Because the current fleet of drones apparently isn’t lethal enough…
Of course the list of countries being bombed by drones might beg to differ. It also might be worthwhile for the U.S. military to first fulfill the promise of carrying out precision strikes against terrorists instead of predominately killing innocent civilians – then actually report the real numbers of those massacred – but, alas, such is not the true motivation of military development, it is merely to develop and proliferate.
With the above as the backdrop, today marks the first day of the Paris Air Show, an event that has been running every two years since 1909, this year commemorating its 52nd incarnation. These days the show is predictably dominated by the world’s largest defense contractors such as General Atomics. However, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune, it is a lesser-known “mid-tier” contractor named Kratos Defense and Security Solutions that aims to steal the show by presenting its vision for the “most lethal drones ever designed” dubbed UTAP-22 Mako and XQ-222 Valkyrie.
The highly maneuverable Kratos UAVs are being built to fly just under the speed of sound — nearly 700 miles per hour for the Mako and about 50 mph slower for the Valkyrie — and mimic the capabilities of jets like the Marine Corps’ AV-8B Harrier II.
With a length of 30 feet, the Valkyrie boasts a big bomb bay, the ability to climb twice as high in the sky as the Predator and a fuel range of nearly 3,500 miles. That’s about the distance between New York City and London. It’s also twice the range of the U.S. Air Force’s stealthy and lethal F-35A Joint Strike Fighter, but at a fraction of the sticker price.
The video put out by the San Diego Union-Tribune can be seen here, but the following video features some of what is visually known about the Valkyrie and Mako drones.
Interestingly, according to Kratos’ website, some of the language would suggest that their company very well could be a major player in coming years, being positioned “at the forefront of the Department of Defense’s Third Offset Strategy.”
Regular readers might have heard about the Third Offset Strategy in a recent article that I featured by two retired military generals who referenced that mission. Essentially, it is a directive of DoD to employ future technologies in obtaining military supremacy; but, as the generals intimated in their article, even that strategy was set to expand into “operational omnipresence”:
Operational omnipresence is exactly what it sounds like: perpetual, networked presence that enables operations and awareness anywhere in the world. It consists of three primary interconnected components: physical assets, virtual capabilities, and information. It’s the culmination of where you are, where you can be quickly, and awareness of what is occurring everywhere else. In other words, operational omnipresence is superlative forward presence — a U.S. military preoccupation since at least World War II — accomplished by a variety of interacting means. (emphasis added)
Going back to Kratos, we can see that they will be a perfect fit, as it’s not only drones that they are developing:
Kratos’ primary focus areas are unmanned systems, satellite communications, microwave electronics, cyber security/warfare, missile defense and combat systems.
Operational omnipresence in a nutshell. It is important, then, to understand that when we hear about the latest particular piece of equipment in development or being rolled out, much more integrated systems are being planned beyond these single components. Given the trend that we already have seen with the surveillance capabilities and lethality of military drones, it is unsettling to witness an unmitigated expansion of their mission.
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Also Read: Global Drone Arms Race Spreading Quickly