10 Most Insane Secret Weapons In The World
Russia’s Nuclear Tsunami Apocalypse Torpedo 'Poseidon'
Russia’s dreaded nuclear torpedo, designed to nuke entire coastal cities into oblivion and trigger tsunamis, has been sighted in tests at sea. Once thought a hoax, internet researchers have tracked development of the system all the way back to 2008. The weapon was recently named “Poseidon” after the Russian military polled the public for a new name.
The weapon, formerly known as “Status-6” and KANYON, was recently renamed Poseidon. Poseidon beat out two other names, Aurora and Skif, in a naming contest held by the Russian Ministry of Defense. Unfortunately The Worst Weapon Ever was not part of the contest, but it should have won handily.
DARPA has chosen a drone for its strange-sounding concept: charging aircraft in midair with laser beams. The concept could lead to unmanned planes that stay aloft indefinitely.
The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's laser-powered flying drone works like this: The aircraft has solar panels in the wings, particularly the dorsal wing, and batteries in the fuselage. The batteries provide the initial source of power, but as they drain down, the drone operators aim a laser beam at the solar panels. Regular shots of laser power can recharge the aircraft to the point where it can stay aloft indefinitely.
DARPA’s program is called the Stand-off Ubiquitous Power/Energy Replenishment - Power Beaming Demo (SUPER PBD). The agency has now picked Silent Falcon’s eponymous drone for testing. DARPA will try out the concept by flying the Silent Falcon and shooting a laser down at it from a mountainside.
The ability to recharge a drone with lasers does face some hurdles. For one, lasers lose strength the farther they travel and can be obscured or even blocked by smoke, haze, fog, and rain. DARPA figures it can recharge the drone at up to 6.8 miles, but that maximum will vary under real-world conditions. The team acknowledges there are safety issues with shooting a laser up into the air, which is why, for the test, they’re placing the laser on a hill and pointing downward (though they didn't say whether a drone-recharging laser could start a wildfire during the recharging process).
Nevertheless, if DARPA and Silent Falcon can prove this concept works, they could open the door to even longer-0range drones operating in both the commercial and military sectors. Drones could fly for weeks fulfilling a contract or mission, not landing until the job is done.
China's Giant Ionosphere-Zapping Radar Is a Defense System Masquerading as Science
The South China Morning Post recently revealed plans for a new Chinese radar facility on the island of Hainan, China’s southernmost point. Described as a “high-powered incoherent scatter radar,” this installation will bounce radio waves off the Earth's high-altitude layer of charged gas called the ionosphere.
Although the project is in step with the county’s other mega-science projects—like planning the world’s most powerful particle accelerator, building the largest single dish radio telescope, or racing other nations to the nuclear fusion finish line—experts think the new facility is more interested in military matters than discovering the secrets of Earth’s upper atmosphere.
America’s Least Secret Weapon
The possible military benefits of an ionosphere radar isn’t lost on other countries, especially the U.S. The Navy and DARPA ran a similar facility–the High Frequency Active Auroral Research Program (HAARP) in Gakona, Alaska—before it was passed to the University of Alaska in 2014. Although it was sold as a project focused on studying the ionosphere, these 40 acres of radar antennas figured prominently in conspiracy theories involving government-sanctioned weather control, human-made earthquake and tsunamis or just general “mental disruption throughout a region.”
The conspiracy theories don't hold up, of course. Today the University of Alaska runs HAARP, pointing its arrays skyward for researching atmospheric plasmas, solar wind, and the behavior of particles in the ionosphere. But militaries are still intensely interested in the ionosphere because of one major tool on today’s modern battlefield: satellites.
During HAARP’s military tenure, experiments investigated possibilities of turning the ionosphere into a giant antenna for Extremely Long Frequency (ELF) radio waves. Unlike shorter radio wavelengths, ELFs travel through water and can be picked up by submarines at operating depth as deep as several hundred feet and several experiments tested this methods sub-aquatic communication abilities. The U.S. also hypothesized that ELF could detect mines or interfere with enemy satellites.
The Chinese facility will be similar to HAARP in many ways. Expected to begin construction later this year, it’ll be somewhat smaller having only “several hundred” megawatts, compared to HAARP’s 5.1 gigawatts of power. The big difference is motivation: the main purpose of the facility is apparent in its incredibly strategic location in the South China Sea.
HAARP was deliberately sited in the wilds of Alaska; the nearest settlement is Gakona, population two hundred. The Chinese facility is on the densely-population island of Hainan, beside Sanya, a beach-side city bigger than Miami or Honolulu with more than four hundred thousand inhabitants.
It’s an unusual location, according to Sue Mitchell of the University of Alaska Geophysical Institute, who says HAARP’s location was so remote partly because its high-power transmissions could have big city complications. “These can interfere with commercial radio stations in the area,” Mitchell told Popular Mechanics. “Siting it near a major city could cause issues.”
There’s also the question of air traffic. HAARP’s radio beam would have serious effects on any passing plane’s electronics. Whenever the facility is in operation, a Temporary Flight Restriction closes the surrounding area to aircraft. This happens only three or four times a year, but it can last up to ten days at a time.
“Air traffic is pretty sparse around Gakona, Alaska,” says Mitchell. “That was part of the reason for it being located where it is.”
By contrast, Hainan is the middle of international air traffic lanes for flights to China, Malaysia, Vietnam, and the Philippines. Any high-powered transmission is going to cause significant disruption or risk accidents. But where its location might be a headache for airline industries, it’s military benefits are equally numerous.
As long as U.S. submarines operate in this part of the world, China has no chance of dominating it. But a system which could blank out ELF communications and selectively interfere with other satellite communications would severely affect any submarine operations in the South China Sea.
China could even use the new array as a transmitter for ELF radar to detect submarines at long range. The U.S. Navy discounted this approach in the ‘80s but the technology may be ripe for reappraisal. At least a dozen of recent scientific papers have looked at ELF radar for investigating underground features, finding natural resources, and locating pipelines. Interestingly, almost all these research papers have been from China. One paper suggests the same technique might be applied to ‘underwater target detection,’ another looks at ELFs for detection of underwater objects. Finding submarines is definitely on the agenda.
This idea isn’t as far-fetched as it seems. In order to make it work, a military would need aircraft flying nearby with a magnetic detector to pick up radar returns. China’s new Y-8Q Maritime Surveillance Aircraft can do just that—and it’s already deployed in the South China Sea.
Pournelle’s idea came to have the name “Project Thor,” though it was eventually given the much more menacing title of “rods from god.” Regardless of the name used, the potential destruction was enormous. As explained by Popular Science, the rods from god were tungsten rods made to be nearly 20 feet in length and a foot in diameter. A pair of satellites would be placed thousands of miles above the earth, with one controlling the targeting and communications, while the other would carry an untold number of rods.
Starting with those on the ground monitoring and controlling the satellites, and ending with the rods’ impact, the whole ordeal could play out within 15 minutes. The rods from god could achieve speeds multiple time the speed of sound; the nine inches of penetration the lazy dog bombs could achieve pales in comparison to hundreds of feet their larger counterparts could travel.
Best of all? Project Thor could impact with the force of a nuclear weapon, without the nuclear fallout that would affect the surrounding environment and any people unfortunate enough to be there.
The Modern Day Equivalent
Project Thor was never turned into a real weapon, as they were simply too expensive to launch, but the concept of a weapon based on kinetic energy hasn’t gone away. In fact, it’s seeing a bit of a resurgence. In 2013, the U.S. Air Force 846th Test Squadron test fired a “Kinetic Energy Projectile warhead” that moved 3,500 feet per second, or three times the speed of sound. Earlier this month, the Navy tested a long-range electromagnetic rail gun and its electromagnetic hyper velocity projectile. According to Scout, it can fire a kinetic warhead “at speeds greater than 5,000 miles an hour.”
Speaking to Task & Purpose, Matt Weingart, weapons program development manager at Lawrence Livermore, explained that while a traditional bomb relies on chemical explosives to do damage, kinetic weapons only need speed and mass.
“[For traditional bombs] the violence comes from the chemical explosive inside that bomb sending off a blast wave, followed by the fragments of the bomb case,” said Weingart. “But the difference with kinetic energy projectiles is that the warhead arrives at the target moving very, very fast — the energy is there to propel those fragments without the use of a chemical explosive to accelerate them. The more mass, the more violence.”
It’s unclear how much money the U.S. military might save from switching to kinetic weapons, as well as just how far away we are from practical applications of kinetic weaponry in real world scenarios. Yet at the rate that technology is advancing, it’s only a matter of time before we incorporate space into warfare, and likely find new ways to increase the power of our weaponry as we do.
Juliet Marine Systems Ghost
Meet the underwater ghost ship: Stealth military machine can travel at high speed on water - then submerge in a 'supercavitation bubble' to hit similar speeds under the sea
Juliet Marine Systems has unveiled plans for an underwater version of its drag-reducing Ghost boat. The new concept, called the Guardian (pictured), is a ‘submersible unmanned surface vehicle’ that creates a bubble of gas around itself to minimize friction
Guardian will be powered by a diesel powertrain with hybrid electric drive, according to JMS.
The system will incorporate the same technology used in the Ghost vessel, but will be capable of both surface and subsurface operations.
It’s planned to be 30-45 feet long, and hit a top speed of 35 knots on the surface with four feet of draft – topping just over 40 miles per hour.
With these capabilities, Guardian could be used for surveillance, mine-hunting, and 'anti-swarm, short-range firepower.'
The firm estimates construction will take 18 to 24 months, and says the finished vessel could be transported by sea, air, or land.
‘We believe Guardian is the first surface vessel that is a fully submersible USV and one that will meet or exceed the USV mission needs of navies around the world at relatively low cost,’ says Gregory Sancoff, President and CEO of JMS.
‘We expect it to transform the way navies fulfil their operational requirements in maritime technology and provide greater capacity in littoral operations, with a host of multi-mission capabilities encompassing intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR); mine hunting; and anti-swarm, short-range firepower.
'These is no other platform like this in the world.’
According to JMS, the design can also be customized for a buyer’s specific needs.
This comes just months after JMS revealed the Guardian’s predecessor, Ghost, earlier this year.
Sea Dragon Weapon
The U.S. Navy and an unknown defense contractor are working on a new missile the service says will give its submarines a new, “disruptive offensive capability” to take on enemy ships. The previously unknown weapon, known as Sea Dragon, supposedly combines existing an U.S. Navy platform with an existing capability, is likely a new version of a versatile air defense missile capable of pinch hitting as an anti-ship missile.
The Washington Post broke the story over the weekend that Chinese hackers had compromised the computers of a Navy contractor and stolen 614 gigabytes of data. The stolen data pertained to the Navy’s Naval Undersea Warfare Center, which conducts research and development on submarine systems. According to the Post, the stolen data includes, “signals and sensor data, submarine radio room information relating to cryptographic systems, and the Navy submarine development unit’s electronic warfare library.”
As if that weren’t bad enough, it also included data on the Navy’s new “Sea Dragon” weapon system. The Post withheld some key information about Sea Dragon at the request of the Navy, but did state that the weapon is a supersonic anti-ship missile for use by submarines. According to a statement by the Navy, the weapon was a “disruptive offensive capability” created by “integrating an existing weapon system with an existing Navy platform.” The weapon was to start underwater weapons testing later this year and be ready for service 2020.
What is Sea Dragon? Well, the Navy knows, as does a certain defense contractor. And it’s safe to say that China knows thanks to that 614 gigabytes of lost data. The fact that the missile is based upon “an existing weapon system” is a huge clue, as is the fact that it’s supersonic. All four of the Navy’s offensive missiles: the Harpoon anti-ship missile, Tomahawk land attack missile, the new Naval Strike Missile, and the Long Range Anti-Ship Missile are all subsonic missiles. We can count those weapons out.
SM-6 missile rising from a vertical launch silo on the USS John Paul Jones.
What other existing Navy missiles fit the bill? Just one actually: the newish Standard Missile (SM) 6 air defense missile, or SM-6. The latest development of the Standard series of surface-to-air missiles, SM-6 is designed to be launched by U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyers and Ticonderoga-class cruisers to defend the fleet from cruise missiles, manned aircraft, unmanned aircraft, and even short-range ballistic missiles. SM-6 has a range somewhere around 180 miles. The missile's only drawback is, originally designed to shoot down flying targets, it has a fairly small blast fragmentation warhead.
The SM-6 is indeed supersonic. In fact, it can fly at 3.5 times the speed of sound, or 2,685 miles an hour. The SM-6 also has the fun trick of taking targeting data from other Navy assets, including the E-2D Advanced Hawkeye airborne early warning and control aircraft and the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The system, known as Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air or NIFC-CA, allows any of these airborne platforms to relay threat targeting data to SM-6 missiles.
Under a typical engagement, a E-2D Advanced Hawkeye flying ahead of the fleet could detect a swarm of incoming anti-ship cruise missiles. Because the cruise missiles fly low to the surface and radar is a line-of-sight sensor, the fleet’s radars would have difficulty detecting them until they were very close. But a E-2D flying high enough to see them at long range could pass on targeting data to an escorting destroyer, which could launch a volley of SM-6s to shoot down the cruise missiles. This vastly increases the ability of the fleet to defend itself, particularly as anti-ship missiles grow faster over time.
In 2016, then-Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter announced that SM-6 had an anti-ship capability. The Standard class of missiles has always had a secondary ability to attack ships—several were used in the late 1980s against Iranian warships during Operation Praying Mantis. In 2016, the Navy sank the decommissioned frigate Reuben James (yes, that Reuben James, the star of the Tom Clancy novel Red Storm Rising) with SM-6 missiles. The same E-2D in the scenario could instead detect a Chinese naval task force and the same destroyer launches the same missiles, only to destroy enemy ships.
The Navy’s Virginia-class submarines each have twelve vertical launch system (VLS) tubes in their nose, behind the sonar array, for Tomahawk land attack missiles. If the Navy can stick an undersea version of SM-6 in those silos, each Virginia sub could suddenly have a battery of 12 Mach 3.5 anti-ship missiles on call. Later versions of the Virginia class will include the Virginia Payload Module, which can accommodate 28 Tomahawk-sized missiles.
Now imagine a new scenario: the U.S. and China are at war. Somewhere in the Pacific, a Virginia-class submarine equipped with a Virginia Payload Module is ordered to a precise set of coordinates, at which point it is to launch all 28 SM-6 missiles on a particular heading. The submarine commander only knows what direction to shoot and that the target is a Chinese naval task force. Once the missiles are in the air, they receive targeting data from a carrier-based F-35 that has been using its stealth to shadow the Chinese warships.
The result is that the Chinese fleet is on the receiving end of 28 supersonic anti-ship missiles that suddenly show up on their radar screens 180 degrees from what they thought was the real threat: an American aircraft carrier. The Chinese fleet has four minutes to detect, track, and destroy all 28 missiles, and then there’s the matter of the huge aerial armada of American carrier-based aircraft that just showed up on their radar screens.
If SM-6 isn’t Sea Dragon, then the real Sea Dragon is likely something very much like it. There really is no other supersonic weapon in the U.S. Navy’s inventory that fits the requirements, and the abilities the missile brings to the table, particularly the ability to take targeting data from other assets, make it a very useful submarine-launched weapon. On the other hand, there might be considerable engineering challenges to make SM-6 fit in a submarine.
Or not. For now it’s just speculation, at least unless the Navy—or China—decides to release details on the real weapon.
Russia has been on the forefront of building unmanned ground vehicles and last week the Russian Defense Ministry confirmed that their armed drone tank Uran-9 was tested in Syria.
The Uran-9 is powerfully armed with anti-tank missiles, an automatic cannon, and a machine gun. It can also be reconfigured to carry different weapons like surface-to-air missiles. Additionally, the unmanned vehicle is equipped with advanced optics and targeting systems including a laser warning system and thermal imaging.
While the deployment of the Uran-6, a minesweeping drone, in Syria has been widely reported on, little has been said publicly about the Uran-9, and military observers and analysts have yet to see it in Syria.
“In reality, [the] Uran-9 tests in Syria should have garnered major attention from all major Russian news outlets, given how proud Russian [sic] are of their remote-controlled tank,” said Samuel Bendett, a research analyst specializing in Russian unmanned systems at the Center for Naval Analyses. “Still, such tests may have taken place in secret.”
But the official statement is a clear indication of its use overseas.
The Uran-9 on display during a Victory Day parade in Red Square on May 9, 2018Russian Presidential Press And Information Office
RIA Novosti, a state-run news agency, quoted the Defense Ministry as stating, “The robotic complexes [sic] Uran-6 designed for mine clearance were well proven in Syria, as well as Uran-9, a multifunctional reconnaissance and fire support unit on the battlefield.”
It remains unclear if the Uran-9 saw combat and where in Syria it was deployed, but the area has served as a proving ground for advanced Russian weapons.
Since its Syrian intervention in 2015, the resurgent Russian military has battle tested an arsenal of new weapons including the Su-57 stealth fighter jet, the T-90 battle tank, ship-launched cruise missiles and air defense systems.
“As we helped the brotherly Syrian people, we tested over 200 new types of weapons,” said Vladimir Shamanov, the head of Russian parliament’s Defense Committee and a retired military officer.
While unmanned aerial vehicles have been widely deployed in conflicts around the world, unmanned ground vehicles remain largely untested and the Uran-9 marks a significant step. For instance, the United States, China and several other nations have developed drone tanks, but are still evaluating potential uses and how to overcome the platform’s shortcomings.
With any drone, one of the primary goals is to minimize the risk of injury to service members. But unlike aerial drones—which can easily receive radio and communication signals from its controllers—a ground drone’s signal is often blocked by buildings, hills, or other physical barriers which severely limit its range. This requires an individual to be fairly close to operate the vehicle, exposing them to danger.
Furthermore, it is unclear how these systems will perform in hotly contested areas with heavy electronic warfare that could jam or hijack a controller’s system. In Syria, reports have emerged that Russian jamming has affected the GPS systems of small U.S. surveillance drones, disrupting their operations.
In the case of the Uran-9, it is remotely controlled by an individual from a mobile vehicle that must remain within 1.8 miles. The automatic turret is able to detect and acquire targets, but the ultimate decision to fire rests with the controller.
An Uran-9 unmanned ground combat vehicle during Day of Advanced Technologies of Law Enforcement in 2017Vitaly Kuzmin
This philosophy closely matches the U.S. military’s approach to lethal unmanned systems, which it has dubbed “centaur warfighting” after the half-man, half-horse creature from Greek mythology. The strategy calls for close human control of autonomous weapons in a relationship that enhances an individual’s abilities rather than outright replaces them.
Just as aerial drones have changed modern combat, unmanned ground vehicles will transform how wars are fought on the ground.
Autonomous and semi-autonomous ground vehicles hold significant possibilities for the future of warfare. In conjunction with manned tanks they can provide additional firepower, be deployed in more dangerous areas, fire at enemies or dismantle defenses. Finally, all of this can be done while their operators remain at a safer distance.
According to Russian defense officials, the Uran-9 can provide reconnaissance while navigating rugged or hostile terrain. It can also beam images back on an adversary’s location or even attack a fortified position while it acts as a scout.
As the Uran-9 has shown, technologically the age of drone tanks has arrived, it is only a question of how militaries will use them. So far Russia has been the earliest adopter, and its next moves could have significant implications for other countries and future battle concepts.
Tank-Killing Quadcopter Drone
The armed forces of Belarus have demonstrated a new quadcopter drone that can carry a tank-killing rocket launcher.
The drone carries a RPG-26 single-shot rocket that is remotely fired by the drone operator. And while the drone is of questionable effectiveness as a tank destroyer, it is a deadly harbinger of things to come on the unmanned battlefield.
A video taken on May 18 at the Losvido Training Ground in Belarus shows off the new drone. A quadcopter carrying what appears to be a RPG-26 rocket-propelled grenade launcher takes off and fires the rocket at an unknown target. The video was discovered and posted online by DefenceBlog.
The type of drone is unknown, but it appears to be a quadcopter capable of lifting of at least 7 lbs. The RPG-26 it's carrying is a single-shot rocket launcher. Originally designed during the Cold War for Soviet ground troops, it is a simple tube with a firing switch. Inside is a short-range 72.5-millimeter rocket with a shaped charge warhead. The RPG-26 weighs 6.39 lbs., has a range of about 250 yards, and penetrates between 400 to 500 millimeters of rolled homogeneous steel armor, the standard metric for armor plating.
The RPG-26 can’t penetrate enough armor to take out an American M1 Abrams main battle tank—at least head on, anyway. It probably can’t penetrate the M1’s flank armor, either. However, a rocket-firing drone could conceivably maneuver to shoot at the top or rear of a tank, where armor is thinnest. The RPG-26 could also be dangerous to lighter vehicles such as the M2 Bradley, Stryker combat vehicle, and the new Army Multi Purpose Vehicle (AMPV).
Shooting the rocket is one thing. Aiming it correctly is another thing entirely. The drone appears to lack a useful aiming system and the video doesn’t even bother to show the rocket flying downrange. Ideally, a system like this would have a camera parallel to the path of the rocket, with an aiming point projected on the drone operator’s screen.
The Belarusian tank drone is the start of what could become a very uncomfortable trend for Western tankers. The RPG-29 "Vampir", a 105-millimeter rocket fired from a reusable rocket launcher, actually has disabled Abrams tanks. Although the entire RPG-29 system weighs 27 pounds, the rocket itself weighs just about 12 pounds. If drone makers can triple the payload of an anti-tank drone they could create a creditable tank killer, capable of swiftly charging at enemy armor and then firing crippling shots against their weak spots.
Iron Curtain is an active protection system (APS) designed by the American Company Artis. The Iron Curtain is designed to protect military vehicles and other assets by intercepting threats such as rocket-propelled grenades and other shoulder-launched missiles and rendering them inert.
The Iron Curtain anti-RPG active protection system for light tactical vehicles was tested by the DARPA (U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency) mounted on light tactical vehicle Humvee (HMMWV). DARPA in November 2009 awarded Mustang Technologies a contract to integrate Iron Curtain with its Crosshairs counter-shooter system for tests on an MRAP. Cued by the corner-mounted Crosshairs' radar, an optical sensor classifies the incoming threat and selects the aimpoint. When the RPG is just inches from the vehicle, the roof-mounted countermeasure fires straight down, deflagrating the warhead before it can detonate.
The Iron Curtain system can be integrated onto any ground vehicle platform, as well as rotary winged aircraft, watercraft and fixed sites such as buildings.
In August 2016, it was announced that the Company Artis will integrate the Israeli radars from Rada Electronic Industries Ltd. into its Iron Curtain close-in active protection system (APS). The Rada radar has been validated dozens of times in live-fire tests of another hard kill system, the Israeli-developed Iron Fist by state-owned IMI Systems.
According the Artis Company website, manufacturer of the Iron Curtain APS, the system is being tested on the Stryker 8x8 armoured vehicle. The Iron Curtain has also been installed on the Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle, the M-ATV, and the Humvee.
Artis began its APS work on Iron Curtain in 2004 as a DARPA project, and the system quickly succeeded during its first live-fire test in August 2004. Since that time, the system has undergone numerous government testing, and during the 2013 live-fire test — as part of the Army’s Ground Combat Vehicle (GCV) program — the Iron Curtain system received a perfect score. Additionally, the software architecture for the Artis Iron Curtain APS has been approved via the Joint Services Weapons Safety Review process.
'Gremlins' Will Turn Airplanes Into Flying Aircraft Carriers
According to DARPA, the rising costs of crewed aircraft prompted it to look for a solution that involved reusable uncrewed aircraft. Advances in uncrewed technology prompted the agency to look drones that could be launched by any aircraft, including from the rails of a F-16, the internal weapons bay of a B-1B bomber, or out the cargo ramp of C-130 transport. Here's a DARPA video that illustrates the concept:
At some point, someone at DARPA asked, if a drone were that small, could it be retrieved in midair? That would remove the need for a landing mechanism, whether that be landing gear wheels or some kind of parachute, leaving room for more payload or greater endurance. It also means that a single large aircraft can land with a belly full of Gremlins, instead of a dozen or more Gremlins landing in succession at a nearby air base, creating air traffic congestion.
There’s a precedent for midair recovery. As far back as the 1930s, the U.S. Navy was launching and recovering small F9C-2 Curtiss Sparrowhawk biplanes from its two Akron-class airships. The Akrons could lower a Sparrowhawk into its slipstream via hook, whereupon the pilot detached the plane and it flew away. The airships used their hooks to recover the planes and retract them into the hangars built into these cavernous ships.
The Akrons were meant to provide the eyes and ears of a U.S. Navy battle fleet, and the Gremlins will perform a similar role. In the event of war, a handful of crewed planes could launch dozens of the Gremlins, each focused on gathering information on a specific area or known enemy radar or weapons system. The Gremlins will then send that information upstream to flight crews, giving them the information to attack or avoid enemy defenses. Another possible mission for Gremlins is to jam enemy communications and radars.
Once the drones have accomplished their mission, they will rendezvous with a C-130 Hercules that lowers a capture device. The Gremlins are hooked, powered off, and then hauled aboard the transport aircraft. After refurbishment, refueling, and perhaps a payload swap, they are ready for another mission within 24 hours.
Gremlins are almost certainly just the beginning in the United States' return to flying aircraft carriers. Larger transport aircraft could launch and retrieve larger, more capable drones. As uncrewed aerial vehicle technology becomes more sophisticated expect drones to carry out their own attacks, either with their own weapons or using kamikaze attacks. The descendants of DARPA’s Gremlins might some day hunt enemy aircraft, by themselves or in conjunction with crewed aircraft.