US Military is Creating Massive Drone Swarm to Confront China

The United States government will be producing a drone swarm of roughly a thousand drones in the next two years to combat the military ascendancy of China, per a Department of Defense announcement.

Kathleen Hicks, the Deputy Defense Secretary, states that the US’s new Replicator program will manufacture drones at a “scale of multiple thousands, in multiple domains” in an effort to “overcome [China’s] biggest advantage, which is mass”.

During a speech to a military conference in Washington DC, Hicks outlined the threats the US is facing from China. Although China was “relatively slow and lumbering” during the Cold War, since then it has built a military to “blunt the operational advantages we’ve enjoyed for decades”, Hicks contended.

The Replicator program has the power of deploying thousands of drones at a time across air, land, and sea. Hicks stated that this move would “empower our warfighters, not overpower or undercut their abilities”.

On August 28, 2023, Hicks stated the new drone swarms would be deployed “in line with our responsible and ethical approach to AI and autonomous systems”.

“We must ensure the PRC [Chinese] leadership wakes up every day, considers the risks of aggression.” She concluded, “today is not the day.”

The US is clearly pursuing a confrontational strategy against China as it puts the finishing touches on its pivot to Asia.

The US is playing a dangerous game here. China is a nuclear-armed power with great power aspirations. So it won’t just fold over to the US when it tries to impose its will on China. 

US policymakers must recalibrate their approach to China. Instead of going to war with China, US leaders need to focus on other things such as immigration restriction and trade decoupling that will limit Chinese influence in the US while maintaining peace abroad.

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