In Europe, a consortium has pitched the idea of having intelligent drone swarms to confuse, disable and destroy enemy air defenses.
The European Union (EU) put forth this proposal. EU officials asked companies earlier in the year to submit ideas for “promising breakthrough technologies” in the field of artificial intelligence and defense.
The idea behind the intelligent drone swarms, also known as “SEAD Swarm,” is to create algorithms that would enable a mass of aerial drones to inspect characteristics of air defense systems and deliver that information within the swarm. The ultimate goal is for the drone to derive a plan of attack against weak points. This could be carried out by blinding radar sensors, overwhelming anti-aircraft fire with kamikaze-type tactics, or attacking sites with explosive payloads.
SEAD stands for “suppression of enemy air defenses.” A decision from European decision-makers on the award of an approximately $2 million grant to start the project is expected to happen in the next few months.
Consortium officials stress that nothing would be built in the initial phase of this project. Their idea is to incubate the necessary “swarm logic” and learning algorithms in a simulation environment. This will allow scenarios to be played out and quickly adapted to.
If this drone is adopted by the EU, the countries of Finland, Germany, Slovenia, Estonia, the Netherlands, and Austria would detail military officials to an advisory board to ensure the planned simulations would reflect real-world combat situations to ensure the effectiveness of the drone.
With this project and many other AI weapon projects, there are ethical and legal questions that arise and must be addressed if the project moves forward, like at what point should a drone be cut off from communicating with human decision-makers in the final phase of an attack.
If the SEAD Swarm project is selected to move forward, the consortium includes sensor and hardware manufacturers that could be tapped to build prototypes.