Drone Wars

As the Veil War moves on, things like this will become increasingly important. Drones are one of John Robb’s major interests, and he’s one of the best sources for good thinking about their future.

How does the addition of drones change the nature of combat/conflict?  Why?  The tech is moving too fast.  Here are some of the characteristics we’ll see in the near future:

  • Swarms.  The cost and size of drones will shrink.  Nearly everyone will have access to drone tech (autopilots already cost less than $30).  Further, the software to enable drones to employ swarm behavior will improve.  So, don’t think in terms of a single drone. Think in terms of a single person controlling hundreds and thousands.
  • Intelligence.  Drones will be smarter than they are today.  The average commercial chip passed the level of insect intelligence a little less than a decade ago (which “magically” resulted in an explosion of drone/bot tech).  Chips will cross rat intelligence in 2018 or so.  Think in terms of each drone being smart enough to follow tactical instructions.
  • Dynamism.  The combination of massive swarms with individual elements being highly intelligent puts combat on an entirely new level.  It requires a warrior that can provide tactical guidance and situational awareness in real time at a level that is beyond current training paradigms.

As will become clear when the bonus story goes out later today (remember to sign up for email updates or befriend the Facebook page so you get it) the invasion hits the United States fully as hard as it does Iraq.

How will the United States fight back when large chunks of its territory and population are no longer under its control? When the Federal government is disemboweled and almost non-existent? When most of its traditional manufacturing heartland is under the yoke of alien domination?

The need will be to create cost-effective weapons systems that can be manufactured in a distributed manner. No F-22s, no B1 bombers – those simply won’t be feasible in the new environment. The core of a drone is essentially an RC plane with a camera and some computer guts. People have already built homemade cruise missiles for $5000. The capabilities of future drones will increase dramatically just as the cost of goes down – just as has happened in the computer world, and for the same reasons.

For a great read, and a fictional depiction of how these technologies might be employed, read Daniel Suarez’ Daemon and Freedom™. Both are fantastic books and well worth your time for more reasons than just the treatment of drone warfare.

Freedom™ also discusses in detail another obsession of Robb’s – resilient communities. These ideas will have an important place in the future of the Veil War – not so much immediately, because the primary focus of our characters right now is surviving the next minute or hour.

If you were a refugee in Virginia, Kentucky, Iowa, or California fleeing what Capt. Lewis is fleeing but without heavy weaponry, what could you do to survive?