The US military has announced its intention to switch to less visible means of targeting terrorists abroad by using mini-drones or Micro-Air Vehicles. This may replace the larger Predator class drones where such large kinetic strikes elicit diplomatic outrage and local backlash on the populations below. In spite of the tremendous amount of precision and the increased efforts and pressure to limit and lessen collateral damage, American forces are learning to go smaller and stealthier.
Mini-drones will allow US forces to throw out another surprise element in counter-terrorist operations as well as enhanced ISR missions.
The mini-drones can be launched as a swarm by aircraft or other aerial platform. The new model developed by the Naval Research Laboratory is called the Cicada (Close-In Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft). The program has been under exploratory development since 2006.
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