Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs) have become ubiquitous in many militaries as they find even more ways to apply this technology. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA has a drone development project that the US military is perfecting into a winning strategy.
Little critters can be helpful
Planes do not carry many weapons because it will affect how far they can go. This is especially true for small aircraft. The Gremlin program is a solution to that problem. Some of the advantages of small drones are that they can be flown to support any aircraft and can swarm, reported PopSci.
Air Force Lt. Gen. Brian Robinson, the deputy commander of Air Mobility Command, announced that a series of tests in October or November will be done, reported Forbes. The test will showcase the ability to launching and rearming while in flight, key points in the project's success.
Usually, aircraft take off from airstrips and travel to reach their destination. One problem with this scenario is that planes cannot be fly indefinitely. It takes time to land, refuel, and rearm its weapons.
Nevertheless, if any part of the targets can move, like personnel, tanks, or anything that goes on a truck, it is desirable to have planes that can adapt and pursue them from the air. This where smaller drones come in handy. DARPA's Gremlin Drones is the perfect system for this function.
Combo fighter and loyal wingman
Pairing a long-endurance UAV and a fighter plane is a good combo to consider, as they complement each other. For example, a Reaper drone can fly around longer, or an F-15 can have an extra set of missiles or bombs at its disposal, cited the Drive.
One drawback is how much the Air Force will be paying for operating these dual technologies. For instance, Reaper UAVs need human controllers and expensive consoles to operate.
It is accepted that on a battlefield with little risk of getting shot down it would be worthwhile to deploy expensive equipment. But the skies are getting more dangerous, and controlled skies like Iraq and Afghanistan are not always the case. New tech is needed to adapt to these situations.
Like Gremlins, these UAVs will be troublemakers
DARPA has designed the Gremlin drones as a way to deal with changes in air superiority and suppression by the enemy during a war. These machines are can work in less time and distance. They are also more cost-effective because they are cheap to maintain and no human is endangered.
Smaller drones will attack autonomously and look for hostiles. They can be carried by planes and launch from there. A small group can connect to a swarm that will assault targets. This synchronization is one of their special functions.
Most UAVs will swarm a target depending on the information shared between the units, AI will decide what happens next. One of the Gremlins will be controlling the ones that will follow and share data controlling all units.
If one is destroyed, the next one can step up to eliminate a target. Also, they can decide how to attack as a loose group or clustered in one formation. This adaptability has inherent advantages like keeping skilled pilots unharmed in a high-intensity encounter.
DARPA's Gremlin Drones development is led by two firms, Dynetics and the dronemaker Kratos. They combine their expertise for this cost-effective combat system for the US military.