🔷 Drones in Ukraine

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Drones in Ukraine

The Center for a New American Security (CNAS) recently released a report titled Evolution Not Revolution: Drone Warfare in Russia’s 2022 Invasion of Ukraine.

We read it so you don’t have to—then took it a step further by sitting down with the report’s author, Dr. Stacie Pettyjohn, to discuss her research, observations, and findings.

We talked about drone tech, battlefield adaptions since the 2022 invasion, innovation on both sides of the conflict, and more.

Despite all of these happenings—what critical drone technology is still notably absent on the battlefield, and why is her assessment that this is a drone evolution and not a revolution? You have questions—we got the answers.

OBTW: this isn’t just about air drones…we chat drone boats too!

Check out the episode (and time stamps for easy reference!)

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In That Number


L3Harris plans to lay off 2,500 workers, representing 5% of its workforce


Poland’s president revealed they may join the five NATO countries that employ US tactical nuclear weapons on its fighters. Which country below is NOT one of the 5 nuclear-sharing nations?

A) Belgium
B) Germany
C) Italy
D) the Netherlands
E) Turkey
F) United Kingdom

On the Radar

The Air Force decided who will build the first Collaborative Combat Aircraft (CCA) prototypes. Anduril and General Atomics beat out Boeing, Lockheed Martin, and Northrop Grumman to build and test their drone designs, all the way to production representative aircraft. The two will now compete to determine who gets to build hundreds of ‘loyal wingmen’ drones (decision in 2026).

  • The Merge’s Take: Good on the Air Force for picking non-traditionals for a change. That said, the designs could not be more different. Anduril’s Fury is a low-intake single-tail design clearly optimized for performance; GA’s design is a high-intake V-tail design that looks to be optimized for signature and endurance. GA already has a head start. Its XQ-67A, built as part of the Air Force’s Off-Board Sensing Station (OBSS) program, has already started flying—GA confirmed it’s the prototype for its CCA design. Boeing, Lockheed, and Northrop will remain in the consortium and are likely to bid on Increment 2 of the program, which is reportedly starting later this year. Reminder: this is only the vehicle. The CCA program is one of the first acquisition programs structured to separate the platform from its sensors and autonomy software. No details of those efforts have been made public.


The Marines are getting more remote ground-based, anti-ship missile launchers. Oshkosh Defense received a $40m contract for additional Remotely Operated Ground Unit for Expeditionary Fires (ROGUE Fires). These use Oshkosh’s Joint Light Tactical Vehicle chassis, but instead of a cab or troop compartment, they carry 2 massive missile tubes. The whole thing is referred to as NMESIS (Navy Marine Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System) and shoots Kongsberg’s Naval Strike Missile (NSM).

  • The Merge’s Take: This is a big part of the Marine Corps’ plan to operate and persist inside the first-island chain in a war with China. The combined small footprint, remote operation, shoot-and-scoot tactics, and the ability to attack ships over 100 miles away make this one of the more disruptive programs in the Pentagon. Whoever came up with the acronyms needs a raise.


The US approved a $95B foreign aid package, which includes $60B for Ukraine, $26B for Israel and Gaza, and $8B for Indo-Pacific security needs (including Taiwan). On the heels of this approval, the US announced a $6B long-term military package for Ukraine—the largest to date.  

  • The Merge’s Take: The funding was intentionally large to get ahead of election season—and whatever fallout comes after. Expect this to become highly political in early 2025 when these funds become exhausted. Then again, there is still a chance both conflicts end by then.  


General Atomics partnered with Dillon Aero to mount two of Dillon’s DAP-6 gun pods onto the wings of GA’s Mojave drone and executed a live fire demo.

  • The Merge’s Take: The video depicts the MQ-1/9-style drone doing a strafe pass against a parked truck and is worth the click.

  • The Merge’s Spicy Take: Hollywood magic definitely played a role—the truck explodes instantly like an 80s action movie, with no signs of the 7.62 rounds hitting the target at all. The more we watch it, the more questions we have.

They Said It
“make sure that the programs that are there are interoperable, interchangeable almost, with each other”

— Royal Air Force’s Air Marshal Johnny Stringer, Deputy Commander of NATO Allied Air Command, on NATO’s fighter force modernization and the vision for having NATO countries share parts, maintenance, and even planes. In addition to the US, 12 NATO nations are set to collectively buy over 700 F-35s.

Knowledge Bombs

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F. While the UK is a nuclear power, it does not currently participate in the NATO nuclear-sharing program.