Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 21:02 | SYDNEY
Wednesday 06 Oct 2021 | 21:02 | SYDNEY

The drones are coming


Sam Roggeveen


12 September 2012 16:18

The ABC's Mark Corcoran has an enduring interest in the subject of drones, as evidenced by the recent piece he produced for Foreign Correspondent and two investigative pieces for ABC Online. This morning Mark sent me a link to a clip from a new short film called Unmanned. A feature-length version is under development:

The synopsis for the film (a drone pilot 'struggles to balance his daily combat life with his nightly role as husband and father') suggests it covers similar territory to the new novel by Andrew Croome, Midnight Empire, which also explores the juxtaposition between life in Las Vegas, a city at the heart of the US drone program, and faraway Afghanistan.

Andrew Croome, Mark Corcoran and I will be on a panel next week at the Lowy Institute to discuss these topics (click here if you'd like to attend), and one of the things I'm hoping to get across is that none of this is quite as novel as we might think.

The crews that manned intercontinental ballistic missile silos in the US and Soviet Union during the Cold War all went home after their shifts, as did long-range bomber air crews. And removing the pilot and aircraft as much as possible from danger while still performing the mission has been the aim of every air power user since the dawn of military aviation. Pilots and planes are valuable, so moving the pilot to a fixed base out of harm's way is really just a logical progression from flying at high altitude or using long-range missiles.