The drone swarming technology the Pentagon is seeking as part of its Third Offset effort took a “large step forward just this week,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter said Friday. Speaking at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., Carter did not disclose any details, but said more will be heard about the project—headed by DOD’s Strategic Capabilities Office—“in the months to come.” Swarming drones are just one of the “game-changing” technologies the SCO is tasked with pursuing. Carter said the office is also developing a cross-domain capability for the Army Tactical Missile System—a surface-to-surface missile—by integrating an existing seeker that will enable it to hit moving targets at sea up to 300 kilometers from shore. Carter said as these and other investments, including an arsenal plane, “yield new weapons systems and warfighting capabilities in the coming years, some of them much sooner than you might think, they’ll need to be demonstrated so that they’re effective in deterring future conflict.” During an earlier panel discussion at the CSIS event on Friday, Deputy Defense Secretary Robert Work said the Third Offset effort is “focused on one thing, and one thing only: conventional deterrence. It is designed to strengthen US conventional deterrence to hopefully avoid ever any major confrontation with any major state.” (See also: The Third Offset from the August 2016 issue of Air Force Magazine.)
U.S. Air Force F-35s and F-22s regularly deploy deep into the Pacific region from Alaska, Utah, and Hawaii. In the future, though, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command would like to see the Air Force permanently station fifth-generation aircraft west of the international date line—closer to China.