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Marines testing drone swarms controlled from a single operator

In the near future, one marine could have the ability to send out multiple drones from a single tablet. These aircraft would have the ability to swarm the enemy, jamming their communications and eradicating designated targets. The end goal is to have up to 15 drones in the air, each flying for hours at a time without needing to land.

Current progress

With current drone technology, The Marine Corps Warfighting Lab is able to successfully deploy six of these drones at a single time again all operated by a single soldier. The lab is shooting for up to 15 drones per soldier each of which assigned to different tasks, carrying different payloads.

Flight time is no problem after the Warfighting Lab took to the desert to run endurance tests on the drones. According to Capt. Matt Cornachio, a fires project officer in the Warfighting Lab’s science and technology division, one of the UAV’s flew for almost 2 hours straight. They hope to improve this number as Cornachio stated:

“It’s not out of the realm of possibility that these things could be in the air for three or four hours, so the smaller, the better.”

The future of drone swarms

According to, Cornachio and the Warfighting Lab are looking for drones with many different abilities, including swarming, automatic-target recognition, kinetic-strike and electronic-warfare capabilities. These drones have the potential to aid troops on the ground by using precision strikes, replacing mortar fire which can be rather unpredictable.

One of the main benefits of using drones is minimizing the risk of losing human lives. Drones with different abilities take on the dangerous roles soldiers play in the battlefield. In another statement from Cornachio, he said:

“We can use manned-unmanned teaming and unmanned systems to take on some of the most dangerous tasks that Marines are executing in that kind of an urban environment.”

The development of these drone swarms is a part of a Marine Corps strategy called Sea Dragon 2025. Marines are implementing advanced technologies into the battlefield like self-driving vehicles, robotic elements, and of course drones. The use of these new elements ultimately limit a soldier’s presence on the battlefield and minimizes risk to human life.

What do you think about marines being able to control drone swarms? Let us know in the comments below.


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Photo credit: Armed Science