To make this website work, we log user data. By using Shephard's online services, you agree to our Privacy Policy, including cookie policy.

Open menu Search

Why lawmakers want the US Army to have a Drone Corps

30th May 2024 - 16:38 GMT | by Flavia Camargos Pereira in Kansas City


A US Army soldier preparing a drone during an exercise in Hawaii. (Photo: US Army)

Despite opposition from the service’s leadership, the proposal to have a separate UAV and C-UAV branch has advanced in the House of Representatives.

The House Armed Services Committee recently approved a proposal for the National Defence Authorisation Act (NDAA) for FY2025 which determined the establishment of a drone corps as a basic branch of the US Army despite the opposition of service leaders.

Although the measure must pass through the rest of the House and Senate before entering into force, representatives have been advocating in its favour. They argue that it would enable accelerating R&D and acquisition efforts in addition to improving warfighters’ training.

The author of the proposal, Republican representative Rob Wittman (Virginia), stressed that it reflected “changes that have been occurring in real time on the Ukraine battlefield”.

What will future military drones look like?

How the US Army is getting ready to succeed in contested multidomain scenarios

AUSA 2023: US military to progress ‘aggressively’ with the development of C-sUAS solutions

US Army prepares troops and equipment to avoid drone surveillance and attacks

“The rise of electronic warfare and drone warfare are clear hallmarks of this conflict,” Wittman claimed during the Full Committee Markup on 22 May. 

“My mark establishes the Drone Corps as a basic branch of Army,” Wittman remarked. “It accelerates counter-UAS capabilities; it affirms rapid technology advancement in UAS and counter UAS technologies.”

From his perspective, “it is clear that the army leadership needs better inspiration and a renewal of thought” as they prepare service for the quickly evolving future of conflict. Wittman said he believed the Drone Corps would enable unlocking the full potential of unmanned platforms.

The text proposed for the NDAA for FY2025 stated that the drone corps would serve as the command centre being the organisation in the army with primary responsibility for programmes, projects and activities. It would involve small (from 25kg to 600kg) and medium (less than 25kg) unmanned aircraft and counter-UAS systems.

It would also develop counter-UAS strategies and capabilities; conduct research, development, testing and evaluation of UAVs; provide personnel with specialised training; and conduct efforts to attract and retain personnel with expertise relevant to the domain.

The units would be hosted by the Army Training and Doctrine Command, which has responsibility for preparing personnel for both deploying and countering UAVs on the battlefield.

Soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division assemble a drone during a training in Germany. (Photo: US Army)

The army currently has more than 20 branches covering manoeuvre fires and effects, operations support, force sustainment and health services. It includes traditional areas such as field artillery, infantry and armour, as well as newer corps such as cyber.

“It would be helpful to have a separate drone branch,” Gen. Randy George, chief of staff of the US Army, claimed before the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Defence.

According to George, drone technology must be “resident in every formation, at every echelon” and the army needs “that kind of flexibility”.

Improving its inventory within the realm has been a priority for the service. The army invested nearly US$2 billion in C-UAS solutions from FY2017 to FY2024. It has also been improving inventory and doctrine for the deployment of UAVs.

The version of the NDAA that established the creation of the drone branch was approved on 22 May by a vote of 57-1 after a session that ran over 12 hours at the House Armed Services Committee.

Lawmakers analysed more than 700 amendments and authorized nearly a $850 billion fund for the US DoD.

Shephard's Eurosatory 2024 coverage is sponsored by:

BAE Systems
Flavia Camargos Pereira


Flavia Camargos Pereira

Flavia Camargos Pereira is a North America editor at Shephard Media. She joined the company …

Read full bio

Share to