The nation was in awe when 1,000 swarm drones performed a breathtaking display during the Beating Retreat Ceremony in New Delhi on January 29, 2022. Botlab Dynamics produced the programme domestically as part of the Make in India initiative. India became the fourth country to accomplish this achievement with a display of 1,000 locally made swarm drones, giving it a significant foundation in the drone technology industry. We, Russia, and China have also performed swarm drone shows.
What are Swarm Drones, and How do they work?
To achieve their assigned goal or other specific missions, such as targeted strikes or supporting tactical operations, swarm drones are uncrewed aerial vehicles (UAVs) flown in large clusters (or many clusters) in contested, hostile, or hostile airspace. These drones cooperate and are either remote-controlled or driven by onboard processors independently. They could be used effectively for various tasks, including disguising assets on enemy radar, locating enemy radar sites, destroying enemy air defences, and performing simultaneous Suppression/Destruction of Enemy Air Defences (SEAD/DEAD) roles.
A swarm of drones can execute various objectives, including attacks on tanks, infantry fighting vehicles, ammo storage facilities, fuel depots, and terror launch pads.
The speed of life in this era is relatively rapid. Several well-known swarm technologies exist today, including:
- The French Icarus project
- The Russian Lightning
- The Spanish RAPAZ
- The UK’s Blue Bearswarm
- The UAE/South African N-Raven
- Israel is working on numerous projects, such as Sky Striker. The Israel Defence Forces used a drone swarm in warfare for the first time in May 2021 while battling Hamas.
- The Army, Air Force, Navy, and DARPA are exploring different swarm initiatives, with several services working on numerous projects, while the Marine Corps is making headway with kamikaze drone swarms.
- China has several swarm programmes.
Swarm Drones: China and India
Chinese swarm drone technology has already advanced quickly. The nation published a video depicting a truck-mounted system firing a volley of swarms in 2021. It was the first time a system of this size had ever been used in actual practice anyplace in the globe. The test proved that the entire procedure, including the quick deployment of vehicles, intensive launching, hovering and launching in the air, exact formation, formation change, ground inspection and attack, and precision strike, was capable.
Regarding India, the Indian Army showcased its drone capabilities on January 15 with the 73rd Army Day, including Kamikaze attacks and strikes using a mothership. In this first-ever demonstration, 75 drones were released from different heights, including smaller quadcopters and larger hexacopters. 13 targets were hit throughout the show, including mock mortar positions, artificial army concentrations, fuel dumps, radar sites, terrorist hideouts, and helipads. The drones were coordinated using area correlation technologies and satellite feeds. With high-impact warheads, these completely autonomous drones can launch missions targeting pre-specified hostile assets up to 50 km inside enemy territory. In a self-destructive attack, drones can hit objects at a distance of 100 miles. The drones were produced in association with a start-up with headquarters in Bengaluru. The skills they brought to the service were much more than what they demonstrated.
However, it will take time for the new technology to be correctly assimilated and to develop local strategies. Although several drones are currently used for border monitoring and anti-terrorist operations, the drones on show during the Army Day ceremony were highly advanced, autonomous, and armed UAVs.
In November 2021, the Defence Research and Development Organisation (DRDO) demonstrated a homegrown capability to carry out offensive missions in enemy territory with swarms of drones working in different formations to identify, encircle, and strike targets. The loitering munitions were developed to meet crucial military requirements and keep soldiers safe. The capability display took place on the first day of a three-day defence event in Jhansi related to the ongoing nationwide celebrations of the nation’s 75th anniversary of independence.
Swarm Drones – Future Military Applications
There are numerous potential military uses for a drone swarm, even if drone technology has largely moved away from human-crewed operations for commercial use. They can conduct reconnaissance missions, surveillance, or target hostile personnel or facilities. A drone swarm might also deter an armed conflict by scanning an area for covert weaponry to build barriers or bar entry to specific locations. A group of networked drones might perform better than separately managed drones in several situations.
One of the most revolutionary inventions of the modern period is still drones. Drone technology is still developing and demonstrating its value in many fields. This technology is expected to remain at the forefront for the foreseeable future thanks to advances in battery performance, better sensors, payloads with extended capabilities, and more perceptive artificial intelligence. But what significant development in UAV technology will come next? Many think that drone swarm technology is the subsequent considerable development for drones. Military leaders worldwide are already interested in technology, and business interest is rising. Swarms are being observed by the advertising and entertainment industries as well. One outstanding example is the record-breaking 3,281 drone display Genesis used to introduce itself to China on April 5, 2021.