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US in a quality vs quantity drone warfare dilemma

The US is reevaluating its approach to drone warfare, with strategic thinking divided between fielding a few highly capable but costly drones or instead using high-cost drones as command centers for swarms of low-cost drones.

The US Army is now actively seeking private industry partners to develop a large drone capable of performing multifaceted missions including reconnaissance, surveillance, security, attack, precision strike and intelligence collection, Breaking Defense reported.

The initiative, still in the planning stages, aims to enhance the army’s capabilities in large-scale combat operations by integrating advanced sensor technologies and precision-guided munitions, the report said.

The army’s desired unmanned aircraft system (UAS) should be able to operate at high altitudes, preferably above 30,000 feet, with a range of 500 nautical miles and short takeoff and landing (STOL) features.

The US Army’s request for information, open until July 7, reflects a willingness to consider various options, the Breaking Defense report said.

The move comes after a year of significant changes in the US Army’s aviation roadmap, influenced by lessons from the battlefield, particularly the ongoing conflict in Ukraine. Those changes are seen in the discontinuation of the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft (FARA) program and a gradual reduction in the use of smaller drone fleets.

The US Army’s changing approach underscores the evolving nature of aerial reconnaissance and the increasing role of unmanned systems and space-based assets in gathering intelligence.

The US Army has yet to officially announce if the new drone program aims to address the capability gap left by FARA’s cancellation. Some analysts believe it may result in