THE future of drone warfare could look like something out of Star Wars with swarms of drones from the air attacking machines in the sea, experts say.

Drones are becoming a useful tool in the arsenal of nations across the world as the machines are cheap to produce and easy to proliferate.


Experts say swarms of drones could attack aircraft carriers as drone warfare continues to evolveCredit: Getty
Seth Frantzman told The Sun that America's status as a superpower has 'eroded' as rivals such as China have tested stealth drones and officials are willing to invest in new  technologies


Seth Frantzman told The Sun that America’s status as a superpower has ‘eroded’ as rivals such as China have tested stealth drones and officials are willing to invest in new technologiesCredit: Getty

The US was considered the leading world superpower following the end of the Cold War as Washington asserted its military might and economic dominance.

But, drone expert Seth Frantzman said the US’ status as a superpower has “eroded” as rivals such as China have tested stealth drones and officials are willing to invest in new technologies.

Beijing has invested heavily into drone warfare over the past decade as the regime aims to achieve its goal of military parity with the US by 2049.  

And, ex-marine Brendan Mulvaney said the days where the US can assert air superiority and maintain dominance are “numbered”.

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In May, China launched an Artificial Intelligence (AI) drone mothership that could see swarms launching attacks against rival vessels.

The Zhu Hai Yun can hit top speeds of 20 miles per hour and can reportedly carry around 50 aerial, surface, and underwater drones.

Mulvaney told The Sun: “If we wait 10 or more years before we see a major conflict, the scope and scale of drones are going to change a lot.

“You may have effective and larger munitions coming off drones, but smaller drones could be weaponized to the point where you have this intermingling of a long-range autonomous weapon.

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“We often think of aviation drones but there’s a whole suite of unmanned vehicles that bring more capability, making it more challenging for the adversaries.”

Frantzman said: “Drones will not just slam into a ship with people on board.

“Drones from the air could attack machines in the sea and we could see something that looks more like Star Wars.”

Mulvaney warned that aircraft could face “very complicated” situations if they encounter drone swarms of up to 50 machines.

He said: “Aircraft may not know what to do if they are approached by a drone swarm.

“Does it choose to shoot down the drones? If so, which ones. How much of its onboard ammunition do pilots expend?”

But, Mulvaney doesn’t believe drones will be able to carry out military missions in the near future.


He doesn’t expect autonomous machines to outweigh the importance of the Air Force, Navy, and soldiers on the ground.

Mulvaney speculated that it might be possible for military officials to potentially put a nuclear weapon on the end of a drone, but warned it would be challenging and potentially violate international norms.

Russian officials sparked fear when the nuclear-armed underwater vehicle The Poseidon was unveiled.

The unmanned aquatic monster can reportedly cause tidal waves and “radioactive tsunamis”.

The nuclear weapon can be dropped onto the seabed by the submarine and travel through shore defenses until it reaches the desired location.

It can move through the sea at 125mph using a top-secret propulsion system and is said to be lethal against aircraft carriers.

Then, its nuclear warhead is designed to explode, sending a tsunami of toxic waves spewing onto the targeted coastline.


According to Russia, the Poseidon can carry either conventional or nuclear warheads, which enables them to engage various targets.

And, brash Russian TV host Dimitry Kiselyov claimed the Poseidon could be used to drown the UK in a tsunami.

Mulvaney warned a drone arms race is already underway, with nations and non-state actors able to get access to machines.

Terror groups such as Islamic State used drones in 2014 to carry out operations in Iraq and Syria.

And, machines were used in a failed bid to assassinate Venezuela’s President Nicolas Maduro in 2018.

Taiwan completed a 10-hour flight of its domestic Teng Yun drone last month, which was branded a “major milestone” by defense experts.

The machine largely resembles an MQ Predator, according to Chinese state media.

It took place against a backdrop of fears that Chinese forces could invade the island within the coming years.

Beijing regards Taiwan as part of its territory and has vowed unification by force if necessary.

Mulvaney said that groups have different objectives when it comes to preventing their adversary from carrying out its goals, making a common set of rules difficult to establish.

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He said: “There are no international norms when it comes to drone warfare because no one is willing to set them.”

In a chilling warning, he said it will “remain that way for the foreseeable future”.

China's  Zhu Hai Yun can carry around 50 aerial, surface, and underwater drones


China’s Zhu Hai Yun can carry around 50 aerial, surface, and underwater dronesCredit: Handout
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