Drones are a reality of warfare, and they cannot be denied. The world powers are racing to acquire the latest technology in the field to gain an edge over their adversaries. Having said that, from the first deployment of armed drones in Mosul 6 years back to Kamikaze Drones being used in Ukraine, drone technology has totally altered the way battles are fought, and battlegrounds are studied. The US Army, like every other army, keeps on endeavoring to attain/develop the latest technologies for their troops, and drones are no exception.
In a recently posted video, the commander of the U.S. Army’s National Training Center sums up what troops will be facing in the future and how the military is reeling to prepare for it. Brig. Gen. Curtis Taylor uploaded a video on Twitter onto his official account; the caption read,
“At sunrise this morning, a swarm of 40 quadcopters all equipped with cameras, MILES, and lethal munition capable launched in advance of 11th ACR’s [11th Armored Cavalry Regiment] attack on a prepared defense by 1AD [1st Armored Division]. Drones will be as important in the first battle of the next war as artillery is today.”
The video shows a swarm of drones flying at dawn, charging toward its targets. The video shot at the military operation in urban terrain (MOUT) facility, one of several elaborate training grounds at the National Training Center (NTC), gives away futuristic vibes.
At the NTC, the resident opposition force 11th ACR has enough experience to give a tough time to Armored formations coming in for training in different scenarios. As the battlefield is evolving, so are the mock tactics. Now drone swarms have also been added to the mock drills, and troops and formations are adequately prepared for the future threat. Or should we say the most potent present-day threat. It would not be wrong to compare the importance artillery holds today on the battlefield with the importance of drones in the future.
The latest forms of weaponry available with leading armies around the globe also can target one drone at a time. If that remains, the case of being overrun by such swarms will become a real possibility and a grim one for any defender.
Moreover, autonomous drones are more difficult to counter than drones that rely on two-way communication for operating, also known as man-in-the-loop control systems. Drones operating on man-in-the-loop control systems can easily be jammed, but autonomous swarms do not have this limitation. Hence, these would emerge as a significant threat for military powers developing this technology to be used in future wars.
Another fact that must be borne in mind is the timing of this video, around 9/11; it is a reminder for us all that even the mighty Americans think that a drone swarm may initiate the next 9/11.
It is, however, encouraging at least for Americans to see that their army is moving in the right direction and providing troops with practices on how to deal with this threat on the ground. According to some reports, such practices have been going on since 2019.
Undoubtedly, the future battlefield will be drones centric, and the defender better equipped against drones will be the one who will survive.