The Russian-Ukrainian conflict pushed the United States to develop autonomous swarms of drones, 1,000-mile guns

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Update: Russia has launched Fr. large-scale invasion Ukraine February 24, 2022

When Russia annexed Crimea and intervened in the Donetsk basin of Ukraine, or the Donbass, in 2014, its military revealed new technologyorganization and tactics – and turned most of the US military’s views on modern warfare. Now, like Moscow keeps US and European leaders in mind as to whether it will invade Ukraine again, the Pentagon is promoting projects that reflect the priorities set after the start of the Russian-Ukrainian conflict.

Technologies currently being developed include futuristic projects such as packs autonomous drones and a super cannon that can fire a projectile at a distance of 1,000 miles. And perhaps the most stunningly ambitious campaign aims to combine existing radars and communications with modern cloud computing and artificial intelligence to create an automated system that coordinates operations in multiple combat areas.

Many of these efforts can be traced back to the U.S. Army a study of Russia’s invasion in 2014 Ukraine. During this invasion, Russia demonstrated the ability to expand the traditional battlefield through the use of cyberspace, electronic warfare and information weapons. The study found that in future combat, Russia’s new capabilities could be combined with robotic weapons and long-range strikes using high-precision missiles, including from air and space launches. The net effect contained in the report will leave the U.S. in several key areas, including armor, artillery, air defense, space and cyberspace. Catching up, the authors write, the United States will require adaptation to the “new realities of the modern battlefield” or face defeat in conventional combat, which could jeopardize NATO’s cohesion and increase the likelihood of nuclear conflict.

“We are at a turning point, and we have strategic competitors who have large military forces,” said General James McConville, the U.S. Army’s chief of staff. He notes that the US military is focused on anti-terrorist operations in Afghanistan and Iraq. But a potential fight with Russia – or China, which the Pentagon now sees as a major threat to the US military – will require a shift in focus to another set of technologies. “To deter strategic competitors,” McConville said, “we need to be able to conduct large-scale combat operations.”

Multidomain operations

In November last year, the command of future armies conducted a large-scale experiment on modernization called Convergence Project 21. The Arizona event showcased more than 100 new technologies, all aimed at advancing a new idea of ​​how to fight that emerged from Russia’s operations in 2014: Joint Domain Command and Control (JADC2).

This technological project would allow to quickly coordinate the battle on several fronts. Just as a travel sharing app combines location, distance and time data on the go to determine the best match for a particular driver and passenger, JADC2 seeks to integrate all US military intelligence, surveillance and intelligence into a cloud of data and use artificial intelligence and algorithms to match the best weapons against a given target. Such coordination would ideally unite the army, navy, air force and marines into a single combat force in which any sensor could connect to any shooter. For example, if F-16 fighter radar equipment spotted an enemy target, and JADC2 determined that the submarine was best positioned to fire a cruise missile for a ground attack, then that deduction, which can now take hours or days to coordinate air strikes and marine domains – can be executed almost in real time.

“The prospect of a major Russian attack on Ukraine this spring may give us a study of what a high-class multi-domain attack looks like,” said Melanie Marlowe, a foreign researcher at the Center for Strategic and International Studies. “The combination [uncrewed aerial vehicles], missiles, electronic attacks and various ground forces will be a huge problem. ” The idea is that an capability like JADC2 could tackle this problem by helping U.S. troops and their allies simultaneously organize attacks in a variety of areas, including ground, naval, air, space, cyberspace, and electronic warfare. Hopefully, this will lead to a close adversary, such as Russia or China, to new dilemmas at a pace he can’t match. “We’re looking for speed, range, and convergence in our systems, so we’re going to have more comparisons,” McConville says, using the Pentagon’s term for dominance. “We seek benefits, we seek benefits, and we do so by working together … as a combined force with allies and partners.”

Swarming drones

Earlier this month The Pentagon has introduced new priorities which aim to stimulate innovation in 14 areas of “critical technology”. Among the key areas are artificial intelligence and autonomy, because science and research in such categories are needed to support weapons systems to fight for a well-protected territory: drones.

To penetrate highly protected and controversial environments, such as those faced by the U.S. military when fighting China or Russia, Washington will need a set of technologies, says Heidi Shu, the U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense for Research and Technology. Shu says that when Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin at her first meeting last year asked her what kind of technology it was, she replied, “Make sure we can penetrate with low-cost drones.” (Attribute systems are designed with a limited lifespan: these swarms of drones will be deployed with the assumption that they will not return.) to be able to work. without GPS, ”explains Shu. She says she wants to combine artificial intelligence and technology to automate fleets of robotic aircraft, ground vehicles, and surface and submarine ships. If they can all perform tasks with limited human intervention, even in an environment where satellite navigation tools no longer work, then they can perform missions such as reconnaissance, surveillance and reconnaissance, as well as targeted attacks.

Shu’s new efforts will build on existing U.S. commercial and military work in the field. For example, the Pentagon has already demonstrated the ability deploy 3-D-printed micro-drones from aircraft. This would help fighter pilots avoid the risk of wandering over enemy territory.

A deep blow

In early January the U.S. military has unveiled plans to conduct a test fire of a prototype supergun in 2024. It is assumed that this “long-range gun” will be able to hit targets at a distance of 1000 miles, far beyond 25-mile reach of modern artillery.

One of the key lessons of the Russian invasion of Ukraine in 2014 was the need to expand the US military’s long-range strike systems. Now the army is on track to launch a number of new long-range missiles by 2023. The long-range gun is not yet on the list of weapons. This is what top leaders call a “big bet” in their science and technology because it promises but still has to prove its maturity before it is built for real missions. The idea is that these weapons will be used in tandem with new long-range hypersonic weapons, a system that launches from trucks that launches missiles at hypersonic speeds. This combination could break through the enemy’s dense, complex air defenses and create a hole for a breakthrough for the U.S. military. Even the gun itself would be a much cheaper alternative to the long-range supersonic weapon, which costs $ 106 million per shot.

In 2020, Congress, interested in the practicality of what lawmakers called an “imaginary concept”, instructed the National Academy of Sciences, Technology and Medicine to hold independent review project gun and a report on its implementation. The results of this study have not yet been published, but the group has informed army leaders – and key service officials say they are optimistic. “The expert bodies we’ve looked at are coming in and saying, ‘Yeah, you can do it,'” said Brigadier General John Rafferty, director of the Army’s future command to develop new long-range missiles and guns. “There are, of course, problems with that … But it’s the only investment that seeks to make something like this mission more accessible.”

The Russian-Ukrainian conflict pushed the United States to develop autonomous swarms of drones, 1,000-mile guns

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