Journal of Systems Engineering and Electronics ›› 2023, Vol. 34 ›› Issue (6): 1432-1446.doi: 10.23919/JSEE.2023.000162


A survey on joint-operation application for unmanned swarm formations under a complex confrontation environment

Jialong ZHANG1,2,3(), Kun HAN3(), Pu ZHANG4(), Zhongxi HOU3(), Lei YE3,*   

  1. 1 Unit 63768 of the PLA, Xi’an 710200, China
    2 School of Automation, Northwestern Polytechnical University, Xi’an 710072, China
    3 Test and Training Base, National University of Defense Technology, Xi’an 710100, China
    4 School of Automation and Information Engineering, Xi’an University of Technology, Xi’an 710048, China
  • Received:2022-10-10 Online:2023-12-18 Published:2023-12-29
  • Contact: Lei YE;;;
  • About author:
    ZHANG Jialong was born in 1990. He received his B.E. degree from the North China Institute of Aerospace Engineering, Langfang, China, in 2014, and M.E. degree from the College of Aeronautics and Astronautics Engineering, Air Force Engineering University, Xi’an, China, in 2017, and Ph.D. degree from the School of Automation, Northwestern Polytechnical University, in 2021. He is an assistant research fellow with Xi’an Satellite Control Center, Xi’an, China, in 2022. Currently, he is a postdoctoral fellow with the Test and Training Base, National University of Defense Technology. His main research interests include UAV swarm formation flight control and space situation awareness. E-mail:

    HAN Kun was born in 1983. He received his B.E. and M.E. degrees from Xidian University, in 2004 and 2007, respectively. He is currently working toward his Ph.D. degree at Test and Training Base, National University of Defense Technology in 2010. His main research interests are unmanned system security and multi-intelligence game. E-mail:

    ZHANG Pu was born in 1990. She received her B.E. and M.E. degrees from Xi’an University of Technology, in 2014 and 2017, respectively. She is currently working toward her Ph.D. degree at Northwestern Polytechnical University. In 2021 and 2022, She was a joint Ph.D. student with the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, supported by the China Scholarship Counil. Her main research interests include multiagent systems, fault-tolerant control, distributed control, finite-time control, resilient control, and cyber-physical systems. E-mail:

    HOU Zhongxi was born in 1973. He received his Ph.D. degree in computational fluid dynamics from the National University of Defense Technology, China, in 2000, where he is currently a professor in aeronautical and astronautical science and technology and also an associate dean of the College of Aerospace Science and Engineering. His current research interests include the aircraft conceptual design of high-altitude long-endurance solar-powered unmanned aircraft systems, and hypersonic vehicle design. E-mail:
  • Supported by:
    This work was supported by the Natural Science Basic Research Program of Shaanxi (2023-JC-QN-0075; 2022JM-395).


With the rapid development of informatization, autonomy and intelligence, unmanned swarm formation intelligent operations will become the main combat mode of future wars. Typical unmanned swarm formations such as ground-based directed energy weapon formations, space-based kinetic energy weapon formations, and sea-based carrier-based formations have become the trump card for winning future wars. In a complex confrontation environment, these sophisticated weapon formation systems can precisely strike mobile threat group targets, making them extreme deterrents in joint combat applications. Based on this, first, this paper provides a comprehensive summary of the outstanding advantages, strategic position and combat style of unmanned clusters in joint warfare to highlight their important position in future warfare. Second, a detailed analysis of the technological breakthroughs in four key areas, situational awareness, heterogeneous coordination, mixed combat, and intelligent assessment of typical unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) swarms in joint warfare, is presented. An in-depth analysis of the UAV swarm communication networking operating mechanism during joint warfare is provided to lay the theoretical foundation for subsequent cooperative tracking and control. Then, an in-depth analysis of the shut-in technology requirements of UAV clusters in joint warfare is provided to lay a theoretical foundation for subsequent cooperative tracking control. Finally, the technical requirements of UAV clusters in joint warfare are analysed in depth so the key technologies can form a closed-loop kill chain system and provide theoretical references for the study of intelligent command operations.

Key words: unmanned swarm, operation style, weapon formation system, mobile group target, joint operation