Drone Swarms: An Asymmetric Game-Changer?

2nd Marine Division Fly Day

A 2020 backgrounder on drone swarms cited the tactical promise of stringing together dozens if not hundreds of UAVs into coordinated attack and defense maneuvers, though the article noted that the technology remained largely theoretical. Fast-forward just four years and the drone swarm is a battlefield reality that is upending conflicts in Ukraine, Israel, and the Red Sea.


What is a drone swarm?

Drone swarm technology involves coordinating groups of three to thousands of drones to execute missions collectively with minimal human intervention. Compared to single drones, swarms offer enhanced efficiency and resilience, performing multiple tasks simultaneously and remaining on mission when individual drones fail. A swarm can be controlled in various ways, including preprogrammed missions with specific flight paths, centralized control from a ground station or a single control drone, and distributed control where drones communicate and collaborate using shared information (fully autonomous). More sophisticated control techniques involve swarm intelligence, inspired by the collective behavior of insects and birds, and artificial intelligence to enable drone swarms to adapt to new or unforeseen situations.


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