New Pentagon plan calls for UAV swarms to counter China, but is that enough?

September 21, 2023  - By
Image: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Devin M. Langer

Image: Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Devin M. Langer

The U.S. Department of Defense has called for thousands of UAVs to be built as a part of its Replicator initiative that aims to hasten military innovation to “leverage platforms that are small, smart, cheap and many,” said Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks in a recent speech. This was cited in a Wall Street Journal editorial published on Sept. 13.

The United States plans to build thousands of UAVs over a 24-month period to counter China and the current military threat against U.S. forces in the Pacific Ocean. The UAV swarms could help the United States jam or distract enemy radars and surface-to-air missiles to stop China from pushing U.S. forces out of the Pacific.

The Wall Street Journal article stated that this idea by the Pentagon is not a real substitute for a bigger navy. While the Pentagon’s idea of UAV swarms for reconnaissance in the Pacific is technologically innovative, the article stated that the United States will still need technology breakthroughs and plentiful stocks of materials ranging from aircraft to munitions.

Furthermore, Deputy Hicks said that the Replicator initiative is not asking for new money in the next fiscal year budget, citing “not all problems need new money; we are problem-solvers, and we intend to self-solve,” reported the Wall Street Journal.

A new swarm of UAVs will give significant support to the U.S. military to counter China. However, the Pentagon’s quick plan for an unmanned technological “revolution” will need more investment to compensate for the failures that will inevitably accompany the new technology, the editorial argued, and to build “two Virginia-class submarines a year and fielding thousands of long-range weapons so U.S. forces don’t run out of their best firepower after a week in the Taiwan Strait.”.

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About the Author: Maddie Saines

Maddie was a managing editor at GPS World.