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The use of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) for combat roles has grown steadily since the introduction of the MQ-1 Predator in the mid-1990s, to the point where unmanned platforms are now often the weapon of choice in low-threat environments, such as Afghanistan.
However, mainstream combat aircraft procurement for high-intensity warfare continues to focus on manned aircraft, such as Typhoon and F-35. These aircraft place a high premium on capabilities such as agility and supersonic dash. As with all engineering trade-offs, however, there is a price to be paid for these capabilities, and it is primarily payload-range.
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