It goes beyond that IMO.
In many 'developing' nations, a strong military is the key to dominating a local market, even if the threat is not emphatic.
All empowered military's quickly tend to take a bigger chunk of political power than perhaps their leash holders would like. It's true as well here in the U.S. as Outer Orange Land, it's just that we have more checks against /open/ (public) control of feudalistic nature as does say China's 'regional' interior commanders.
The basest reason for this is logistical. You may not know squat about /why/ but if you know -how- to move, supply and mass forces in the field, you have _power_.
While I'm largely against using armchair warriors for an 'RPV' fighter (too slow, even without transmission lags) either these or the train-and-store UCAV give two more means by which an idiot can cause an accident.
1. The Poli's use internal police to 'control' the military and make their warring a function tech boys and lab coats.
2. The Military uses it's new-toy-joy to rah-rah the politicians into thinking that they can actually 'win one', Gipper be hanged.
The latter is more dangerous because it is more competent but ultimately also because it puts us in a situation where we have to deploy ground troops to remove ground troops without a certainty of Air Superiority. And if you can dogfight, you can fly straight and level to release a PGM (laser, INS) or cluster unit on somebodies GPS callout. Encryption or 'shut off' is meaningless today.
Furthermore, a small F-jet (Gripen) weighs, in the range of 12Klbs. Among that 'operational-empty' list is about 2-5Klbs worth of 'canopy forward' design penalty and one /helluva/ huge signature one as well.
OTOH, if you strip out the 200-300lb E-seat, the 1,000lb LOX, shorten the nose by about 15 feet (no radar, use IRST and NO cockpit) you've got a machine down in the 5-8Klb, empty, 'range'.
This in turn means that all of a sudden, either 'commercial' engines like the F-124/125 or home grown, low-stress types (a derivative of the 'Wopjen' or whatever it's called in the Chinese F-7/MiG-21 derivative) can supply -at least- a 1:1 T/Wr.
It also means that with massive aerodynamic cleanup and comparitively low-thrust 'cruise missile modes'; you can get _radii_ on the order of a Turbofan Zero.
Add this to a built-in MAWS (Missile Approach Warning System, effectively the shortrange 'peripheral vision' eyes of the drone), a HUGE count (500-1,000 pops) of expendable countermeasures and a relatively small base-signature, and 'fearless' or no, the little demon would just be darn hard to shoot down.
So, an invisible, long-league booted, incredibly, shoot-it's-own-a$$-off 'agile' airframe that can be run using simple to understand preprogrammed or 'waypoint active' command receptions and costs zero in terms of advanced maintenance and training costs. What do you do with it?
ANYTHING YOU DAMN WELL WANT.
Don't be cautious, or conservative, it certainly didn't get Saddam or Slobodan anything. So ATTACK!
Because you've got something that can threaten battle groups, AWACS and even -home airfields- (Aviano for instance is only about 400nm from Belgrade) at 'offshore' distances of 1Knm or more. Tired of being CM'd from afar? Blast that 'gunboat diplomacy' hull right out of the water.
And if they start using gas or cluster or heaven forbid /nukes/ on major theatre bases, it's all in the crapper because we could lose 10K men and 10 /billion/ dollars of hardware in a single run down a flightline (Bombers Make History, Fighters Make Bomb Runs Possible).
And we've removed our own theatre-nuclear option from ALL ships and aircraft so that 'threat' is no longer valid.
Heck, even a 'transfer of forces' (B-2) from the States isn't positively certain of penetration against a flying wall of IR-sighted killer drones and would only be thumb-plugging the dike after half of Holland is flooded (with rads) /anyway/...
There ARE potential R&D shortfalls. 'Small' agile-airplanes tend to have -very- tightly coupled control responses (more like a missile than a conventional airframe) which means you've got to have a fast-acting 'autonopilot' stability system that is more quick-efficient than that in any F-## airframe yet more 'open' to high-alpha, high-G sustained pointing cues than that aboard say a Tomahawk. AAM guidance algorithms would work but likely be 'jerky' and this also defeats you in cruise and formation modes.
We're currently 'conquering' this lag with higher pressure, faster-acting, systems aboard the X-36 testplane and other (ground rig) programs but we're doing it in such a half-*** manner that we'll never get useful data from it.
The 36 for instance has a T/Wr on the order of .25 if I remeber rightly. The HiMAT, depending on the fuel load, had one in the realm of 1.1+ I think but was MITL-controlled and hence probably pretty 'stable'. A -real- robo-aerobat would fly in either pitch axis to instantaneous load factors so high that you would be riding the accelerative stall on the 'weight' of pure thrustage pounds, likely in the 1.7-2:1 T/Wr area.
Sigh, and for want of all the petty leaves we just don't see the tree limb about to smack U.S. in the face... KP