TECH
01/09/2015 12:28 BST | Updated 01/09/2015 12:59 BST

Full-Scale Military Drone Operation Confirmed By US DARPA Gremlin Program

The US' Department of Defense has confirmed plans to build an army of drones that will eventually replace manned aircrafts in a war zone.

The Gremlins program, unveiled by DARPA -- Defense Advanced Research Project Agency is researching unmanned aerial vehicles that can be launched mid-air by a larger aircraft.

gremlin drone

Once the mission is complete, DARPA say these drones will be recaptured mid-air and stored for another mission, which could happen within 24 hours.

DARPA explains the program will be a low-cost way of helping US forces have better "operational flexibility."

"With an expected lifetime of about 20 uses, Gremlins could fill an advantageous design-and-use space between existing models of missiles and conventional aircraft," said Dan Patt, DARPA program manager.

“We wouldn't be discarding the entire airframe, engine, avionics and payload with every mission, as is done with missiles, but we also wouldn't have to carry the maintainability and operational cost burdens of today's reusable systems, which are meant to stay in service for decades,” he said.

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While the title of the program appears be quite harmless -- Gremlins were good luck charms used by British pilots during World War II -- the repercussions of the research on human life, could prove to be grim.

The US first began using drones during George W. Bush's presidency and since then, it has become a regular weapon of war.

According to Business Insider, drone strikes ordered by Obama have killed 4,500 in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

It also reports: while US drone "targets" are often deemed to be civilian-free areas focusing on potential terrorists, the reality is the death toll usually includes the innocent as well as the guilty.

In June, CIA officials reported the death of an al-Qaeda leader during a so-called signature strike, which targets regions based on terrorist activity and assumes those living in the region are engaged in terrorism.

However, the Washington Post later said officials had no way of knowing the leader would be targeted in the drone attack.