Future Trends

Air Force Plans to Expand Drone Use

Battle drones

Air Force Plans to Expand Drone Use

The U.S. Air Force’s Special Operations Forces Command has revealed plans to expand its Adaptive Airborne Enterprise initiative, an experiment it conducted in December 2023 to test the capabilities of three MQ-9 Reapers and smaller Group 2 drones. 

In an interview at the recent SOF Week conference, AFSOC Commander Lt. Gen. Tony Bauernfeind said USAF is looking to include more drones and add the capability of handing off control to deployed service members. He also discussed how the service is tackling what areas of the mission should be automated and which should be handled by a human, Defense One reported.

The service branch is also looking at other innovative technologies to help realize its unmanned systems ambitions. Bauernfeind talked about plans to take advantage of 3D printing to manufacture small drones after seeing the success achieved by Ukraine during its conflict with Russia.

Besides investing in UAS, the Air Force is also investing in other technologies to ensure the United States’ continued air dominance. The Next Generation Air Dominance effort aims to develop a sixth-generation family of systems that will support its F-22 Raptor fleet, improving lethality and abilities to survive in a highly contested environment.

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Category: Future Trends