Airborne ISR still years away from futuristic swarm concept

The Defense Department's strategy for employing airborne intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) sensors and platforms against adversaries is threated on a number of fronts, including aging aircraft, advanced sensors that overload data links, new cyber vulnerabilities and budget shortfalls, reports Aviation Week.

A possible solution, which is years away from being fielded, is to link smaller unmanned aircraft that can swap out payloads, the story said. Applied in a swarm configuration, they would take substantial losses from enemy air defenses, but enough would survive to deliver the ISR data needed by U.S. military forces.

One of the military services, the Navy, is hard at work crafting joint-buy alternatives for both large manned aircraft and also smaller unmanned designs, some of which are stealth oriented and others that are more conventional, the story said.

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