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Report: Mitchell Institute Suggests Air Force Recycle Retired Planes as UAV

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The Mitchell Institute for Aerospace Studies recommends the U.S. Air Force use aircraft currently in long-term storage for unmanned and extended kill chain operations, Federal News Radio reported Tuesday.

“We put out the idea of converting aircraft that are currently in storage simply because cost is everything right now and if you look at those airframes they are certified combat aircraft,” Executive Director Douglas Birkey told the publication.

Birkey noted that the conversion cost is comparable to the branch’s $1.3 million effort to modify F-16 aircraft as drone training systems.

The institute proposed developing autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles rather than remotely-piloted aircraft such as the MQ-9, the report detailed. The paper also suggested that additive and supplemental platforms can help address the mission requirements of the Air Force’s bomber and fighter fleets.