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(87) Siniy

There was a recent story about British military pilots who went to China to teach the Chinese combat-jet tactics. There are a few elements to this story worth a probe. Firstly, it shows a decline in British patriotism and honour—not that anyone really takes that word seriously today. The pilots received a cool £250,000 for their services—and, of course, even military pilots are not so well paid; given that what they did helped a potential enemy of the West, if not Britain (if we assume US pilots use similar skills and are reasonably likely to fight the Chinese), then what they did was sold their honour. Secondly, the incident highlights a point I made earlier—a common point—that the Chinese cannot innovate; they have to hire someone to teach them these things—and this is why the world will never belong to China. They can steal, cheat, or copy—they cannot invent.

However, the most important point about this incident is that it doesn’t matter. As someone observed on Twitter the other day, the Ukraine War is WWI for drones—in WWI you had the first combat aircraft and during the war all the principles of aviation combat were worked out, right from primitive machines at the beginning to early bombers at the end. With these principles fleshed out, everything was put into full operation in WWII.

Musk is right, the Ukraine War is the first drone war—only pedants claim other wars were the first drone wars. Other conflicts that involved drones were like the use of observation balloons in the US Civil War—novelties. In this war, we see two industrialised powers deploying the full drone suite, from big commercial drones to toy quadcopters rigged with handgrenades. What does this have to do with the British pilots? Fact is that they and their tactics won’t be needed in the next war—Chinese copycats are playing catch up to yesterday’s games, the next war will be a drone blitz.


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