The very first airplanes used in war were scouts and light bombers, which flew above armies and dropped small bombs (often thrown from a pilot's hand) onto enemies. By and large, that's where military drones are today: surveillance tools that sometimes fire missiles. A new initiative from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency wants to change that, and bring drones right up to the cutting-edge aerial warfare innovation of 1914: air-to-air combat.
On February 28th, DARPA is holding a conference in northern Virginia to start tackling the problems of future air-to-air battles. DARPA wants the military and industry to figure out "Distributed Battle Management," or how to organize a sky with both manned and unmanned aircraft fighting alongside one another.