US Military Launches Mini-Drones Called Cicadas

July 15, 2015

Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. invent / ɪnˈvɛnt / (v.) – to be the first to develop something
Example: He invented a robot that looked like an insect.

2. intention / ɪnˈtɛn ʃən / (n.) – the purpose of doing something
Example: The scientists’ intention was to have an accurate reading of the weather.

3. surveillance / sərˈveɪ ləns / (n.) – the act of watching someone or something closely but discreetly
Example: We installed hidden cameras for surveillance purposes.

4. swarm / swɔrm / (v.) – to move in big groups
Example: The insects swarmed the streets.

5. tactical / ˈtæk tɪ kəl / (adj.) – referring to plans or strategies related to war or politics
Example:  The country hopes to gain a tactical advantage against its enemies.


Read the text below.
Military scientists from the United States have invented a miniature drone called the CICADA.

The name CICADA is short for Close-in Covert Autonomous Disposable Aircraft. The US military scientists took inspiration from the insect cicada in creating this micro-air vehicle. For several years, the US Navy has been studying the insect, with the intention of developing a device similar to its abilities.

The CICADA was developed to carry out the same tasks as that of other robotic aircraft. However, this drone was made to be smaller, cheaper, and simpler. The CICADA is also virtually silent and can fly as far as 46 miles (74 kilometers) even without any engine.

This micro-air vehicle also has sensors that can give information about the weather, like temperature, air pressure, and humidity in a specific area. It may also function as a tool for surveillance and intelligence-gathering against enemies.

Aside from the CICADA, the US Navy also launched the LOCUST [LOH-kuh st] or the Low-Cost UAV Swarming Technology program. LOCUST is a system that allows the military to launch massive groups of drones in an area. This system uses a launcher that can fire 30 drones all at once. Like the CICADA, this system can also be helpful in surveillance; it can also be used to attack enemies.

A benefit of using the CICADA and the LOCUST is their cheaper production. Unlike very expensive tactical aircraft, these technologies are more affordable and can thus be easily produced in greater numbers.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.  

Discussion A

·         Why do you think the US military is shifting to cheaper and smaller aircraft/drones?
·         How else do you think these technologies can be useful?

Discussion B

·         What technologies does your country’s military use?
·         Does your country spend a lot of money on military technologies? Why?

July 15, 2015