Science: Twilight of the Fighter Pilot

That frail, slow-moving mechanism, the human fighter pilot, is becoming obsolete. At the flashing speeds of the latest fighter planes, his senses cannot absorb and his brain cannot process the information that is necessary to shoot down an enemy. It is U.S. Air Force doctrine (and presumably Russian doctrine too) that, sooner or later, human pilots must be supplanted by electronic senses and brains that can do a faster, better job.

A step toward this goal is the "semiautomatic interceptor" such as the Lockheed Starfire (F-94C) and the North American F-86D, which airmen...

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