KEY POINTS

  • Drones pose a significant threat to special forces
  • SOCOM will equip its special ops with drone-killing drones
  • AI will play an important role in anti-drone systems

U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) will equip its Green Berets with unmanned aerial systems designed to destroy enemy drones.

According to the commander of U.S. Army Special Operations Command, Lt. Gen. Francis Beaudette, drones are a significant threat to the Green Berets special forces — they can take away the troops' ability to hide on the battlefield. U.S. Army Special Forces need means to counter this threat.

On Wednesday (May 13), during the Virtual Special Operations Forces Industry Conference, Gen. Beaudette said that SOCOM is developing drone-killing drones in partnership with the defense industry. Details about the anti-drone systems, the types of weapons employed and partners involved in the project were not disclosed at the moment.

According to National Defense, Beaudette noted that artificial intelligence will play a role in anti-drone systems. Machine learning algorithms will allow operators to make fast decisions in order to engage the hostile drones threat. AI will enable human-machine teaming in the future, providing greater situational awareness and cognitive enhancements for special operations troops.

U.S. Army special operations units sent in small teams behind enemy lines are vulnerable to attack. They could be outnumbered and surrounded by enemy forces. Competitor military powers are investing in capabilities that may erode U.S. advantage in the area. Therefore, U.S. Green Berets need new technology to survive and be effective on the battlefield.

In order to maintain its advantage, SOCOM is looking for diverse new technology that is mobile and intuitive, which will help troops to be stealthier and to see better. The command is currently accepting proposal submissions from defense industry partners until May 21.

According to Bloomberg, there is already an operational anti-drone system. It has been developed by Anduril Industries, a startup in Irvine, California. The drone-killing drone is called the Interceptor. After receiving the command to attack, the unmanned aerial system can find targets and approach them on its own.

The Interceptor destroys drones by collision. If the first impact doesn’t take its target down, the Interceptor can circle back all by itself and strike a second or third time, until completing its mission.

Anduril began shipping its drone-killing drones to military clients early last year. According to the company, its Interceptors are also deployed to conflict zones overseas.

military drone A lack of effective anti-drone technology has U.S. government agencies scrambling for an answer. Photo: Reuters/Darrin Zammit Lupi