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Air Force Special Operations Command Developing Drone Swarms for ISR, Strike Missions

MQ-9 Reaper

Air Force Special Operations Command Developing Drone Swarms for ISR, Strike Missions

The U.S. Air Force Special Operations Command aims to create multiple artificial intelligence-powered drone fleets under its Adaptive Airborne Enterprise project. A2E’s goal is to have a single operator manage each drone swarm to enhance situational awareness and hit more targets.

Speaking at the Global SOF Special Air Warfare Symposium in Florida, AFSOC Commander Lt. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind said AFSOC is considering using MQ-9 Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles and other medium-sized uncrewed aircraft as mother ships for the swarms of autonomous drones designed to support intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions or strike operations, Nextgov reported.

Recently, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc. announced that it secured a contract with AFSOC to provide three MQ-9B SkyGuardian aircraft, which will be used as a pathfinder for A2E concepts and technologies. The first SkyGuardian is set for delivery by the end of 2023.

The U.S. Navy has a similar program for maritime operations. At the National Defense Industrial Association Expeditionary Warfare Conference, Navy Secretary Carlos Del Toro unveiled a plan to create a hybrid fleet that would involve a mother ship that will deploy underwater drones in a contested environment.

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Category: Future Trends

Tags: Adaptive Airborne Enterprise Air Force Special Operations Command drone swarm Future Trends MQ-9 Reaper Nextgov Tony Bauernfeind