Remember those images of the D-Day landings in France? Now image those same scenes with swarms of drones engulfing the enemy positions gathering intelligence, blocking communications, and delivering deadly munitions.
That is the vision behind LOCUST (Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology) which has been developed by the Office of Naval Research to bring a flotilla of weapons including underwater drones and mine countermeasures, unmanned surface vessels, and unmanned aircraft systems upon enemy positions during amphibious landings.
LOCUST will help save the lives of U.S. Marines, according to Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, the U.S. Marine Corps commanding general for combat development.
“Today, we see this manned-unmanned airlift, what we see what the other services are doing, along with our partners in the United States Navy. Whether it’s on the surface, under the surface or in the air, we’re looking for the opportunity for, ‘How will Marines move ashore differently in the future?’ ” Walsh told a crowd at the Unmanned Systems Defense Conference outside Washington, D.C., hosted by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International.
“Instead of Marines being the first wave in, it’ll be unmanned robotics … sensing, locating and maybe killing out front of those Marines,” he said. “We see that ‘swarm-type’ technology as exactly the type of thing — it will lower cost, dominate the battlespace, leverage capabilities … and be able to complicate the problems for the enemy.”
The Marine Corps appears to be rapidly embracing the use of drones for infantry. This will undoubtedly lead to improvements in drones technology that will eventually trickle-down to both commercial and consumer UAS's.