COURTESY OF DYNETICS DARPA IMAGE
Named for the imaginary, mischievous imps that became the good luck charms of many Allied pilots during World War II, DARPA’s Gremlins program envisions launching groups of UAVs from existing large aircraft such as bombers or transport aircraft – as well as from fighters and other small, fixed-wing platforms – while those planes are out of range of adversary defenses.
Fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Analysis, a Washington, D.C.-based think tank. “All ideas are present in Sun Tzu. But when these ideas are applied for the first time, it can give an asymmetric advantage,” he said, citing Germany’s blitzkrieg tactics in World War II as an example, where an overwhelming force of armor, motorized infantry, artillery, and air power combined to force a local breakthrough that could then be exploited to continue the advance.
The so-called “Second Offset” strategy following the Vietnam War, which matured into the air-land battle concept, called for airborne sensors and missiles that could work together to overpower a large Soviet army without having to escalate to nuclear warfare. Also known as Assault Breaker, the strategy is centered on the deployment of a system of systems, Patt said. The problem with that approach was that it was “very brittle,” he said. It took years of engineering to ensure one system could link with another system.