by DAVID AXE
In January 2008, five Iranian military speedboats swarmed three U.S. Navy warships passing through the Strait of Hormuz. There were some tense moments, as the Iranian boats sped around and through the American formation — and the Americans braced for a potential attack. “Unidentified surface craft, inbound,” a U.S. sailor announced. “Identify yourself,” he ordered, via radio, to the assailants, during the 20-minute encounter. (See video.)
Eight years earlier, a small boat had exploded alongside the U.S. destroyer Cole, in Yemen, killing 17 sailors. Since then, the world’s navies have worried about the threat posed by large numbers of fast, cheap boats, capable of slipping past radar and other defenses, to wreak havoc on large naval formations. Somali pirates demonstrate similar tactics, on a regular basis. In April, a swarm of pirate boats attacked a Yemeni tanker convoy, capturing one vessel.
Swarms are a favorite tactic for low-tech, irregular forces, for they leverage quantity, over quality. But major militaries are also looking to capitalize on the concept, as well, especially to boost the lethality of robotic systems. Because they’re relatively cheap and can be built small and equipped with fast-thinking, computer “brains,” robots are the perfect basis for swarms.
(Photo: Daily Mail)