The US Navy robo war effort is moving forward

Real Clear Defense:
The Navy this week put on a two-day show that offered a peek into the future of high-tech combat. And the most important players happened to be robots.

At the 2017 advanced naval technology exercise, or ANTX, the Navy let the drones loose, hoping to demonstrate that robots have reached the point where they can be trusted to help protect ships, spy on enemy submarines and ward off aerial missile attacks.

The Navy’s push to turn more combat missions over to robots started years ago and is gaining new momentum as technology advances and leaders advocate for it. Newly sworn-in Navy Secretary Richard Spencer came out as a major proponent. “I think unmanned — both below the water, on the water and in the air — is an area we are just beginning to chip away at,” he told lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

At the tech demonstration that concluded on Wednesday, 24 events featured unmanned systems, said Jessica Shaffer, ANTX technical lead. They included a mix of drone aircraft, autonomous surface ships, mini-submarines and ground-based robots. The systems were deployed at multiple sites, including the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, R.I., the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Panama City, Fla., the Submarine Development Group Five in Keyport, Wash., and the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Unit One in Panama City.
There is a sense of urgency behind all this. Navy strategists increasingly worry about forces fighting in “contested environments.” That is military-speak for heavily defended areas where enemies would deploy anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles, tactical aircraft, submarines in open-ocean and coastal waters, and lay down mines and other deadly explosives in shallow waters.

In such situations, U.S. forces would have limited freedom of movement and, conceivably, they would turn to robotic systems for help — to collect and disseminate intelligence, and coordinate movements between autonomous undersea, surface, and air platforms and their operators.
There is more.

The Navy appears to be a leader in this effort among US defense elements.  It also appears to be well ahead of potential adversaries when it comes to this type of warfare.


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