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    Army Readies to Launch Drone Programs for Overmatch in Future Conflicts

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    CBP Predator B Drone San Angelo Regional Airport” by joncutrer is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    The U.S. Army is setting the stage for a future where drones not only enhance battlefield capabilities but also provide decisive advantages, as they move to formalize programs for first-person-view (FPV) and tethered drones by fiscal year 2025.

    FLA Drone Technology” by AirmanMagazine is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    These systems, which first gained attention on the Ukrainian frontlines for their efficiency in targeting enemy vehicles, are now seen as pivotal to achieving overmatch against adversaries.

    Best of the U.S. Air Force – Department of Defense Image Collection – September 1998” by expertinfantry is licensed under CC BY 2.0

    Lt. Col. Michael Brabner, managing small-drone requirements, elucidated the plan to field FPVs to infantry platoons and tethered drones to armored units by fiscal year 2026.

    Drone delivers payload to the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Henry M. Jackson” by #PACOM is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

    FPVs, known for their modular payload systems, will serve as “multi-tools in terms of lethality,” providing soldiers the flexibility to mount anti-personnel or anti-materiel explosives as the situation demands.

    Gyrodyne QH-50 DASH Drone Helicopter” by rocbolt is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

    As the Army advances, they are not merely replicating Ukraine’s improvised drone strategy. Brabner stressed the importance of ensuring that armaments “will be able to be safely affixed to them and then put into the air,” adhering to strict safety and compliance standards.

    Italian Army – 41st Regiment ‘Cordenons’ operator launching a Bramor C4EYE drone” by Italian Army is licensed under CC BY 2.5

    In the realm of drone capabilities, the Army is also considering the integration of these UAVs in network extensions, a technological leap that could revolutionize military communication systems.

    Army engineers demonstrate new system for on-demand 3-D printed drones” by Army Research Laboratory is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

    Recent experiments conducted by the 25th Infantry Division used drones equipped with radios to significantly extend encrypted communication networks, a boon for operations in challenging environments like dense jungles.

    Army engineers demonstrate new system for on-demand 3-D printed drones” by Army Research Laboratory is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

    The Army’s investment in drones extends beyond mere enhancements in direct combat roles. The fiscal 2025 budget request earmarks more than $400 million for systems to counter adversaries’ drones, addressing the growing need for both kinetic and non-kinetic solutions to combat the increasing threat of enemy UAVs.

    Army engineers demonstrate new system for on-demand 3-D printed drones” by Army Research Laboratory is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

    Doug Bush, the Army’s acquisition chief, highlighted the urgency, “We have to keep going on that even faster,” acknowledging the ongoing assaults American troops face under Central Command in the Middle East.

    Army engineers demonstrate new system for on-demand 3-D printed drones” by Army Research Laboratory is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

    The budget plan incorporates a $447 million allocation for counter-drone capabilities, including the procurement of Coyote interceptors and investments in ground readiness.

    Army engineers demonstrate new system for on-demand 3-D printed drones” by Army Research Laboratory is licensed under CC PDM 1.0

    In a nod to the escalating drone threat, Gen. Randy George, the Army’s chief of staff, emphasized the necessity for more counter-UAS batteries within formations, a sentiment echoed in the budget’s focus on counter-UAS capabilities.

    Drone
    Photo by David Thái on Pexels

    The Army’s commitment to drone advancements is not just centered on offense and defense but also encapsulates training for soldiers. Plans are underway to introduce a new FPV course, potentially commencing in early fiscal 2025, with a comprehensive curriculum spanning three to four weeks.

    ai generated, plane, flight
    Photo by Multispets on Pixabay

    This initiative aligns with the Special Operations Forces’ Robotics and Unmanned Systems Integration Course, which trains soldiers in the tactical application of drones and ground robots.

    aerial, aeroplane, aircraft
    Photo by 2h1yucel on Pixabay

    Sgt. Adrian O’Neal, involved in crafting the training program, extolled the tactical versatility of FPVs for “attacking targets of opportunity” and reconnaissance in contested airspaces, acknowledging their expendability and the ability to “avoid being shot at.”

    Italian Army – 41st Regiment ‘Cordenons’ IA-3 Colibrì drone” by Italian Army is licensed under CC BY 2.5

    The U.S. Army’s strategic pivot towards incorporating drone technology in its arsenal represents a transformative approach to modern warfare. With these advancements, the Army not only acknowledges the evolving landscape of military engagements but also demonstrates a clear intent to establish technological overmatch in future conflicts.

    Relevant articles:
    FPVs, tethered drones could become formal Army programs in 2025, Defense One
    Army seeks more than $400M in fiscal 2025 for systems to counter small drones, DefenseScoop
    Army wants drones to play a role in extending network range, Rugged Mobility for Business
    Breaking Reports and Analysis for Government Employees, GovExec.com

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