The Pentagon has now revealed that it experimented with Micro-drones that can be launched from the flare dispensers of moving F-16s and F/A-18 fighter jets.
This was revealed in an unclassified video which the department of defense released to the press that showed micro drones being released from an F-16 fighter jet moving at 430 mph (692km/h).
“Canisters containing the tiny aircraft descended from the jets on parachutes before breaking open, allowing wings on each drone to swing out and catch the wind and Inch-wide propellers on the back provided propulsion as they found one another and created a swarm,” a major news organization wrote in an article about the drone reveal.
The drone experiment was said to have been done by the secretive Strategic Capabilities Office, which was launched in 2012 to deal with growing threats from China and Russia.
While the specifics of what the mini-drones can do are classified, it remains clear that they can be used to confuse enemy forces and carry out surveillance missions using equipment that costs much less than full-sized unmanned aircraft.
The tiny drones, which only weigh about a pound each can move in packs and gain situational awareness.
Last month, U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter disclosed the existence of some of the office’s projects while previewing his proposed 2017 budget. He also called for $902 million in funding for SCO in 2017 which is nearly twice the amount it received in 2016.
The information he disclosed while previewing his 2017 budget raised some questions in the Pentagon about whether he had revealed classified information.
“I have been in the classified, black world for my whole career, so all of this is new for me and I really wish I could go back, You can’t win wars if everything is outside the doors, but you can’t deter wars if everything is behind them.” director of SCO William Roper told a media organisation. He also displayed the new micro unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which are fired from moving fighter jets through flare dispensers to photographers.
The drone testing program is named after Perdix, a character in Greek mythology who was changed into a partridge by the god Athena. The mini-drones were tested over Alaska last year as part of the military exercise Northern Edge, which focuses on training for crises in the Pacific.
Another important aspect to note is that the drones are created by using 3D printing, the technology that has taken the world by storm recently. 3D printing is a process for making a physical object from a three-dimensional digital model, typically by laying down many successive thin layers of a material.
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