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Autonomous Combat Drone takes the Initiative


Autonomous unmanned systems, or ‘drones’, that support combat in the air domain are continuing to develop - as is the concept of unmanned wingmen that directly support manned aircraft. Now the US Company, General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has added its own solution to the mix, announcing its latest jet-powered robotic drone known as the ‘Gambit’. 

GA-ASI jet-powered robotic drone known as the Gambit - conceptual image showing four in flight
The Gambit will use artificial intelligence and autonomous systems to fly alongside human-piloted aircraft, however, the Gambit is unique in its function. Like the chess-opening move that inspires the name, the Gambit takes the initiative, with the GA-ASI describing it as “leading from the front using advanced sensing to grab the tactical advantage and open a world of possibilities”.

The Gambit is referred to as an ‘Autonomous Collaborative Platform’, a flying team-mate that will work collaboratively with manned aircraft to detect, identify and target adversaries at range and scale across the battlespace. Its artificial intelligence will enable it to autonomously complete a variety of tasks without being prompted by an operator. It will also be able to take the initiative and carry out tasks on its own, not only for combat, but also for intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance, while distributing the collected information to other units as required.

Estimated time to maturity: 2 to 5 years

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