30% of All US Military Aircraft are Drones | Singularity Hub
“The Era of Robotic Warfare Has Arrived”
Why is the population of drones rising exponentially in the US military? (...) While representing more than 30% of the total aircraft flown, drones account for just 8% of the warplane budget. Nearly forty Predator and Reaper drones have crashed in Afghanistan and Iraq (with the loss of small UAVs like the Raven being considerably higher), yet the accident rate for Predators has dropped significantly in the past few years falling from 20 cases per 100,000 hours in 2005 to just 7.5/100k in 2009. That accident rate puts the Predator (and Reaper) on par with the F-16!
(...à the US is on track to spend $26 billion on drone R&D between 2001 and 2013. A small fraction of the total US military budget, but possibly the investment that may yield the highest dividends.
No new technology can be borne into battle, however, without carrying with it some new dangers as well. (...) There have already been a few well-reported cases of insurgents tapping into that data stream for use against US troops. Such risks are likely to increase as technology-use among opposition forces improves.