Swarms of drones give Royal Marines a boost in groundbreaking experimental exercises

Hybrid armed forces are one of the keys to future superiority in warfare, and the British military has just taken a giant step in that direction. The Royal Marines Commandos recently participated in a breathtaking show of force based on coordinated action with not one but several autonomous systems, including a swarm of drones.

A recent exercise called Autonomous Advance Force 4.0, which is part of a series of experimental exercises, marked the first time the British Commando Force had operated an autonomous swarm of drones. The complex training unfolded at the Royal Air Force’s Electronic Warfare Tactics facility Spadeadam on the Northumberland border and off the south coast and integrated autonomous systems that operate in the sky, over land, on water and underwater.

In a first for the British defense, a total of six Malloy TRV150 Medium-Heavy Lift (68 kg / 150 lbs payload) drones were operated in a single autonomous group via a ground control station. Their main job was to deliver supplies ranging from ammunition to blood to help troops and paramedics keep track of things.
The swarm also conducted reconnaissance missions, and the drones proved that not only can they work together, they can also identify enemy targets individually and even switch roles between them if necessary.

The Malloy TRV150s were also used to throw Remus underwater vehicles into the sea. These autonomous systems use their sensors to identify mines and other obstacles and send the data back to the amphibious command. On the surface of the water, Madfox (one of the Royal Navy’s newest autonomous vehicles) conducted surveillance patrols, paving the way for Royal Marines commandos.

In the air, the Anduril Ghost drone provided live information for the commands. This mini helicopter is known to be almost silent, which makes it difficult to detect. It is able to take high-precision pictures and recordings and to track down targets on the ground or at sea.

All of these different autonomous systems were deployed in different combat scenarios over the course of 2 weeks. Hybrid Forces Experimental Drills began last year and will continue this year in the U.S. – Britain’s newest military drones will demonstrate their capabilities during Exercise Green Dagger.