Defense Dept. studies swarming

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Scientists and defense strategists have long been fascinated with how the swarming techniques of insects could be applied to the battlefield. Now the Defense Department plans to pay to study it.

Defense officials will soon launch an analysis of how swarms of unmanned aerial vehicles and other unmanned systems could be used in combat. John Stenbit, assistant secretary of defense for networks and information integration, has agreed to fund a swarming analysis that will start in October and be conducted at the Joint C4ISR [command, control, communications, computers, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance] Decision Support Center in Arlington, Va.

Working with an estimated $1 million to start, the analysis team will include representatives from Stenbit's office, Joint Forces Command, the Joint Staff and the Army Space and Missile Defense Laboratory, according to a Joint Forces Command spokesman.

In addition to the swarm analysis, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory and Altarum will conduct a separate experiment to compare various swarm command and control methods with traditional approaches of searching for ground targets.

The comparative experiment will use unmanned air vehicles called Smart Warfighting Array of Reconfigurable Modules (SWARM). They will be equipped with video cameras, a Joint Forces Command spokesman said.

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