The Pentagon’s New Drone Swarm Heralds a Future of Autonomous War Machines

 

On Oct. 26, 2016, a pair of Hornets flying above an empty part of California opened their bellies and released a robotic swarm. With machine precision, the fast-moving unmanned flying machines took flight, then moved to a series of waypoints, meeting objectives set for the swarm by a human controller. The brief flight of 103 tiny drones heralds a new age in how, exactly, America uses robots at war.

The Pentagon’s worked with Perdix drones since 2013, with the October flight using the military’s 6th generation of the devices. F/A-18 Hornets, long-serving Navy fighters, carried the drones and released them from flare dispensers. The small drones were the subject of an episode of CBS’s 60 Minutes, and they move so fast they’re hard to film. Below, in a clip from the Department of Defense, the drones are barely visible as dark blurs beneath the fighters. Continue reading

China Deploys New Bomber with Long-Range Land Attack Missile

China’s military recently deployed an upgraded strategic bomber that will carry the military’s new long-range land attack cruise missile, capable of attacking Hawaii and Guam, according to a draft congressional report.

The Oct. 8 draft of the forthcoming report of the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission also reveals that China has developed a new armed drone nearly identical to U.S. military’s Reaper. The Chinese missile-firing drone likely was developed through Chinese cyber espionage against U.S. defense contractors.

The report highlights a rapidly modernizing Chinese military that includes large numbers of new weapons and new warfighting techniques, including attack capabilities in space and cyberspace. Continue reading

Growth in China’s Drone Program Called ‘Alarming’

HONG KONG — At China’s biennial air show in Zhuhai this month, an imposing fleet of unmanned aerial vehicles was on display — drones bearing a striking resemblance to the American aircraft that have proved so deadly in attacks on insurgents in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

Israel, Britain and the United States have pretty much had a corner on the global drone market, but the recent Chinese air show and a Pentagon report have exploded that notion.

“In a worrisome trend, China has ramped up research in recent years faster than any other country,” said the unclassified analysis published in July by the Defense Science Board. “It displayed its first unmanned system model at the Zhuhai air show five years ago, and now every major manufacturer for the Chinese military has a research center devoted to unmanned systems.”

The report, which said “the military significance of China’s move into unmanned systems is alarming,” suggested that China could “easily match or outpace U.S. spending on unmanned systems, rapidly close the technology gaps and become a formidable global competitor in unmanned systems.Continue reading