(FreedomBeacon.com)- Swarms of miniature drones are being launched into the air by the U.S. Army to see if they are more effective at carrying explosive payloads or performing reconnaissance tasks. The drone swarm will also be assessed for artillery aiming and battle damage.
To revolutionize its aviation department and improve the “speed, reach, eyesight, and lethality of the army’s aerial fleets,” the army is developing small drones known as Air-Launched Effects.
During the Army’s yearly EDGE war game, Air-Launched Effects were tested in the Utah desert at Dugway Proving Ground. The drones were launched from a UH-60 Black Hawk helicopter. The army tried ranges of up to 286 miles for the swarming drone, also known as the ALTIUS-900. The new drones have been compared to a lethal “wolfpack” by some. The tiny, unmanned drone can hover and skulk for at least four hours and carries a nine-inch payload.
In earlier exercises, the ALTIUS accomplished tasks on its own. Now the army wants to learn more about how these drones interact in swarms.
The branch refers to this as “intelligent teaming,” It’s up to each soldier to choose how to use a crowded Air-Launched Effect. Should it be used to destroy an enemy vehicle or for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance? How many drones should swarm?
With input from the individual soldier, each of these units must determine how many Air Launch Effects are required to complete the task. Groups of 30 are used in the swarm testing.
Drone swarms also fit into the army’s vision of future warfare. In addition to the tactical applications at the battalion level and below, the military is interested in a greater potential scope.
Is it possible for the army to make air-launched effects common on the battlefield? The simplicity of use would be the first step. Attack or utility helicopters could launch drone swarms.
The battlefield assessment would then be made by subordinate units collaborating with battalion commanders for situational awareness. The next step would be selecting the proper drone mission parameter, such as attack mode, recon, or data collection. Obtaining a war damage estimate after seeing a picture of the battlefield beyond the horizon would continue.
The battlefields in Ukraine are filled with numerous types of drones. It’s only a matter of time before swarms enter the mix too.