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Drones are already a key part of modern warfare, but in the future, they'll almost certainly play a bigger role. And according to the Marines, that will include swarming enemy positions during amphibious landings.

Lt. Gen. Robert Walsh, the Corps' commanding general for combat development, detailed this future to the Unmanned Systems Defense Conference, near Washington, D.C., today, Defense Tech reports. Using the Office of Naval Research's Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology, or LOCUST, the USMC will revolutionize the way it conducts beach assaults and in turn will save human Marines.

"Whether it's on the surface, under the surface, or in the air, we're looking for the opportunity for, 'How will Marines move ashore differently in the future?'" Lt. Gen. Walsh asked. "Instead of Marines being the first wave in, it'll be unmanned robotics...sensing, locating and maybe killing out front of those Marines. "We see that 'swarm-type' technology as exactly the type of thing – it will lower cost, dominate the battlespace, leverage capabilities...and be able to complicate the problems for the enemy."

While LOCUST and other swarm technology is out there, we're still a long way from deployability. In the meantime, Walsh told Defense Tech, the Corps will look to simple quadcopters for recon.

"Having a small UAS — quadcopter-like UAS — that was an easy one. We're going to do that. We probably want those across the entire force, but what we want to do, as we see this technology change so rapidly, we're going to first buy four battalions' worth, and see how that operates."

Corps' Commandant Gen. Robert Neller echoed that sentiment last month, DT reports, saying "At the end of next year, my goal is that every deployed Marine infantry squad [has its] own quadcopter."

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