One of the most shocking things about the Dubai Air Show was the drones. Drones everywhere. Drones in every single booth, drones on the runway, drones in my coffee. Everyone wanted a drone, for surveillance, spying on their neighbouring country, starting a war, helping soldiers or to take it out for drinks. The fact is that automated aircraft are the new buzzword in aviation: With lighter, stronger materials and advanced electronic components available at cheap prices, even aficionados can build these glorified model planes. At the show, not only Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman or BAE had these machines available. Small companies offered them as well.
Granted, all of these drones aren't equally smart, but whereas they are fully automated, semi-automated or remote controlled, these aircraft are taking a centre role in the battlefield. Infantry soldiers carry and use them as reconnaissance tools, while the bigger, more lethal models like the Predator or the Reaper can actually give air support to ground troops. And in peace time, they provide with an advance, low-cost surveillance method for police forces.
Scary idea? It is. I want one.