Let Robots Do Our Fighting For Us

Written by Jason Simpkins
Posted November 22, 2018 at 7:00PM

What’s the future of warfare look like?

For centuries humans fought hand-to-hand, with clubs, swords, pikes, and maces.

Those weapons were replaced by cannons and flintlock rifles, which gave way to artillery and machine guns, which were superseded by tanks and fighter jets.

What’s next?

Robots.

Tanks, jets, and massive aircraft carriers continue to play a part in today’s military modernization efforts. But that won’t be the case a decade from now.

We’re moving away from that and towards a new era of robot warriors that do our fighting for us.

Indeed, the U.S. military could have more robot soldiers on the battlefield than real ones as soon as 2025, according to John Bassett, a top British intelligence expert and security consultant of 20 years at the U.K.’s Government Communications Headquarters (GCHQ).

Another expert, Lieutenant-General Andrey Grigoriev, head of the Advanced Research Foundation (ARF), agrees.

“I see a greater robotization, in fact, future warfare will involve operators and machines, not soldiers shooting at each other on the battlefield,” Grigoriev says. “The soldier would gradually turn into an operator and be removed from the battlefield.”

Robots, drones, unmanned vehicles… Call them what you will, but they already serve key functions in modern combat. They perform reconnaissance, target enemy forces, and deliver ordnance.

But that’s just the start.

A Next Generation Combat Vehicle (NGCV) ranks second among the Army’s Big Six modernization priorities.

And it’s likely to feature a companion drone that can take off from the vehicle, fly ahead to find enemies, and dispatch them with force.

This is what the Army calls a “loitering munition,” which means it hangs around in the sky looking for targets and then delivers a suicide strike.

Essentially, the drone flies into enemies, “kamikaze” style, and it does so with precision and minimal assistance from ground operators.

That is, it’s automated.

You can see how it’d all work in this concept video…

The Marine Corps is looking at a similar system. It wants prototypes for a cutting-edge scout unit by 2023. And its plan for it is extremely ambitious.

At the end of the day, it wants a family of manned and unmanned vehicles, fully integrated, and working in harmony in air, on land, and at sea.

Here is an artist’s rendition of what that’d look like…

Drone Interoperability Concept

The ultimate goal is for this to be a fast, lightweight group of armaments capable of electronic warfare and precision strikes.

The Air Force, meanwhile, is exploring the concept of airborne aircraft carriers, capable of unleashing a swarm of drones to overwhelm enemy defenses.

Interesting side note: The U.S. military actually first explored the concept of airborne aircraft carriers in the 1930s. The Navy successfully launched a pair of biplanes from a helium-filled airship. However, the idea was abandoned after a series of catastrophic airship crashes.

Today’s designs are light years ahead.

In April, the Pentagon’s advanced research-and-development arm, DARPA, awarded a 21-month, $38.6 million contract to Dynetics for a new class of drones whose wings can be folded up for easier storage in the belly of a plane.

They’re being called “Gremlins,” and they ought to be able to launch from a plane, coordinate their own attack, and then fly back.

“You can send volleys of swarms over and over again and really just overwhelm an adversary with that complexity,” says Tim Keeter, a deputy program manager and chief engineer at Dynetics.

The lower cost could also allow the military to take greater risks and be more aggressive on the battlefield because no human lives or billion-dollar equipment is at stake.

The Gremlins program is part of a broader school of thought among military theorists, which holds that the pilots of the future will fly into enemy airspace flanked by unmanned or robotic companions.

That, too, is in the works.

DIUx, the Pentagon’s Silicon Valley technology investment arm, has already invested in robotic, jet-powered drones designed to fly alongside fighter planes to absorb enemy fire.

They’re essentially flying shields.

“I definitely think collaborative systems are the future,” said Assistant Secretary of the Air Force Will Roper.

And finally, the Navy is working on autonomous submarines that can clear mines, scout dangerous areas, or carry a payload.

It almost goes without saying, but this isn’t just a U.S. initiative, either.

Russia and China are hard at work on their own robot armies.

That makes sense because neither country will ever be able to compete with the United States on something like aircraft carriers. (The U.S. Navy has 20 carriers, while China and Russia have two between them.)

But if they can send a swarm of cheap, disposable robots into a carrier formation and take out a multibillion-dollar war machine, that’d be a devastating blow.

Make no mistake, this is a fascinating and rapidly-growing industry with tons of potential profit for investors. And if you want to get in on it, you can sign up for my latest report, which details three drone stocks that are working on the very projects I’ve discussed here today.

You can find that here.

Fight on,

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Jason Simpkins

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Jason Simpkins is Assistant Managing Editor of the Outsider Club and Investment Director of The Wealth Warrior, a financial advisory focused on security companies and defense contractors. For more on Jason, check out his editor's page. 

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