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IPFS News Link • Drones

Pentagon Developing AI Drone Swarms to "Deter" China

•, By Will Porter

Speaking at the yearly Defense News conference in Arlington, Virginia, Hicks outlined the Pentagon's new "Replicator Initiative," which aims to develop a fleet of low-cost, AI-powered drones that will operate in 'swarms' in the air, land and sea.

"With Replicator, we're beginning with all-domain, attritable autonomy, or ADA2, to help us overcome the PRC's advantage in mass: more ships, more missiles, more forces," she said, adding that the military plans to deploy the drones "at a scale of multiple thousands, in multiple domains, within the next 18-to-24 months."

The official did not specify costs for the new project, but insisted the Pentagon would not draw any additional funds from Congress. Instead, she said Replicator would use "existing funding, existing programming lines, and existing authorities," although she offered few other details.

While Hicks said conflict with China "is neither imminent nor inevitable," she went on to stress the need for "deterrence" against the People's Republic – including "across the Taiwan Strait," in Beijing's back yard.

"Our goal always is to deter, because competition does not mean conflict. We must ensure the PRC leadership wakes up every day, considers the risks of aggression, and concludes, 'today is not the day' – and not just today, but every day, now and for the foreseeable future," she continued.

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