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UK military aims to add swarm drones to arsenal by end of 2019

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Britain’s defense secretary, Gavin Williamson, has indicated his country will fund the development of “swarm squadrons of network-enabled drones capable of confusing and overwhelming enemy air defenses.”

While delivering an address to London think tank, Royal United Services Institute, he acknowledged that drone swarm technology was becoming a part of modern battle. He reportedly encouraged military leaders to embrace the idea of building drone swarm technology into their arsenal.

Drone swarm technology has a number of applications, the most notable of which, is using them to perform flashy light shows at big public events.

While the defense secretary predicted the addition of such technology to the UK arsenal by year’s end, some experts say that target is unrealistic.

Drone swarm technology has existed for more than a decade. As the Washington Post reports:

“Since 2006 the Naval Research Lab has maintained an exploratory research and development program called Close-in Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft, or ‘CICADA’ for short.

It envisions tiny, disposable aircraft that are meant to be deployed in large numbers to ‘seed’ areas with small electronic sensors, something that could allow military surveillance of dense jungle areas without sending a human pilot into enemy territory.”

In essence, by sending in a large swarm of low-cost drones that emit a signature similar to missiles or aircraft, you overwhelm your enemy’s air defense systems.

As we’ve told you before – there are many military experts who warn against the adoption of autonomous weapons, such as drones, because of their potential to unintentionally escalate conflicts. We hope that any country’s that decide to incorporate swarms of autonomous drone into their arsenals, does so with extreme caution.

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