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US Military Unleashes “Swarms of Swarms”: Multi-Domain Attack Drones from Land, Air, and Sea

The United States (US) military is developing a new weapon called the Swarms of Swarms. This weapon system literally means a group of combat drones that can control other groups of combat drones.

This weapon system is similar to the Russian approach to bait and destroy Ukrainian air defenses using drones and cruise missiles. For this reason, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency or DARPA developed the Autonomous Multi-Domain Adaptive Swarms-of-Swarms (AMASS) which is more easily called Swarms of Swarms.

The US military is currently seeking a counter-Anti-Access/Area-Denial (A2/AD) autonomous drone swarm system, which can command other drone swarms. So it will use a lot of aerial, surface and underwater, as well as ground drones to defeat the enemy or target military installations.

What is Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD)?

What is meant by A2/AD is an effort to deal with the freedom of maneuver of enemy weapons on the battlefield. Both in the form of attack aircraft, warships, and ballistic missiles, as well as special cruise missiles designed to attack the main target.

The US’s current counter-A2/AD systems, such as long-range precision guided weapons, are judged to be too little expensive, and require detailed targeting information. For this reason, it was developed using three types of drones, namely Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USV), and Unmanned Ground Systems (UGV) as alternative counter-A2/AD platforms.

Then, the different drones act together, through cross-platform coordination between a UAV, USV, and UGV group. This capability extends to swarms controlled by other swarms (or Swarms of Swarms), enabled by the Swarms of Swarms Protocol (SOSP) language to be developed by DARPA.

DARPA conducted small-scale, live and virtual demonstrations to prove this in principle. Drones and missiles can coordinate, gather, and disseminate intelligence, conduct coordinated Electronic Assault (EA), and engage targets to successfully deter, degrade, or defeat enemy A2/AD capabilities.

“Different UAV, USV and UGV swarms will be able to communicate through an Artificial Intelligence (AI) interface using the same language. Then coordinate the implementation of the desired large-scale effects,” DARPA’s statement was quoted from Eurasiantimes.

Operating a swarm of swarms requires thousands of UAVs, USVs and UGVs which will act independently and in coordination with one another, either attacking, monitoring, or electronically interfering with enemy A2/AD installations. However, for operations there will be manned precision long-range fire, in which drones and missiles can be used in coordination.