They are too small to carry an effective payload, but as a group they are capable of affecting the battleground.
The trend is clear – “swarms” of mini- or micro-unmanned air systems (UAS) are expected in the coming years.
To enable this, “task-sharing” payloads will be needed, and these are being developed now.
But how far are UAS swarms from implementation? While there is no clear answer, we may yet be surprised.
Israeli experts emphasise that the problem is not the technology involved, but instead the understanding of the military commanders that this concept is possible.
Work on developing UAS swarm technology is being performed mainly in the US and Israel.
Boeing performed autonomous communications and operation of a swarm of small UAS over of eastern Oregon a few years ago.
This test involved two ScanEagles made by Boeing/Insitu and one Procerus – developed by the John Hopkins University
The swarm technology aims to imitate the way insects communicate and perform tasks as an intelligent group.
The UAS that participated in the Boeing tests worked together to search the test area through self-generating waypoints and terrain mapping, while simultaneously sending information to teams on the ground.
And now the assessment: Israel has been using all types of UAS for over 40 years, and may be a leading force in the development of UAS swarms.
Experts talk generally without mentioning a specific programme. They assess that such a swarm will consist of at least five micro-UAS, and will use a network-centric type of communication system that will allow the “task-sharing effect”.