@ the guy too understandable to be amanfrommars
you must be faking the name. that whole response was too understandable. And incorrect. The X-47 UCAV (which got the majority of it's brains from Berkeley-you know, those guys who make a big patchouli-and-pot stink about warfare, but get a vast amount of their funding from the very sources they're too stoned to understand) is designed to take off, fly a mission (recon or engage targets of opportunity-the only human intervention is a go-nogo decision on firing, and that's because of policy not technology) and land at it's assigned airfield. A recon mission would be completely hands off. The tech demonstrator already did full take-off, fly route and land completely autonomously.
They envision keeping these things in crates, with connections on the outside for a fuel input, battery charger and data link. You plug in jet fuel, keep the batteries trickle charged, then plug in a laptop and download the mission. Set the crate out on the tarmac, open it up, activate the drone, and stand back. When it comes home, let it cool down then fold it back into the crate. Repeat as necessary.
Humans have only been "in the loop" for the last decade because of policy. Long range persistent missiles like the Harpoon, the Silkworm, and the Exocet have 50 or longer mileage ranges where once released, they go towards their assigned target and in some cases, if that target no longer exists, will find another one, all without human guidance. ALCM's and Tomahawks do everything but land (since they're kamikaze devices) but is there any real big difference from a Tomahawk-type device to go from "reach target and explode" to "reach target and drop conventional bomb and then follow second course home"?
Just like telecomms going from human switchboards to fully automated IP packet routed devices. Most human operators at government and big companies were still around in recent history not because the technology wasn't already doing the job, but for political (Union) and customer perception issues.
Same for military combat in the very near future.