The era of low-cost, highly-capable autonomous precision weapons, made possible primarily by the electronics revolution, has not gone unnoticed in smaller countries unable to support a large industrial military economy. "Advanced technologies can make third-class powers into first-class threats," said Vice President Dick Cheney. The whole nature of offensive tactics, defense, and force protection must change. Senator John Warner of Virginia challenged Congress to order the services to significantly increase their plans for developing and buying unmanned systems. Under his plan, by 2010 one-third of military aircraft designed for deep strike would be unmanned, and by 2015 one-third of ground combat vehicles would be unmanned. The Senate Armed Services Committee responded by earmarking $200 million in the 2001 budget for research in unmanned ground and air systems. Admiral James R. Hogg (USN, Ret.), Director of the Chief of Naval Operations Strategic Studies Group, stated that within 50 years, "75% of all ships sensors and weapons will be remote." Going further, the Strategic Studies Group predicts by the years 2030 to 2050, a 20-ship battle group will be augmented by approximately 800 unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) and 200 unmanned surface vehicles (USVs). During an off-site retreat in May 2000, Carderock Division's Leadership Council made the decision to form an internal study group to.

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A prototype of a robot jet fighter designed to take off and land on an aircraft carrier has made its maiden flight in the US.

The Pegasus, also known as the X-47A, flew for 12 minutes before successfully landing on a runway at the Naval Air Warfare Centre in California's Owens Valley.

The arrowhead-shaped plane completed the flight autonomously, following a series of pre-programmed way points.

The plane flew to about 3,300 feet and reached a speed of about 150 mph, said a spokesman for the Northrop Grumman Corporation, who made the prototype.

The plane is 27.9 feet long and has a wingspan of 27.8 feet.

It's a prototype of a future pilotless jet Northrop hopes to build with the assistance of the U.S. Navy and Defence Advanced Research Projects Agency