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November 29, 2023
The first candidates for the Department of Defense’s (DOD) planned Replicator drone program are to be selected by mid-December, Deputy Defense Secretary Kathleen Hicks announced.
Initially announced in August, the initiative is designed to ramp up production of military drones for U.S. forces.
Speaking at a Defense Writers Group meeting, Hicks said that while the selection process is underway the chosen drones would not be publicly announced for security purposes.
“With Replicator, our goal really is, in this initiative, to get to scale fast,” Hicks said. “Our…operational goal is to create dilemmas for China and any other competitor who might look at this approach and try to undermine it…How we choose to speak about it, in terms of the particular programs or projects that we’ll be accelerating through Replicator is to be determined.”
Funding for the first batch of selected candidates is already included in the 2024 fiscal budget, and Hicks said the department will not be seeking any additional funding for this first round. Instead, she said the DOD is looking to ramp up production and delivery of the selected systems.
“How do we pick the ones that are most relevant for Indo-Pacom (Indo-Pacific Command) and that can deliver quickly and that can deliver in quantity?” Hicks said. “That’s what we’re looking at right now..”
The Replicator program was established to mass-produce thousands of autonomous systems, including uncrewed aircraft and underwater drones, for deployment in the Indo-Pacific region.
The goal of the program is to bolster the U.S. against the rapidly expanding military power of China.
“Replicator is meant to help us overcome the [People’s Republic of China]’s biggest advantage, which is mass. More ships, more missiles, more people,” Hicks said when announcing Replicator. “To stay ahead, we’re going to create a new state of the art … leveraging attritable, autonomous systems in all domains.
“With smart people, smart concepts and smart technology, our military will be more nimble, with uplift and urgency from the commercial sector.”
Assistant Editor, IoT World Today
Scarlett Evans is the assistant editor for IoT World Today, with a particular focus on robotics and smart city technologies. Scarlett has previous experience in minerals and resources with Mine Australia, Mine Technology and Power Technology. She joined Informa in April 2022.
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