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EUROFIGHTER OUT -- DRONES IN?

The British military has decided to cut its fleet of Eurofighter jets by a third -- and replace them, perhaps, with drones.A decade late and tens of billions of dollars over budget, the Eurofighter would essentially be "outdated by the time it enters military service in 2006," the Telegraph reports. Designed to counter a Soviet threat, the initial batch of jets couldn't even attack the ground -- a key role for fighters in the Afghan and Iraqi conflicts.Small wonder, then, that the Royal Air Force will slash its Eurofighter order to 143 planes, from 232. What is surprising, however, is the Telegraph's assertion that "as well as easing the financial pressure on the Ministry of Defence's annual 31 billion budget, the cuts have also been prompted by the emergence of new, unmanned aircraft, which are seen as the future of aerial warfare.""All three (UK armed) service chiefs are said to have agreed to the cuts in the Eurofighter... after being assured that the savings will be used to develop future weapon systems," the paper notes. "These include unmanned aircraft and 'smart missiles,' which can be directed by computer on to targets hundreds of miles away with pinpoint accuracy."

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