BAE Systems has taken a step closer to removing pilots from fighter jets by launching the first major test flights for a new generation of intelligent drone aircraft.
The defence group is assessing software for unmanned aircraft that will operate with an unprecedented level of independence. Defence experts believe pilotless planes are the next progression from manned fighters such as the Typhoon jet, made by BAE.
The project, named Astraea, differs from the current drone models in use in Afghanistan, which are flown remotely by pilots on the ground. Instead the prototypes will follow a set of programmed instructions, with the aim that they could fly difficult missions autonomously for days at a time.