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Anti-China bloc tests swarms of AI-powered drones – Reuters

Washington, London and Canberra have tested the capabilities of drones to detect and track military targets

The US, UK and Australia showcased new swarms of AI-powered drones, marking the first-ever collaboration on autonomous drone technology between members of the AUKUS security pact, officials described as a way to counter China.

The allies made the triptych “capacity test” at the end of last month in Wiltshire, Great Britain, where they won the “collaborative live in-flight model recycling and AI model exchange between AUKUS nations” for the first time, according to the US military.

“The work saw the initial joint deployment of AI-enabled Australian, UK and US assets in a collaborative swarm to detect and track military targets in a representative real-time environment,” the Pentagon said in a statement Friday.

Formed in 2021 with the aim of deterring China in the Indo-Pacific region, the AUKUS pact has been repeatedly criticized by Beijing. Under the “Pillar I” of the agreement, the United States pledged to provide nuclear submarine technology to Australia “as soon as possible”.

Hosted by the UK’s Defense Science and Technology Laboratory, the drone tests were carried out as part of “Pillar II” of the AUKUS partnership, which calls for “develop and provide joint advanced military capabilities” between the three allies in order to “to promote security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region”.

The Chinese Foreign Ministry insists that new military initiatives will only “motivating an arms race, harming the international nuclear non-proliferation regime and harming regional stability and peace”, urging the three members to cease “ignore the concerns of the international community.”

Although officials did not provide detailed details of the UAV trials, the British military said they were involved “more than 70 military and civilian defense and industry contractors,” which tested swarms of Blue Bear Ghost and Boeing/Insitu CT220 drones.

British forces provided several tanks and armored vehicles for the demonstration, while private contractors provided a number of Soviet-era self-propelled howitzers and BMP vehicles produced in the former Czechoslovakia. The equipment was used to test the ability of drones to track military targets on the battlefield.

Pacific country in talks to join AUKUS bloc

“This trial demonstrates the military advantage of AUKUS’ advanced capabilities, as we work in coalition to identify, track and counter potential adversaries from greater range and with greater speed,” British Lieutenant General Rob Magowan, a senior Ministry of Defense official, said in a statement.

The Australian military said the tests “achieved several world firsts”, including live retraining of drone swarms in flight.

Russia also sees the expansion of its Western military presence in Asia as a risk that could lead to a protracted conflict. “I can’t imagine major Asian civilizations toeing the line as the EU unfortunately did and meekly carrying out Washington’s agenda,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in March.

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