Editor’s Note: There are a lot of great Americans doing fantastic work out there, and thankfully a number of them are doing that work in the black world in order to ensure the longevity of this great nation and our way of life. We at FighterSweep are not in the business of giving away secrets and offering up capabilities, and sometimes it’s a fine line between keeping the door closed and wanting to acknowledge unsung heroes and their tireless efforts to keep us safe and make sure our military stays at least one step ahead of the opposition. The Strategic Capabilities Office, or SCO, is a fine example.

High over Alaska last summer, the Pentagon experimented with new, secret prototypes: Micro-drones that can be launched from the flare dispensers of moving F-16s and F/A-18 fighter jets. Canisters containing the tiny aircraft descended from the jets on parachutes before breaking open, allowing wings on each drone to swing out and catch the wind. Inch-wide propellers on the back provided propulsion as they found one another and created a swarm.

The experiment was run by the secretive Strategic Capabilities Office, a Pentagon organization launched in summer 2012 to figure out how to best counter growing strategic threats from China and Russia.

William Roper, director of the Defense Department’s Strategic Capabilities Office, shows the U.S. military’s new micro-unmanned aerial vehicle, which are fired from moving fighter jets through flare dispensers. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)
William Roper, director of the Defense Department’s Strategic Capabilities Office, shows the U.S. military’s new micro-unmanned aerial vehicle, which are fired from moving fighter jets through flare dispensers. (Photo by Jahi Chikwendiu/The Washington Post)

The specifics of what the mini-drones can do are classified, but they could be used to confuse enemy forces and carry out surveillance missions using equipment that costs much less than full-sized unmanned aircraft. Video reviewed by The Washington Post shows the tiny aircraft, which weigh about a pound each, moving in packs and gaining situational awareness after sitting inert in the flare canisters.

SCO’s staff labored in the shadows since its inception, with virtually everything it did withheld from the American public. But the shroud of secrecy was lifted partially in recent weeks. Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter for the first time disclosed last month the existence of some of the office’s projects while previewing his proposed 2017 budget. He called for $902 million in funding for SCO in 2017 — nearly twice what it received this year, and 18 times what it started with.

Go check out the original article at the Washington Post! It can be read in its entirety right here.

(Featured photo courtesy of the Washington Post)

 

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