It is time for the U.S. military drones to move over as LOCUST is slated to be the next killer bee for the U.S. Navy. Over the last few years, drones have been one of the most widely used weapons by the United States military for targeting terrorists and their hide outs across the world, especially the Middle-East region of Asia. Though the drones have been operational for quite some time now, they have also been infamous due to criticism from various human rights groups for causing many civilian casualties in the targeted areas.
This time, it is an upgrade to the drone technology showcased by the U.S. Navy. After looking at the upgrade, it would be fair to say that Locust will be the next massively lethal weapon for U.S. Navy, and it could possibly mean that drones would be replaced by the new weapon system in the near future. The Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology program referred to as Locust, has been developed on the same platform as the drones.
The U.S. Navy is developing a weapon system that can launch drones, or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from cannons. These drones would be capable of swarming in together and executing a coordinated offensive or defensive strike. The United States Office of Naval Research (ONR) claimed that its Locust program would be able to fly autonomously and completely overwhelm an adversary. The ‘wings’ of these drones would unfold once they are in the air after being shot from a cannon. They communicate with one another and fly in a formation of sorts, before wreaking havoc on the target and destroying it completely.
In 2016, the U.S. Navy has planned to demonstrate the use of Locust which can launch up to 30 drones within a minute. The ONR further informed that due to the compact nature of these drones and their launcher, the Locust system could be deployed from land vehicles, aircraft, or ships. This might mean that it could very well be game over for drones as Locust will be the next killer bee for the U.S. Navy.
Though all the missions of the Locust technology would be pre-programmed, a person would always be monitoring the missions. Lee Mastroianni, Program Manager, ONR, also said that swarming autonomous flight of this level has never been done before. Not only would the Locust program multiply combat power by several times, it would also reduce the risk to the fighter pilots. The traditional weapon systems and manned aircrafts and fighter jets could be used for purposes other than carrying out strikes as the UAVs would be re-configurable for different missions. They would also be expendable in nature. Apart from this, the U.S. Navy is also said to be developing unmanned drone ships that can be used to detect super quiet, enemy submarines deep into the oceans.
This technology has the potential to revolutionize warfare in future, just like cannons and guns did when they were first mass-produced. Locust can also fire these small drones from a mechanism resembling rocket launchers. The technology is said to be due for primetime by 2016. Locust could make drones look redundant in the near future and be the next killer bee for the U.S. Navy as well as military. It will be at the forefront of all military conflicts in the future. However, the idea of pre-programmed military missions being carried out by autonomous swarms of drones is likely to raise concerns across the world.
By Ankur Sinha