Drone Warfare in the Nuclear Age

Yves here. The hubris, it burns. While Michael Klare does show some skepticism regarding the Pentagon’s ability to develop and deploy its next generation of wunderwaffen, readers who have been watching the Ukraine conflict and our China eye-poking are likely to find it not skeptical enough. Klare repeats the official trope that China is planning an invasion of China (when even if it really were to feel pressed, a blockade would do, or even stringent sanctions given Taiwan’s economic and food dependence on China, although sanctions would take longer to bite). He does not stress the degree to which the US loses in its own war games with China. He also repeats uncritically the patter that Russia is behind the US in drones, when experts say the reverse, that the Russia is the leader in drone warfare, and Ukraine is now #2. Russia is now producing so many drones that it is using them to hunt down infantry.

Perhaps readers can have fun citing other overstatements of US prowess.

By Michael Klare. Originally published at TomDispatch

A war with China may not be inevitable, Deputy Secretary of Defense Kathleen Hicks observed recently, but it’s a genuine possibility and so this country must be prepared to fight and win. But victory in such a conflict will not, she suggested, come easily. China enjoys an advantage in certain measures of military power, including the number of ships, guns, and missiles it can deploy. While America’s equivalents may be more advanced and capable, they also cost far more to produce and so can only be procured in smaller numbers. To overcome such a dilemma in any future conflict, Hicks suggested, our costly crewed weapons systems must be accompanied by hordes of uncrewed autonomous ships, planes, and tanks.

To ensure that America will possess sufficient numbers of “all-domain attritable [that is, expendable] autonomous” weapons when a war with China breaks out, Hicks announced a major new Pentagon program dubbed the Replicator Initiative. “Replicator is meant to help us overcome [China’s] biggest advantage, which is mass. More ships. More missiles. More people,” she told the National Defense Industrial Association as August ended.

Because we can’t match our adversaries “ship-for-ship and shot-for-shot,” given the prohibitive costs of traditional weapons systems (which must include space for their human crews), we’ll overpower them instead with swarms of autonomous weapons — unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs and UASs), unmanned ground vehicles (UGVs), unmanned surface vessels (USVs), and unmanned subsea vessels (UUVs, or drone submarines), all governed by artificial intelligence (AI) and capable of independent action.

“We’ll counter the [Chinese military’s] mass with mass of our own,” she declared, “but ours will be harder to plan for, harder to hit, harder to beat.”

Needless to say, Hicks’ announcement of the Replicator Initiative has raised many questions in the military-industrial-congressional complex and elsewhere about this country’s ability to produce such a vast array of technologically-advanced weaponry in a short period of time. The U.S. military does, of course, already possess an array of remotely piloted drones like the infamous Predator and Reaper aircraft used in this country’s Global War on Terror to hunt and kill enemy militants (and often nearby villagers as well). Those are not, however, capable of operating autonomously in swarms, as envisioned by Hicks. Even if Congress were to vote the needed hundreds of billions of dollars to develop such weapons — and, at the moment, there’s no certainty of that — and even if the Pentagon could overcome its own bureaucratic inertia in passing such funds on to defense contractors, will those companies be capable of developing the necessary advanced software and hardware anytime soon? Who knows?

After all, the Department of Defense has already awarded many millions of dollars to assorted AI start-ups and traditional contractors over the past half-dozen years to develop advanced UAVs, UGVs, USVs, and UUVs, and yet not a single one is in full-scale production. The Navy, for example, first began funding the development and construction of a prototype Extra-Large Unmanned Undersea Vessel (XLUUV) in 2019. But as of today, no finished submarine has yet been delivered, and none are expected to be combat-ready for years. Other major autonomous weapons projects like the Air Force’s “loyal wingman” drone, intended to accompany fighter planes on high-risk missions over enemy territory, seem to be on a similar track.

Still, questions about this country’s ability to deliver such systems on the tight timetable Hicks announced should be the least of our concerns. Far more worrisome is the likelihood that such a drive will ignite a major new global arms race with China and Russia, ensuring that future battlefields will be populated with untold thousands (tens of thousands?) of drone weapons, overwhelming human commanders and increasing the risk of nuclear war.

The Illusion of U.S. Drone Dominance

In making the case for the Replicator Initiative, Hicks touted America’s advantage in technological creativity and know-how. “We out-match adversaries by out-thinking, out-strategizing, and out-maneuvering them,” she insisted. “We augment manufacturing and mobilization with our real comparative advantage, which is the innovation and spirit of our people.”

From her perspective, China, Russia, and this country’s other adversaries are more reliant on traditional forms of military mass (“more ships, more missiles, more people”) because they lack the natural birthright of all Americans, that “innovative spirit.” As she asserted, “We don’t use our people as cannon fodder like some competitors do,” we win by “out-thinking” them.

Putting aside the ethno-nationalism, even racism, in those remarks (bringing up centuries-old Western claims that Asians and Slavs are intellectually inferior and so more submissive to czars and emperors), such an outlook is still dangerously flawed and inaccurate. China and Russia have no lack of smart, creative scientists and engineers and, far from trailing the United States in the development of autonomous weaponry, have actually taken the lead in certain areas.

You need look no further than the Pentagon’s own publications to learn about China’s advances in autonomous weapons systems. In the 2022 edition of its annual report on “Military and Security Developments Involving the People’s Republic of China [PRC],” it affirmed that China is continuing with its “comprehensive UAS [unmanned aerial system, another term for UAVs] modernization efforts, highlighted by the routine appearance of ever more sophisticated UASs across theater and echelon levels.”

That report also indicated that China is making rapid advances in the development of AI software for use by autonomous weapons systems in complex combat operations of exactly the sort envisioned by Deputy Secretary Hicks:

“In addition to maturing their current capabilities, China is also signaling its efforts in next generation capabilities… In these concepts, PRC developers are demonstrating an interest in additional growth beyond [intelligence and electronic warfare missions] into both air-to-air and air-to-ground combat, with a substantial amount of development displaying efforts to produce swarming capability for operational applications.”

The Department of Defense seldom reveals its sources for such assertions, making it difficult for outside analysts to assess their validity. As a result, it’s hard to know how far ahead (or behind) the Chinese actually are when it comes to the critical AI software needed to manage such complex drone operations. However, many Western analysts do believe that China leads in certain areas of AI and autonomy. Its military has, in fact, regularly flown advanced UAVs in large-scale combat maneuvers around the island of Taiwan, demonstrating a capacity to employ such systems in complex operations.

Russia is thought to lag behind China and the U.S. in developing and fielding advanced autonomous weapons but has nevertheless demonstrated a significant capacity to use UAVs in its war on Ukraine. It has deployed large swarms of semi-autonomous Iranian-made Shahed-136 suicide drones in attacks on its cities and electrical systems, causing widespread death and destruction. In August, the New York Times reported that Russia was producing and flying a homemade version of the Shahed-136, dubbed the Geran-2 (as in Geranium-2). The Russians have also used the Orlan-10 reconnaissance drone to identify Ukrainian military positions for future attacks by artillery and rockets.

Recognizing the important role played by UAVs of all types in its present war, Russia’s leaders have initiated a crash program to vastly multiply its production of such devices. On June 28th, the government approved a “Development Strategy for Unmanned Aviation Until 2030.” It called for exponential growth in UAV output, which, according to reports, is expected to increase from approximately 13,000 per year between 2023 and 2026 to 26,000 annually from 2027 to 2030 and 35,500 after that.

Of course, many Western analysts believe that Russia is incapable of fulfilling such a plan thanks to Western sanctions and an insufficient number of skilled personnel. Those sanctions have, for instance, dried up supplies of computer chips and other vital components for advanced UAVs. Meanwhile, the Ukraine war’s insatiable manpower requirements and the flight of so many tech-savvy Russians from the country to avoid military service could make scaling up UAV design and production more difficult. Nonetheless, placing a high priority on such weapons, the Russians will undoubtedly seek workaround strategies to increase their production.

On the Future Great-Power Battlefield

Given all of this, it should be evident that going to war with China or Russia in the not-so-distant future on the assumption that the U.S. will enjoy a significant advantage in autonomous weaponry would be delusional — and very dangerous. Yes, both of those potential adversaries currently trail the U.S. in certain categories of autonomous weapons like uncrewed surface and sub-surface combat systems, but they will still be capable of filling the skies with multitudes of drones and seeding any battlefield with hordes of autonomous combat vehicles, including uncrewed tanks and artillery systems.

It would, in fact, be reasonable to assume that any future great-power conflict — a U.S.-China war over Taiwan, for example — will be characterized by the concentration of approximately equal formations of traditional military mass (composed largely of crewed weapons systems) and uncrewed autonomous versions of the same, incorporating multitudes of AI-governed drones.

How would such a conflict play out? It seems unlikely that either side would achieve a swift, one-sided victory. Instead, both would be far more likely to experience massive losses of weapons systems and warriors, with vast swarms of drones only intensifying the destruction by attacking anything left unscathed by traditional weaponry. Many, if not most of those drones would undoubtedly also be destroyed in the process — they are, after all, designed to be “attritable” — but enough would survive to decimate remaining enemy formations.

The toll of such a conflict would surely be colossal. Last year, to get some sense of what might be expected from a war over Taiwan, the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) conducted repeated “tabletop” exercise versions of such a war (using assorted tokens to represent the brigades, fleets, and squadrons of the opposing sides). Each time, they assumed that China had launched an amphibious invasion of Taiwan and that the U.S. and Japan would come to that island’s aid. Each time, the outcome was similar: China was thwarted in its attempt, but the island itself was utterly devastated and the U.S. and Japanese militaries suffered losses of a sort not experienced since World War II.

Under the rules of the exercise, the commanders on both sides (actually, former American military and diplomatic personnel) were prohibited from using nuclear weapons when faced with major setbacks. But was that realistic? Not so, say the authors of a report on a similar exercise conducted by the Center for a New American Security (CNAS), also in 2022. Its version, like the CSIS one, involved an attempted Chinese invasion of Taiwan followed by an all-out American drive to eject the invaders, resulting in a Chinese defeat accompanied by massive losses on both sides. Not constrained, however, by rules banning the use of nuclear weapons, the “red team,” simulating China and growing increasingly desperate, issued nuclear threats of the sort employed by Russian President Vladimir Putin regarding the war in Ukraine. They finally detonated a nuclear explosion off the coast of Hawaii to demonstrate China’s willingness to inflict far greater harm (at which point the game ended).

By then, however, the exercise had demonstrated “how quickly a conflict could escalate, with both China and the United States crossing red lines.” The CNAS report further suggested that, in an actual war, “China may be willing to brandish nuclear weapons or conduct a limited demonstration of its nuclear capability in an effort to prevent or end U.S. involvement in a conflict with Taiwan.” (Nothing was said about the possibility that the Americans could do anything similar.)

Neither of those exercises specifically dealt with the role of autonomous weapons in their imaginary battle scenarios, but they both suggest that any party in such a confrontation would employ every weapon at its disposal in a desperate bid to achieve victory (or avert defeat). The result would likely be ever-spiraling losses and increasingly dangerous escalatory measures. As growing numbers of autonomous weapons become available, they, too, will be thrown into the fight, further magnifying those very escalatory pressures. With swarms of such devices battling other swarms — at sea, in the air, and on the ground — the risk of catastrophic defeat will loom ever larger and the temptation to employ nuclear weapons that much harder to resist. Whatever fantasies of American dominance Deputy Secretary Hicks might be harboring in promoting the Replicator Initiative, a safer, more stable world is not among the likely outcomes.

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    1. Michaelmas

      eg: Autonomous weapon swarms? What could possibly go wrong?

      Early-stage autonomous drones are already deployed by both sides in Ukraine; electronic warfare/jamming made them an inevitable development.

      Talking of drones and nuclear weapons in the same breath, and also of what could go wrong, however ….

      OP: As growing numbers of autonomous weapons become available … swarms of such devices battling other swarms — at sea, in the air, and on the ground — the risk of catastrophic defeat will loom ever larger and the temptation to employ nuclear weapons that much harder to resist.

      … the self-assembling thermonuclear weapon — a drone swarm that self-assembles into a thermonuclear weapon at its target site — is an obvious scenario.

      (Though that would require constructing small components with radiation hardening built in to carry their loads of fissile material so probably still a decade away.)

      1. digi_owl

        I suspect something involving chemical or biological weapons will be viable for delivery that way long before nukes.

        Heck, if you want to do localized devastation there is always the thermobaric option.

        Frankly nukes are most scary, beyond lingering radiation, in that they can be scaled to flatten cities without the need for a large bomber fleet or similar.

        The self assembling drone angle seem like a re-spin on the old “dirty bomb” or “agent with suitcase nuke” story.

        1. Michaelmas

          digi-owl: I suspect something involving chemical or biological weapons will be viable for delivery that way long before nukes.

          To deliver those, you’d use real insect, animal, or plant vectors, as forex DARPA’s ‘Insect Allies’ program, one of the technologies being tested in the US biolab sites in Ukraine (alongside old school hantavirus), does —


          DARPA Enlists Insects to Protect Agricultural Food Supply
          New program aims for insect delivery of protective genes to modify mature plants within a single growing season


          Interestingly, DARPA approached the venture capital partnership, Flagship Pioneering, which was also responsible for Moderna, with the ‘insect allies’ technology, and Flagship has built a company called Invaio Sciences out of it that advertises itself as–


          — “a holistic, mindful approach to today’s pressing food production challenges. Our solutions are designed to help farmers and growers to control crop pests with minimal impact on the environment by: Enabling novel natural bioactives to be precision-delivered to the plant with greater efficiency, reliability and effectiveness; Dramatically reducing the volume of pesticides needed to protect crops….”

          Same technology, though.

          1. digi_owl

            Perhaps, though the WW2 attempt of using bats to deliver incendiaries comes to mind. I think they gave up after a few barracks burned down because the bats took refuge in the rafters.

        2. Michaelmas

          digi-owl: Heck, if you want to do localized devastation there is always the thermobaric option.

          But what’s the point of localized devastation? The reality is, when a group or nation makes war it has one of two possible alternative aims. Either to:

          [A] Change the enemy’s behavior; or….

          [B] Commit genocide and/or ethnic cleansing.

          Most modern conflicts are framed as having the aim of [A] changing the enemy’s behavior, rather than [B] exterminating them. (In historical times, however, the openly-expressed aim of extermination of the enemy was more common; forex, during Rome’s war with Carthage, when Cato the Elder concluded every speech with Carthago Delenda Est.)

          If one just wants localized devastation, as you say, one can always toss a thermobaric weapon — or whatever — at one’s enemy. But what’s the point of localized devastation, when your real aim is to change — control — your enemy’s behavior?

          Another term for controlling your enemy’s behavior is compellence


          “….As distinguished from deterrence theory, which is a strategy aimed at maintaining the status quo (dissuading adversaries from undertaking an action), compellence entails efforts to change the status quo (persuading an opponent to change their behavior). Compellence has been characterized as harder to successfully implement than deterrence….”

          With a self-assembling nuclear weapon infiltrated into Washington, Brussels, London or whatever your enemy’s capital city happens to be, the threat of its use could provide not just nuclear deterrence but nuclear compellence.

          Anyway, it remains a completely science-fictional scenario at this point, AFAIK.

          digi-owl: The self assembling drone angle seem like a re-spin on the old “dirty bomb” or “agent with suitcase nuke” story.

          Conversely, neither of those ‘stories’ are science-fictional scenarios. Dirty bombs are quite possible, and suitcase nukes designs were quite real, though the catch with the latter was that within 2-4 weeks radiation would have destroyed their electronic components once they were armed.

      2. eg

        Yes, that’s the apex risk; I was thinking of the more mundane scenario where local US police forces unleash drone swarms on their own citizens — more in keeping with previous incidents of blowback where military hardware ends up back in the hands of increasingly militarized local police forces.

        1. Michaelmas

          eg: I was thinking of the more mundane scenario where local US police forces unleash drone swarms on their own citizens

          Your point about the empire’s wars invariably coming home is a good one; yes, in the US military hardware sure does end up in the hands of increasingly militarized local police forces.

          BUT in the case of local police forces turning loose drone swarms against local populations, the difficulty there is that local politicians still have to answer to local voters, or at least live in the same vicinity as them.

          So more likely on a local level might be something similar to what happened in places like 1920s-30s Chicago and elsewhere, where ‘Tommy guns’ were first used by the likes of Al Capone’s mob and similar criminal gangs, and only then by the G-men.

          With drones, it would be even easier for criminal gangs once they got hold of some swarm network software. The drone itself is the easy part — even back in 2010-12 people were using standard cellphone chips (with their GPS capabilities, etc.) as the CPUs for homebrew drones.


  1. SocalJimObjects

    There’s a typo. :”Klare repeats the official trope that China is planning an invasion of China“.

    Speaking about overstatements of US prowess, one does not have to go far. Before the pandemic, wasn’t the US rated as the country most prepared to face an infectious disease outbreak? The supposed “innovation and spirit of our people” led to more than one million deaths. Amazing stuff!!!

    Also the Chinese don’t need drones, a couple of weather balloons would probably do a fine job defeating this so called Replicator Initiative.

    1. Keith Newman

      Not sure that’s a typo. The US and all other countries agree Taiwan is part of China. I think Taiwan agrees it’s part of China (could be nuances to that).

      1. caucus99percenter

        The official name the Taipei government gives itself is still “Republic of China.”

        For decades, backed by the West, it hung on to China’s seat in the U.N. — not only agreeing it was part of China, it purported to represent all of China.

        All through the 1950s and -60s, highbrow writing in the U.S. was expected to refer to it as “Nationalist China.”

        For us older folks who still remember when Taiwan was called Formosa and you could get into trouble for saying “Peking” instead of “Peiping,” the sudden urge of our elites to declare Taiwan to be not-China seems obtuse, perverse, and ahistorical.

        1. digi_owl

          Yeah i got the impression that Pelosi’s visit to Taiwan was as part of her placating the “expat” community around SF that still cling to the notion that Taipei is the seat of the true government of China.

          Frankly that seems to become an ever larger burden on both the east and west coast of USA (and maybe Canada). Monied descendants of groups that fled Europe and Asia that carry on a blood feud, and use their money to distort US foreign policy accordingly.

    2. diptherio

      Not a typo. Taiwan is recognized by the US, the UN, and others, as a part of China. So the talk of “invading Taiwan” is indeed China invading China.

  2. vao

    The article exhibits a weakness that underlies the thinking in the West (and especially in the USA): that military technology and production can unfold separately from civilian technology and production. In other words, a self-contained military sector can design, manufacture, and improve its products without depending upon a comparably well-developed civilian industry.

    I wish I had kept the reference, but I remember to have read reviews of a study (a couple of decades ago) showing that, in balance, the civilian sector was adopting and benefitting from developments in the military sector till the 1960s (think radars, aircraft engines, logistics, project management and operational research, materials, aerodynamics, computers, etc), but from the 1970s on, the flows of technology and know-how inverted (i.e. the military was largely taking over and adapting civilian technologies for its own purposes, not developing technologies that could then be transferred to civilian usages — think software, telecommunications, materials, all kinds of electronics, automation, AI, chemistry…)

    Given the massive shift of industry from Western to Asian countries, I would not bet on the USA (or Western Europe) catching up with China on drones. Consider:

    (1) Drones for hobbyists, media, or industrial usages: in majority Chinese products — about two-thirds of the world market.

    (2) China has recently certified the first autonomous aircraft — from EHANG, designed and manufactured in China.

    (3) I have seen a number of videos showing mass-market drones swarming in the sky, dynamically forming images — showing New Year wishes and the like. I cannot remember having seen one from Western countries, all videos seemed to originate from China.

    (4) To take with plenty of salt: the Chinese military is already testing an autonomous surface vessel able to launch swarms of autonomous drones.

    It would appear that China is clearly leading in all technological aspects of that advanced drone warfare (not in the tactical ones: for that, one must acquire the practical experience on the field).

    It is quite ironic: the USA was the first country to deploy and use drones for military purposes on a large scale. During the wars against Somalia, Afghanistan, and Iraq, the USA had no rivals in that area; Reapers and Predators ruled. I also remember reading some analysts writing that every insurgent group was taking good note of that development in warfare, and that the blowback — in form of small, cheap, undetectable drones striking US troops or the USA itself — would come inevitably.

    It is also ironic that the large, complex, expensive drones, and requiring proper landing pads to operate, are no longer ruling the battlefield contested by modern armies. Thus, in Ukraine the Turkish Bayraktar gave way to the hardy, affordable Iran-inspired devices that can be catapulted from almost anywhere, and the mass-market, cheap Chinese quadcopters that can take off from everywhere. It is a bit reminiscent of the early evolution of tanks: the British designed the first ones — huge, ponderous monsters that smashed everything in their path; this quickly pushed the major belligerents (Germany, France) to design comparable vehicles; but in the end the French came with the winning solution that would define what a tank is — small, nimble, with a rotating turret, and that could swarm enemy positions.

    1. digi_owl

      About the Ehang, the range seem and flight time seem too limited to be anything more than a novelty. Maybe it will change with newer models, maybe not.

      As for messages in the sky, i think i saw something like that out of Texas that was used as part of the election cycle.

      Anyways, US drone design and use basically depend on air superiority. As do the rest of the tactics Pentagon practice these days.

    2. southern appalachian

      Yes but don’t forget “From her perspective, China, Russia … lack the natural birthright of all Americans, that “innovative spirit.”

      So we’re all good. More:

      “ Hicks touted America’s advantage in technological creativity and know-how. “We out-match adversaries by out-thinking, out-strategizing, and out-maneuvering them,” she insisted (upon borrowing a slogan from a reality television show). We augment manufacturing and mobilization with our real comparative advantage, which is the innovation and spirit of our people.”

      Our real competitive advantage is a bit ethereal as she describes it, hopium-ish. But her statement is also an admission that we have no advantage in manufacturing or logistics or intelligence.

      I don’t know. I assume most of the satellites will be knocked out first 24 hours and the ships carrying all the AV’s that aren’t sunk by hypersonic missiles will get lost crossing the pacific, end up who knows where.

      None of that matters- If I worked in the defense industry, the replicator program would sound like the big rock candy mountain to me. Plus, works politically. If you tried to spend that money upgrading the energy grid, as an example, you’d be a communist and run out of the county. So, all in.

      1. Gordon

        Hicks: “we win by “out-thinking” them.”

        Let’s see. ‘Wins’ would include the invasion of Grenada and… err, um… well lots of others probably but I just can’t seem to remember them all right now.

    3. Kouros

      Also consider the ability to mobilize population for a war economy, when the US is no longer the #1, has deep socoieconomic problems, and even if there is political bipartisan support, there is in fact minimum support from the population.

      Add in some more persistent droughts, wildfires & excessive heat, hurricanes, and an acceleration of the sea levels rise as posited by Dr. Hansen recently, including on the NC links. Polycrisis is a misnomer. ClusterF%$k is more like it. Or FUBAR.

  3. NN Cassandra

    Western talk about autonomous swarms looks like another MIC scam to me. Does NATO have even individual autonomous drones? If so, surely Ukraine would be interested. If not then how they want to build swarms of something they don’t have in the first place?

    And it shouldn’t be that hard to make these. In fact, both Ukraine and Russia are getting there, I’m pretty sure at the end of this war they will have FPV drones able to fully autonomously seek and destroy targets. Just launch it in the general enemy direction and let them have fun with it. I wonder if the Ukrainian versions will find its way to Western militaries, or if it will be quietly lost along the way, because what they have will be too cheap and actually proved to work in the field, so impossible for MIC milk money on it.

    1. juno mas

      It appears that Russian electronic warfare is now disorienting FPV’s on the battlefield.
      Wondering how that will affect AI managed drone warfare?

  4. GM

    The topic is much deeper than this — nukes these days are small enough that you can actually put them on drones. And the drones have sufficiently large range to serve as an equivalent to SRBMs and even IRBMs.

    It hasn’t been done yet as far as we can tell, but you can certainly imagine swarms of low-flying cheap stealthy drones carrying small nukes (but “small” here means all the way to 50-kt or even more) being launched in large numbers while the other side’s defenses have been dulled by having to fight conventional drones previously.

    Right now the nice thing about missiles is that they are huge and expensive, which creates a certain strategic disambiguity that is nice to have — if you see a large missile salvo launched towards you, you know they are likely nuclear and you respond in kind. In turn, the side that would be sending such a salvo knows that this is how you are going to react, which is why it never sends it in the first place.

    But if drones that are ubiquitously used for conventional attacks can also carry nukes, that whole deterrence framework falls apart, and we are in a previously unimaginably risky nightmarish new world…

  5. Simple John

    Sorry to retreat from speculation about war toys? I think we have reached the time, although not the consciousness, that “War, what is it good for?” deserves to be clarified before we get all goosy with the technology.
    If the answer is “Nothing”, then waxing eloquent in public on destructive technologies is embarrassing. Without embracing context, all presumed knowledge is simply pleasuring oneself, enjoying hearing oneself say the words that give us the most serotonin or adrenalin.

  6. ilsm

    Autonomous in operation must be fed real time data for situation awareness.

    That is AI depends on real time high pedigree data, implies comms that can be jammed……

    High mission numbers implies high reliability…. an issue for US vendors, maintainers and the supporters.

  7. NYMutza

    Aren’t most of the politicians in Washington drones? They swarm and wreak havoc across this nation and much of the rest of the world.

  8. Patrick

    If China is already outproducing us on missiles, they’ll never outproduce us on drones. At their core, both are autonomous weapons systems. It seems like the US is already conceding we can’t out manufacture China on missiles. Which is just conceding we can’t out manufacture China anywhere.

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