May 28, 2024

Anduril Is Building Out the Pentagon’s Dream of Deadly Drone Swarms

Source: Wired

Journalist: Will Knight

“This is a big shift,” says Stacie Pettyjohn, a senior fellow at the Center for a New American Security , a Washington, DC, think tank. She says that the US military has so far mostly used AI for target recognition and planning rather than for controlling systems. The CCA project is “a huge step forward for uncrewed systems and for the Air Force and Navy,” she says.

The CCA project is the culmination of years of work inside the Pentagon developing a vision of more automated aerial warfare. In 2014, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency conducted a study called the Air Dominance Initiative and concluded that a combination of next-generation fighter jets and uncrewed systems or “loyal wingman” capable of working in teams would be the surest way to gain an advantage in future conflict. The ultimate goal is for several drones, similar to those in development by Anduril and General Atomic, to accompany a conventional, crewed aircraft on a mission and collaborate in flexible ways.

The underlying philosophy is that on the battlefield there is safety, and overwhelming power, in numbers. Giving US pilots a clutch of robot wingmen is supposed to make them deadlier and more likely to return from missions unharmed. And the project is intended to be just the start of a bigger shift toward deploying autonomous aircraft in much larger numbers.

“The CCA represents a move toward swarms or at least larger numbers of uncrewed systems,” Pettyjohn says. “As a tactic, swarming could potentially allow smaller cheaper drones to overcome more expensive systems. It could be a game-changing asymmetric capability.”

Read the full story and more from Wired.


  • Stacie Pettyjohn

    Senior Fellow and Director, Defense Program

    Stacie Pettyjohn is a Senior Fellow and Director of the Defense Program at the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Her areas of expertise include defense strategy, post...