The Department of Defense (DOD) has recently unveiled their plans for development of a repurposed arsenal plane which would be capable of carrying large amounts of missiles as well as bombs into battle. This arsenal plane is hoped to fly alongside modern combat aircrafts such as the Lockheed Martin F-35. The DOD also plans on investing in resilient and fast micro drones which can deploy from fighter jets while travelling at Mach 0.9, while having the capabilities of flying through strong crosswinds.
These plans fall under an initiative known as the Third Offset Strategy. America believes that such technology will put the country ahead of its opponents in future combat. Both projects were first announced by the United States Secretary of Defense, Ashton Carter, during a budget speech.
“[Arsenal plane] takes one of our oldest aircraft platforms, and turns it into a flying launch pad for all sorts of different conventional payloads,” said Carter. “In practice, the arsenal plane will function as a very large airborne magazine, networked to fifth-generation aircraft that acts as forward sensor and targeting nodes – essentially combining different systems already in our inventory to create wholly new capabilities.”
Carter stated that the micro drones had already been demonstrated in 2015 during an operational exercise held in Alaska. The micro drones are built with commercially available aircraft components and are printed through additive manufacturing. Carter did not disclose if the micro drones were explosive, though they are capable of being launched by hand from soldiers on the battlefield.
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