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Fighter Jets Of US Air Force Test Fired First-Ever Swarming Munitions

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Fighter Jets Of US Air Force Test Fired First-Ever Swarming Munitions

IMAGE: afrl.af.mil

Fighter jets of the US Air Force carried out a first ever usage of “collaborative weapons” on December 15 using technology developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory (AFRL) and Scientific Applications & Research Associates (SARA), the Air Force said in an official statement on January 7.

The statement said the following:

A team from the Air Force Test Center flew an F-16 aircraft and released two Collaborative Small Diameter Bombs (CSDBs), which are Small Diameter Bombs that have been modified with a collaborative autonomy payload. The CSDBs quickly established communication with each other and their seekers detected a GPS jammer.

During the mission, the weapons referred to pre-defined Rules of Engagement (RoEs), a set of constraints preloaded by a mission planner, and determined that the jammer was not the highest priority target. The weapons then collaborated to identify the two highest priority targets. However, due to an improper weapon software load, the collaboration guidance commands were not sent to the weapon navigation system. Without the updated target locations, the weapons impacted a fail-safe target location.

“The Golden Horde demonstration with the Small Diameter Bomb flights is an important step on the path to Networked Collaborative Weapon systems. Completion of this first mission sets the stage for further development and transition to the warfighter,” said Chris Ristich, Director of AFRL’s Transformational Capabilities Office.

This initial demonstration represents a critical first step for the Golden Horde program, an initiative focused on advancing networked, collaborative and autonomous – or NCA – weapon capabilities through live and virtual testing. These new technology areas provide the Air Force with a revolutionary way to engage adversary targets.

NCA weapons observe and react to a dynamic battlespace in real time, thereby increasing mission effectiveness within the enemy’s decision loop. When deployed in mass, NCA weapons effectively share information and collaborate to overwhelm adversary defenses.

The technologies enabling this new capability include a home-on-GPS-jam seeker that gathers information about the battlespace, a software defined radio for communication between weapons and a processor preloaded with collaborative algorithms.

The collaborative algorithms use a dynamic approach called play calling, similar to a quarterback calling a play in football. A “play” is an established behavior that groups of collaborative weapons, or swarms, can enable (or disable) when they meet certain predefined conditions. Weapons that use this technology are semi-autonomous since they abide by pre-defined Rules of Engagement and only execute based on an approved list of plays.

While this demonstration has given the Air Force insight and confidence in networked, collaborative, and autonomous weapons technologies, no intention currently exists to transition this technology to the CSDB. Col. Garry Haase, Director of the AFRL Munitions Directorate explains, “This successful Golden Horde demonstration builds the foundation for integrating this technology into a variety of other weapon systems, which will help the U.S. maintain a technological advantage over our adversaries.”

“I’m very pleased with results of this first test,” stated Steven Stockbridge, the Golden Horde Principal Investigator. “The team saw good performance from the networked collaborative sub-systems and understand the root cause of the weapons not impacting the desired targets. We anticipate readiness for the next flight test.” Two more CSDB flight tests are planned for early 2021, increasing the number of collaborative weapons in each demonstration to four.

In fact, the US Air Force has been testing the swarm-like weapon systems similar to the weaponized drone swarms.


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johnny rotten

As usual, the losers console themselves with useless bullshit.

Just Me

Interesting and beguiling that the US spends a trillion dollars a year on weapons and military, but has never won a war?

chris chuba

I wouldn’t dismiss this but see it for what it is. Assuming that the bombs find the target, it just means that multiple small bombs will find the same target making it expensive for a defense system to stop all of them. It’s a sound strategy in principal. They mentioned attacking a jamming system but were cagey about describing their targeting system (maybe classified).

John Tosh

Absolute nonsense….. it only works when the target does not see it coming.


that is not really the issue


the issue is that the usa is a dinosaur utterly incapable to function without being fed huge amounts of food and therefore this program even thou they claim will not cost much is going to be a huge expense ahead which they cant even possibly dream about


the usa is as done as the soviets were before the wall fell only that the usa is not a civilization state like russia so it will be gone and all these fantasies they have today are as useful as the fantasies of the soviets in the past

Servet Köseoğlu

This projects initial name was Gray wolf which was executed by Air Force Research Laboratory but canceled at 2019 july. Golden Horde is almost same project(too long to write the differences) targeting system:multi-mode targeting systems that include imaging infrared seekers.


its like painting tiger stripes on dinosaur bones and call it a wildlife experience


the point about this is clear and they want to say that their expensive trash isnt utterly useless


In the absence of hyper-sonic speed missiles other option is always “saturated attack” = “swarm attack”
Nothing that modern multilayered defenses can’t take care of.


with the american case its obviously foolishness so i agree with you there but at the same time swarm attacks can be useful against the west because they are the worst at missile technology therefore also in missile defense and generally their close in systems are not even good if they waste another 10s of billions on it to try


Small diameter bombs have a range of 100 kms, the video showing B2 bombers deploying these weapons would be easily within the S400 kill zone.
Their first test failed.
It is interesting to note that the US Air Force lacks the fortitude to attack sophisticated air defenses with their stealth aircraft, instead of relying on technological gimmicks providing them with stand off capabilities.


wow as usual the usa is totally full of it why dont they show us anything other than their fantasy video

Aleks Noir

I suppose if you launched enough of these at a number of important targets, it could be used to overwhelm layered defenses and targets important AA infrastructure.

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