“I argue all the time with my Air Force friends that the future of flight is vertical and it’s unmanned,” U.S. Marine General Kenneth McKenzie, head of U.S. Central Command, said earlier this year. “I’m not talking about large unmanned platforms, which are the size of a conventional fighter jet that we can see and deal with, as we would any other platform.”
“I’m talking about the one you can go out and buy at Costco right now in the United States for a thousand dollars, four quad, rotorcraft or something like that that can be launched and flown,” he continued. “And with very simple modifications, it can make made into something that can drop a weapon like a hand grenade or something else.”
A swarm of small explosive-laden drones could represent an even more serious threat across an entire area of a battlefield and is a capability that other countries, beyond China, including Turkey, have been developing in recent years, as well. Though the video of CAEIT’s test showed the drones conducting kinetic strikes, they may also be able to carry small electronic warfare packages to carry out non-kinetic attacks or act as decoys, as well. Italian defense contractor Leonardo just recently demonstrated such a capability for the U.K. Royal Air Force and the U.S. Army is also looking at developing a family of swarming drones that can be air-launched.