Say you're at a party and somebody asks you what you do for a living. There is no answer you can give that will impress people more than "jet fighter pilot." Maybe astronaut. But basically if you show up at a cocktail party full of kickboxers, CIA agents, race car drivers and Richard Braonson, and tell them you're a jet fighter pilot, you'll be the center of attention. It's been the sexiest job in the world ever since somebody figured out how to make deadly aircraft that can go a thousand miles an hour while shitting fire.
Though we can also thank Tom Cruise.
Your grandchildren, however, will look at Top Gun the way we look at movies about the Old West. Among military types there is a saying: "The last fighter pilot has already been born."
There is one huge limitation in our badass jet fighters, and that is the soft, squishy human it carries in the cockpit. Remove that weakness, and you can build a machine that can fly faster, turn harder and generally be the Terminator to current fighter jets' Edward Furlong.
We're not talking about remote control drones, either--though they're becoming more and more popular for the same reason. We're talking about robotic fighters. The Ministry of Defense in the UK recently unveiled the most advanced one of these, called a UCAV or the Uncrewed Combat Aerial Vehicle.
Right now, the plane is limited. It is able to run only missions that are preprogrammed into its system. And while it can spot targets, it can take them out only if it requests permission and permission is granted from a human (that all might sound pretty comforting if it weren't for the fact that drone aircraft can and have gone AWOL). The point is, it turns out more than five people should have gone to see the movie Stealth because it was about the inevitable future: The US Air Force put out a report last year outlining how they could replace every damned aircraft they own with flying robots in the next 40 years.
It's definitely a good idea to remove "conscience" from the mix when dealing with giant missiles.