Military Review

Robots are attacking with a swarm

Rapid development of unmanned aviation systems (UAS), on the one hand, and information systems, on the other, inevitably led to the fact that military specialists of the advanced countries of the world came to the conclusion that it was expedient and practical to combine achievements in these areas within a single system. Naturally, for military purposes.

What is at stake here is the creation of an autonomous unmanned aircraft system (quite possibly a combat one), which, unlike the traditional and widely used unmanned aerial systems of various types and purposes in the world today, will be a UAS for military use, having elements of artificial intelligence and capable of self-development and self-development, and as a result - able to make independent decisions regarding their further actions in accordance with a specific tactical or operational proliferative and tactical situation in its operating area.


In the military departments of a number of countries in the world, the development of such systems, apparently, is already underway, otherwise why, for example, then develop the appropriate conceptual apparatus? In particular, in the next edition approved by the UK Department of Defense in August on the use of unmanned aircraft systems in the framework of the joint action doctrine prepared by the specialists of the Development Center, concepts and doctrines (Joint Doctrine Publication 2017-0. Unmanned Aircraft Systems. Development, Concepts and Doctrine Center. 30.2), an autonomous system in terms of its use in military (dual) unmanned aircraft technology, is described as follows:

“The autonomous system is able to understand the intentions and indications of a high level. As a result of this, and also taking into account how it (the autonomous system) perceives the environment (that is, depending on its current worldview. - V.Sh.), such a system is able to take appropriate actions in order to achieve the desired result. Based on the analysis of alternatives, it is able to make decisions on the direction in which it is necessary to act without requiring control and management by a person who, incidentally, can still carry it out. At the same time, if, in general, the activity of autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles is predictable, then individual actions may be unpredictable. ”

By and large, the definition given in the official governing document of the British Ministry of Defense is the best and most vivid confirmation of the correctness of the words about the enormous danger to humanity of artificial intelligence, expressed not so long ago by Ilon Mask. In other words, in general, we can control this kind of autonomous systems, but because of the fact that once something comes into her head, all 100% are not insured. In the author’s opinion, after such definitions, given to autonomous systems by the military themselves, there can be no talk of introducing them into military affairs, at least at this stage. In no case.

Representatives of the military-political leadership of various countries around the world probably understand this, since, so far as is known, no such fully autonomous unmanned aircraft or other system (land, sea, etc.) has been adopted.

However, separate programs providing for the creation of autonomous unmanned aircraft systems, even if in their most primitive version, are already being implemented. In particular, it is possible to refer to such a program that has been implemented for several years already in 2012 and was not a particularly public Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO). Judging by the information published in open sources, this program has the main goal of creating an efficient swarm of mini-UAVs (for the time being, probably for reconnaissance purposes) for their use as part of various combat aircraft complexes (combat aircraft) that are currently or planned to enter US Armed Forces.


The idea of ​​a swarm of UAVs that can carry out a group flight and exchange with each other and a control point for various information was proposed in 2011 by a group of students from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Aviation and Cosmonautics Department (MIT, also often referred to as Massachusetts University of Technology). The idea found a lively response from the military, so in 2013, at the request of the Office of Strategic Opportunities, students refined it for military use. All work, of course, was carried out under the supervision of Pentagon specialists.

The Perdix mini-UAV, which was also developed at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, but already at the Lincoln Laboratory, was chosen as the base model of the drone, the work of which is being carried out by the US military. This drone weighs only 290 g, has a length of 165 mm, and its wing span is only 300 mm. A miniature scout, a number of structural elements of which is simply printed on an 3D printer, can reach a maximum speed of up to 113 km / h and continuously be in the air, solving its tasks, up to 20 minutes.

“Perdix UAVs are not single objects whose actions are synchronized within the framework of preliminary programming. This is a collective organism that has a single brain, divided between them (unmanned aerial vehicles - V.Sh.) and allows you to make decisions and adapt to each other, as happens in a natural swarm, - says William Roper, director of the Office of Strategic Opportunities, US Department of Defense. . - And since each Perdix keeps in touch and interacts with each of the other Perdixes, the swarm does not have any one particular leader and is able to adapt easily when new drones are attached to it, or when they leave it. ".

Work on this program is carried out by the US military in the strictest confidence, so today only general information about the three tests conducted within its framework has been made public. And the first of them, held back in September 2014, in the area of ​​Edwards Air Base (California), became known only in March 2016. The Pentagon then declassified a short video showing how the F-16 tactical fighter, which seems to belong to the Test School of the US Air Force test pilot, dropped a cargo container that descends by parachute, attracted to the testing of an unmanned swarm. up to a given height, and then a whole bunch of mini-drones opens and scatters. In another video, which was put at the disposal of journalists of the Washington Post newspaper, they said that it was clear how the mini-UAVs already freed from the depths of the cargo container are flying in groups of at least 690 units. The second test was already conducted in Alaska in September 20 of the year: a swarm of 2015 mini-UAVs were tested for performance in a marine environment.

However, the last, third test, which was conducted by the Americans in October 2016 of the year, is of the greatest interest to us, but only 9 of January 2017 of the year became known about it. But with what pomp this event was filed, only one show in the “60 minutes” program of CBS channel is worth something!

This test was carried out jointly by specialists of the Strategic Opportunities Department of the US Department of Defense and the US Navy Command Systems Aviation Command at the test site of the latest airbase in China Lake, Kalifonia, and aimed to refine the actions of the “Big Swarm” of the 103 Perdix mini-drones. This time, according to the test plan, three F / A-18 Super Hornet fired drones into the air from containers to shoot rounds with heat traps and dipole reflectors, after which the drones made contact with each other and made a group flight.

Representatives of the Pentagon reported that, as part of the tests conducted to date, it was possible to confirm the high reliability of an “fully commercial development” unmanned aerial vehicle, as well as to prove its ability to withstand considerable operational loads, including: flight speed - up to M = 0,6, low ambient temperature, strong shock and other loads at the time of release in the air from the container suspended on the plane.

The latter is ensured, among other things, by the fact that each mini-BLAH is discharged from the container, being “equipped” into a strong mini-capsule, and only moving away to a safe distance from the carrier aircraft that “exposed” it, this capsule is reset. After this, the propulsion system of the mini-drone is launched, its systems are brought to the working position, and the control system quickly establishes communication and data exchange with other mini UAVs, which are currently forming a swarm.


Currently, the Office of Strategic Opportunities, as reported in the American media, is evaluating various enterprises for the possibility of their involvement in the mass production of Perdix-type mini-drones. It is planned that such drones, capable of conducting reconnaissance and surveillance at relatively low altitudes, will be produced in factories in batches of 1000 units.

The origin of such an unusual name for a mini drone is interesting. The latter was named in honor of one of the heroes of ancient Greek mythology - Perdix, who is also known as Perdik and Talos. He was the nephew of Daedalus and his pupil, and the word Perdik translated from ancient Greek means “Partridge”. So, the fate of the mythological hero, who was very talented and even, in mythology, invented a saw, compass, potter's wheel and a lathe, was unenviable. Daedalus, as it is believed, out of envy of his pupil, who could surpass him in talents, simply dropped him from the Athenian Acropolis and fled from the city. Is it interesting that the Americans have prepared the same fate for their unmanned offspring, this “mini-partridge”, or have they not studied the ancient Greek mythology very well?
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  1. cedar
    cedar 25 November 2017 15: 17
    Military technological progress cannot be stopped. So in one form or another described by the author in the article is waiting for us in the near future. BUT this will be a very uncomfortable future in peacetime and deadly in wartime, and most likely the boundary between peace and war will be completely erased. A crazy house for those who do not want to adapt and their own for adaptants, but you will not envy them ...
    1. SRC P-15
      SRC P-15 25 November 2017 15: 22
      A miniature scout, a number of structural elements of which is simply printed on an 3D printer, can reach a maximum speed of up to 113 km / h and continuously be in the air, solving its tasks, up to 20 minutes.

      Well, how far will this swarm fly away in 20 minutes? So it should be dropped near the enemy, and who will give it?
      1. Smog
        Smog 25 November 2017 16: 10
        Quote: СРЦ П-15
        how far will this swarm fly in 20 minutes?

        37 km, a little more with the best deals.
        1. Shurik70
          Shurik70 25 November 2017 17: 25
          The value of the swarm is not in range, but in indestructibility at a critical moment, and in the cheapness of individual elements.
          Well, delivery - they will work out delivery. For example, there are already drones delivered to the site by artillery shells. With a swarm, it will be possible to deliver a dozen UAVs to the projectile. Five shells, fired in a few seconds by one gun (and suitable for the target at the same time) - this is already fifty UAVs, it turns out. And if in several trunks in one gulp?
          Or delivery by transport rocket. Or a heavy UAV aircraft. Yes, you never know how.
          I’m thinking about how much a rare nylon mesh with a cell in decimeter and the size of a kilometer per kilometer will cost. Neither optics, nor radars are cut off, and such a swarm will stop just once. And you can hang it on balloons.
          1. Smog
            Smog 25 November 2017 17: 38
            Quote: Shurik70
            The value of the swarm is not in range, but in indestructibility at a critical moment,

            But I thought about the weather. Snow, rain, blizzard, fog. Will they fly or not? And if the frost degrees like that under 25- 30? This is Russia, and we live here.
            I do not want to say anything against, but somehow they are silent about these factors.
            1. Normal ok
              Normal ok 25 November 2017 21: 48
              Quote: Smog
              But I thought about the weather. Snow, rain, blizzard, fog. Will they fly or not? And if the frost degrees like that under 25- 30? This is Russia, and we live here.

              The article wrote about the tests in Alaska. The weather there is abrupt than in the European part of Russia.
          2. Yarhann
            Yarhann 25 November 2017 20: 55
            but what is the meaning of a swarm of small drones. if the coordinates of the target are known, then it is a priori destroyed - the means of delivery of explosives at any distance are now enough. for 10-20 km it is an artillery or MLRS, further large-caliber MLRS or planning bombs, etc., and for long distances over 100 km - KR and BR. All these weapons can easily be made correctable from the same reconnaissance UAV. The dimensions of a reconnaissance UAV determine its range of operation and no more - but of course there is a minimum size because optoelectronic reconnaissance equipment is also rather big.
            That is, the same modern strike UAVs are complete shit - apart from their use in the deep rear for the cutting of specific people (that is, operations of special services).
            There are already enough modern robotic weapons in the world - any modern ship, and even not very modern when protected from air attack means, can operate in a fully robotic mode - select the targets and distribute them between interceptors. The missiles themselves, which also have robots with GOS and on-board computers, are themselves looking for a target in a given area, they themselves select a target, they themselves attack it. RCC, anti-aircraft missiles, the same modern torpedoes. The trouble with all these robots is that, if handled ineptly, they can attack a friendly target.
            For example, making miniature flying drones with a thermal matrix that will attack people with a thermal signature is also not a question, and now it is relatively inexpensive, and it was possible to make such a weapon 10 and 20 years ago - a question of price.
            Well, and about these miniature drones scouts - what they will scout and when. If we talk about inexpensive and miniature, then night disappears immediately and the conditions of poor visibility disappear because there will not be a normal optoelectronic intelligence complex on board. Then this drone flew in and started somewhere to scout something and send the info to the data center - who will handle a large pile of relatively worthless intelligence is naturally not a person - that is, the software will look for some form.
            The question is why the heck it’s necessary to process a lot of bad drones, which the machine will still be able to process - if it is possible to qualitatively prepare the info using a normal full-size drone with normal information recording equipment.
            That is, in modern realities, reconnaissance is the most important weapon - the means of delivery of explosives are enough and enough with the head - and they are fast and powerful - unlike the meager that the drone can carry - not to mention its speed and other shortcomings.
        2. SRC P-15
          SRC P-15 25 November 2017 17: 58
          Quote: Smog
          37 km, a little more with the best deals.

          This is one way, and they still need to return - it means no further than 20 km. Or these drones will be like consumables - i.e. disposable? And to combat them there are electronic warfare. Anyway, there is an antidote to them right after these swarms start to create a problem.
          1. Smog
            Smog 25 November 2017 19: 28
            Quote: СРЦ П-15
            there is an antidote to them right away

            You can crush it. laughing
            1. SRC P-15
              SRC P-15 25 November 2017 19: 32
              Quote: Smog
              You can crush it.

              Bekasinnik will just go: it has more in the cartridge than for example buckshot. laughing hi
              1. Smog
                Smog 25 November 2017 19: 35
                Quote: СРЦ П-15
                Bekasinnik, just going

                good soldier
      2. A. Privalov
        A. Privalov 25 November 2017 19: 08
        Quote: SRC P-15
        A miniature scout, a number of structural elements of which is simply printed on an 3D printer, can reach a maximum speed of up to 113 km / h and continuously be in the air, solving its tasks, up to 20 minutes.

        Well, how far will this swarm fly away in 20 minutes? So it should be dropped near the enemy, and who will give it?

        Everything is very simple. Take, for example, the 720-th point of the logistics of the Russian Navy - a place of constant presence of Russian naval vessels in the Mediterranean, located in the city of Tartus:

        Let's say a container ship passes by it and drags 10 000 containers on itself. One container "accidentally" opens and 5 thousand such babies fly out of it. Mission accomplished.
        Or, in another version - 2500 ordinary toy quadrocopters and each of them pulls a lightweight passive radar reflector made of metallized plastic on a string. Now, theoretically, imagine what they see on their screen the guys serving the C-400 complex covering Tartous. belay
        1. SRC P-15
          SRC P-15 25 November 2017 19: 24
          Quote: A. Privalov
          Or, in another version - 2500 ordinary toy quadrocopters and each drags a lightweight passive radar reflector made of metallized plastic on a rope. Now, theoretically imagine what the children on the screen serving the S-400 complex covering Tartus see on their screen.

          I know very well what is visible on the IRF when an adversary uses passive interference (and your reflectors on ropes are nothing more than passive interference). A part of the locator screen is highlighted. We used to find the enemy’s plane by this light: we simply “detuned from the interference” and the plane was visible as a mark on the screen. Earlier, in our country, metallized tapes and thin metal tapes were used for jamming, let's call them this: needles. They were dropped from the plane and carried by the wind. So your idea with a reflector on a rope is not new, only whether there will be any sense from it is another question.
          And about the container ship: imagine that there is a container ship and one container "accidentally" opens and the "Gauges" fly out of it. Mission accomplished! bully
          1. Yarhann
            Yarhann 25 November 2017 21: 03
            The fact of the matter is that military weapons guarantee the defeat of the target - because if you need to destroy the target, they will choose a container with Caliber. And if they want to carry out a terrorist attack, then a container with drones. All these tales of flocks of drones are nothing more than a tool for terrorism.
            The whole point of using drones is the transfer of authority to search for and select targets on board the car and then make decisions on the attack. As a result, we come to the conclusion that on board such a drone there should be a spectrum of reconnaissance equipment (a bunch of different GOS sensors and so on), as well as a computer. As a result, we get the same missiles with GOS.
        2. Smog
          Smog 25 November 2017 19: 34
          Quote: A. Privalov
          Imagine what they see on their screen the guys serving the S-400 complex covering Tartus

          Well, the guys sitting in front of the monitor are really stupid. There was nothing, and - all of a sudden, suddenly a 20 km goal appeared. Stealth, probably. But what will the latter see, theoretically, on this very ship - a container ship?
        3. TOR2
          TOR2 25 November 2017 23: 34
          Quote: A. Privalov
          Now, theoretically imagine what the children on the screen serving the S-400 complex covering Tartus see on their screen.

          Target designation will be transmitted to the complex "Zas * Satchel", after which the sector will be exposed to radiation in the shita mode. With "Perdiks" will happen approximately the same as with the cell phones in this video.

          If you later shine on a boat in sword mode, the number of jokers will decrease. And to prove something is very problematic.
        4. andrewkor
          andrewkor 26 November 2017 10: 19
          And you are glad to have a sucker ... b! If only Russia got stupid, no matter how and where!
        5. igorka357
          igorka357 27 November 2017 06: 01
          What kind of nonsense with a container ship, how is a declaration of war possible, but in wartime, what a stupid person would let a container ship go to the Navy?
  2. Mikhail3
    Mikhail3 25 November 2017 15: 44
    Pr-rr-rattle! Alas, the Americans also come across literate, so far, although it would seem ... The "conceptual apparatus" has been developed for a long time. The person who invented all this, and then a lot of sadness. He thought that he was showing the most obvious things in his book, but so far the world has been stupidly thinking nothing ... "I need all the power," yeah.
    So I hoped to quietly quack with my death before the stupid and infinitely oblique-eyed descendants start the competition predicted by Lem ...
  3. Greenwood
    Greenwood 25 November 2017 15: 46
    Video topic:
    1. TOR2
      TOR2 25 November 2017 22: 43
      Very entertaining. I just want to say: “now put your aunt“ letter T ”with red LEDs on and go through the flock without her.
    2. region58
      region58 25 November 2017 23: 25
      Quote: Greenwood
      Video topic:

      1. region58
        region58 25 November 2017 23: 42
        And this is the military experimenting:
    3. mirag2
      mirag2 25 November 2017 23: 52
      The same thing. A terrible topic:
  4. Fedorov
    Fedorov 25 November 2017 17: 22
    It will be a military-designed UAS, with elements of artificial intelligence and capable of self-learning and self-development, and as a result, capable of making independent decisions regarding its further actions in accordance with the specific tactical or operational-tactical situation in its operational area.

    Yes, what kind of artificial intelligence is there, at this stage of the development of microelectronics, all the same, all according to ALGORITHMS. The condition is “YES”, “NO”, “I don’t know,” and then again, again the condition ... until there is enough memory to choose from the match .. Another thing is how the algorithm itself is built and what are the conditions - that’s the whole trick.
  5. groks
    groks 25 November 2017 17: 56
    Well, maybe we’re not digging. If you transfer the completely new Su-27 to the remote, and in case of failure - to the software control, while ensuring resistance to high loads, it will pass any air defense. Stealth, the highest capabilities of the radar, etc. will be completely on the drum, because it will maneuver beyond the capabilities of missiles. It turns out that he will have to be attacked either by several dozen classic missiles fired just into that steppe (s), in the hope that some of them will pass near the plane, or by a small atomic charge.
  6. Mavrikiy
    Mavrikiy 25 November 2017 18: 08
    Robots are attacking with a swarm
    It was. I read about the flight of large flocks of birds and the orientation of one bird in this mass of objects where there are no collisions. It seems that the problems are being resolved. Horror. "Alien mind"
  7. Xaron-a
    Xaron-a 25 November 2017 18: 22
    Perdixes are chosen as an experimental model for testing technologies. And ultimately, it will be a swarm of highly maneuverable aircraft capable of breaking through any air defense and reaching strategic goals. Just for the implementation of the concept of global non-nuclear strike.
    The absence of man and his life support systems will significantly increase the capabilities of aviation, and even more so in the case of a swarm.
    In general, we are fast moving to the future drawn by science fiction writers.
    1. Mikhail3
      Mikhail3 25 November 2017 18: 42
      While they will be able to "break through any air defense", you can sleep peacefully, all this is nothing more than scratches on the face of Satan. That's when they take the next step ...
    2. Lopatov
      Lopatov 25 November 2017 18: 46
      Quote: Xaron-A
      able to break through any air defense

      Not at all "any"
      The science fiction writer, who first described the "swarm", himself pointed out methods of dealing with him. Disconnection.
      Well, the devices designed for the "global non-nuclear" by default will be all great, and therefore vulnerable. "Swarm" is not a perpetual motion machine, it cannot take energy out of nowhere.
  8. Settlement Oparyshev
    Settlement Oparyshev 25 November 2017 18: 39
    Our air defense, led by the Commander-in-Chief, is shocked by such a topic. How to disperse such a crowd of drones during raids, and how to determine these raids.
    Apparently only a powerful impulse will be able to "plant" flocks of "bees." As this pulse does not burn.
    All will be extinguished, both their own and those of others. Once again, only a magic Kalash will remain in hand.
    1. Petrix
      Petrix 27 November 2017 14: 24
      Quote: p-k Oparyshev
      Our air defense, led by the Commander in Chief, is shocked by such a topic.

      And what are the dangers of the swarm? How far can reconnaissance information transmit? You can’t get far with micro-antennas. Radar flare? So for this you need a swarm of medium- and large-sized UAVs. And it will cost a pretty penny.
  9. A. Privalov
    A. Privalov 25 November 2017 18: 45
    This is how this baby looks like with such an unpleasant for the ear, which is familiar to the Russian language, - Perdix:
    1. max702
      max702 25 November 2017 21: 35
      Quote: A. Privalov
      This is how this baby looks like with such an unpleasant for the ear, which is familiar to the Russian language, - Perdix:

      Yeah .. "What do you call a yacht ..."
  10. Manul
    Manul 25 November 2017 19: 07
    Who has not read - I highly recommend a couple of interesting books on the topic of swarm. Stanislav Lem - “Invincible”, and Nick Perumov “Skull on the sleeve”, “Skull in the sky. Perumov is certainly simpler than Lem, but readable enough fascinating. Well,“ Invincible ”crashed into my boyish consciousness tightly for life.
    1. Ural resident
      Ural resident 25 November 2017 20: 59
      ahead - the same in my memory surfaced
  11. Nyrobsky
    Nyrobsky 25 November 2017 21: 59
    For any "swarm" there is its own "Dichlorvos".
  12. Elena Zakharova
    Elena Zakharova 27 November 2017 20: 02
    Quote: СРЦ П-15
    Well and how far will this swarm fly in 20 minutes?

    They were able to solve the main problem, drones see each other, follow the follower, can change it independently, etc.
    And the question of speed, range, and time is already engineering.