. It’s basically a vertical straight shot and you get to see how high—the fighter jet looks like its suspended in air for a moment there—the airplane goes and how small the rest of the world looks in what is essentially the aircraft’s rear view. It gets so high that you half expect it to like, fall back to Earth.
How do pilots learn how to fly a fighter jet that cost a trillion dollars to develop (or a $100 million a pop to make)? By hopping in a total bad ass simulator that mimics everything about the F-35 in basically the sickest video game ever. The pilots in the simulator look like they’re flying some space age ship, with helmets that make them look like they have alien eyes.
Here’s a really cool video of F-18s taking off from the USS Theodore Roosevelt at night. It’s so cool to see these flying beasts just kick off in an instant with flames burning at their tails. And it’s even more impressive to see this happen at night. With all that said, my favorite part of this video might be the night landing, though.
You’re only a couple feet away from F-18 Hornets launching from an aircraft carrier. You hear the power of the fighter jets, feel the closeness of these flying killing machines and see the impossibility of their take off. The fighter jet starts moving and is in the air in such a short distance, it’s always unbelievable.