UK Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson has announced plans to develop swarm squadrons of network-enabled drones that can ‘confuse’ the enemy and ‘overwhelm’ their air defences.

The project will be supported by the government’s Transformation Fund, which assists in the development of military technology.

The drones are expected to be ready for deployment by the end of this year.

The plan was unveiled in a speech at defence think tank the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI).

In his speech, Williamson focused on strengthening the UK’s role in the world in a post-Brexit scenario.

“The UK is also upgrading its E-3D airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft to bolster its battle-winning airborne command and control.”

He stressed on the need to enhance the Armed Forces’ global presence and lethality, as well as called for greater intervention in global crises.

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The defence secretary also revealed that the operational Typhoon squadrons would be increased from five to seven.

These squadrons are to be equipped with radar and upgraded deep strike Storm Shadow cruise missiles. The move follows the recent retirement of the Tornado jet.

Other plans include inducting nine new Poseidon P-8 maritime patrol aircraft to support ocean-patrolling activities and boost the anti-submarine and maritime capability.

The UK is also upgrading its E-3D airborne warning and control system (AWACS) aircraft to bolster its battle-winning airborne command and control.

To help increase the lethality of the forces, the government seeks to ensure ground troops in the Army, the Royal Marines or the RAF Regiment are provided with the same night-vision equipment used by Special Forces.

Williamson also called for the UK to offer resistance to Russia’s non-compliance with the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty and prepare to deal with the potential threat of new Russian missile systems.