The project will be led by the Strategic Technology Office of the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), the Pentagon's main military research agency. The project itself has yet to be formally announced, but DARPA has confirmed the project's name, the "Autonomous Multi-Domain Adaptive Swarms-of-Swarms" (AMASS) program. (Related: Autonomous KILLER BOTS to dominate battlefields soon as war in Ukraine leads to significant advances in drone technology.)
"DARPA's singular and enduring mission is to make pivotal investments in breakthrough technologies for national security," said a spokesperson for the agency in an email. "The DARPA AMASS program is exploring the use of swarms-of-swarms to conduct military operations in highly contested environments that pose great risk to our soldiers, sailors, airmen and marines. It is meant to inform future military programs of record and not to be a military program of record itself."
Pentagon solicitation documents strongly suggest that the department believes in developing large robotic armies for modern warfare. The official launch of AMASS would mark the introduction of drone warfare to American military doctrine at an unprecedented level.
DARPA even suggested that AMASS is meant to counter a very specific threat by noting that the program "will be experimentation and scenario-focused with a specific regional emphasis."
While the documents do not name which region of the world the Pentagon wants to focus on, the solicitation does mention an adversary of a peer-state being invaded with little warning, strongly suggesting that the Pentagon is developing AMASS due to concerns over a potential Chinese invasion of Taiwan.
According to documents regarding the AMASS program obtained by The Debrief, the program will focus on creating the ability to "dynamically command and control unmanned, autonomous swarms of various types … for theater-level counter-anti-access / area denial capabilities."
The goal is for a system to be developed that can control thousands or possibly tens of thousands of drones at the same time. These drones would be equipped with a variety of tools, ranging from anti-communications equipment that can jam enemy radar systems to weapons like specially designed firearms and explosives to carry out lethal attacks.
The drones would be working together to destroy enemy defenses, including air defenses, indirect and precision weapons platforms, as well as intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms.
"The current vision is that low-cost swarms with diverse sensors and kinetic and non-kinetic effectors would primarily be pre-positioned forward and launched remotely, providing rapid response and adaptability to overcome the adversary's time-distance-mass advantage," the AMASS documents stated.
The AMASS program is expected to include swarms of different kinds of autonomous vehicles. This includes not just unmanned aerial vehicles, but also unmanned ground vehicles for land operations and unmanned surface vehicles for sea actions. A DARPA official even indicated that the AMASS program is considering involving unmanned underwater vehicles, provided that the Pentagon can cut costs.
"We are not developing new autonomous platforms under the program; we are leveraging existing, small, low-cost platforms," said a DARPA spokesperson."
Learn more about drone technology at DroneWatchNews.com.
Watch this clip discussing how a U.S. Army drone swarm would be considered a weapon of mass destruction.