Con Coughlin of the London Telegraph thinks the golden age of Drone warfare is already behind us. Con Coughlin is mistaken. The RQ-170 was not shot down. It was, likely, a system failure. So, the stealth aspect was intact. Also, while the Revolutionary Gurards can say what they like, the Navy hasn't lost a ScanEagle.But when it comes to more sophisticated foes such as Iran, which has Russian-made anti-aircraft missile systems, the drone is vulnerable to attack. Last year the Iranians shot down a sophisticated U.S. stealth drone, the bat-winged RQ-170 Sentinel, and now the Revolutionary Guards say they have captured a ScanEagle version, which is launched from sea. Clearly the golden age of the drones, when they ruled supreme in the skies, is drawing to a close.
The next generation of drones is already beyond the pipeline. The new Boeing Phantom Ray has a cruising speed of well over 600 MPH at an altitude of over 65,000 feet. That puts everyone else's toys to shame, and the shape suggests stealth as well. Add a liquid hydrogen mixture fuel source, and you have a drone that can stay on station for days at a time without refueling.
As I said, Con Coughlin is mistaken. The golden age of Drones can't even be seen from this distance. But, it's coming.