The U.S. Army has released a detailed look at what it wants from a new family of air-launched multi-purpose unmanned aircraft, which will include types capable of operating as scouts, electronic attackers, decoys, and even suicide drones. They will be capable of semi-autonomous operating together with other manned or unmanned planes and helicopters and may be able to work together by themselves as a fully-autonomous, networked swarm. These so-called "Air Launch Effects" are set to be a key component of the arsenal for the Army's future advanced armed scout and assault transport helicopters, but will also almost certainly find their way onto other existing and future manned and unmanned platforms, including the service's MQ-1C Gray Eagle drones.
The Army's Combat Capabilities Development Command (CCDC) released a request for information for possible drones and associated technologies that could into various types of these Air Launch Effects (ALE) on Aug. 12, 2020. The contracting notice is focused primarily on prospective drones that fit into "large" and "small" size categories and systems to enable them to perform one or more of four different functions, active and passive surveillance types, decoys, and those capable of "disrupting" the enemy via non-kinetic strikes. There is also a mention of an "ALE-Lethal," a loitering munition type, though the specific desired capabilities for it are not outlined in the document.
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