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NZDF Not Part of US Military’s Plan to Flood Asia-Pacific With Drones

The United States military is pushing ahead with its plan to flood the Asia-Pacific region with drones – but New Zealand’s military is not on board with it.

The Pentagon has begun to pick tech systems it will fast-track under its ‘Replicator’ initiative to deploy thousands of low-cost drones.

It announced the move in August as a counter to China, and plans a Replicator summit in Washington early next year.

The New Zealand Defence Force told RNZ it would not be sending anyone to the summit.

“Further investigation is required before we can commit resources to the summit,” it said.

Replicator was new to it and the NZDF did not have any involvement in the programme, it told RNZ.

Australia has signed up to what the US is also calling “collaborative combat aircraft and autonomy”, and Japan was in on it early.

New Zealand has advocated binding limits on weaponised drones.

The Defence Force has bought about 100 drones in the last few years. However, it is currently in the midst of a crisis of resources and high staff turnover.

The first AUKUS artificial intelligence and autonomy trial organised by the Defence Science and Technology Library. Photo: Defence Science and Technology Laboratory

By contrast, the US military is pushing hundreds of millions of dollars of rapid experimentation projects into production in the next few months.

“So now is the time to take all-domain, attritable autonomy to the next level: to produce and deliver capabilities to warfighters at the volume and velocity required to deter aggression, or win if we’re forced to fight,” the Deputy Secretary of Defence Kathleen Hicks said in August.

Source : RNZ