China's Drone Fleet Flies In Formation

China's military is increasingly interested in drone swarm warfare:

The Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) anticipates that future warfare will be “unmanned, invisible, and silent” (“无人、无形、无声”战争), with ever higher degrees of “intelligentization” (智能化). PLA strategists expect that future, autonomous combat involving unmanned systems, as well as the joint operations of unmanned and manned systems, will have a dramatic impact on traditional operational models. Future UAV swarming (无人机集群) will involve “intelligentized” and semi- or fully autonomous systems. The PLA recognizes the disruptive potential of these techniques, which could be used for saturation assaults (饱和攻击) to overwhelm the defenses of high-value targets, including perhaps U.S. fighter jets or aircraft carriers...

in June 2017, CETC [China Electronics Technology Group Corporation] demonstrated its advances in swarm intelligence with the test of 119 fixed-wing UAVs, beating its previous record of sixty-seven. This swarm engaged in catapult-assisted takeoffs and demonstrated complex formations. At the time, CETC commentary highlighted that swarm intelligence is future of intelligent unmanned systems, and CETC UAV expert Zhao Yanjie (赵彦杰) characterized future intelligent swarms as a disruptive force to “change rules of the game” in warfare...

In his 1995 novel The Diamond Age, science fiction author Neal Stephenson wrote about a similar swarm of devices tasked with surveillance and security - the dog pod grid:

Atlantis/Shanghai occupied the loftiest ninety percent of New Chusan's land area...

...the real border was defended by something called the dog pod grid - a swarm of quasi-independent aerostats...

These pods were programmed to hang in space in a hexagonal grid pattern about ten centimeters apart...

See the more detailed and annotated article at RealClearDefense.

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