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Showing posts from October 28, 2012

U.S. CNO Makes Unmanned Systems a Priority

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In a nod to maritime tradition, the new Chief of Naval Operations set forth a "Navigation Plan" with budgetary priorities and a route to achieve the vision he set in the "Sailing Directions" for 2013-2017.  Admiral Greenert's prioritization of unmanned systems for the U.S. fleet in these documents is anything but archaic.  Seven of the CNO's 34 budget focus areas directly address unmanned systems, including: "Increase near-term mine warfare capability with Quickstrike mines; the Seafox Mine Neutralization System; upgraded MCM-1 class ship sonar, hull, and engineering upgrades; and Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUV) for shallow and bottom mine detection. Improve near-term capability to counter fast attack craft by fielding enhanced gun and surface-to-surface missile systems for Patrol Coastal (PC) ships and Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) and laser-guided rockets for helicopters and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV). Move new platforms under development and con…

Armed USVs: A Deeper Dive

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The U.S. Navy's recent testing of a Protector unmanned surface vessel with the Precision Engagement Module (PEM) weapons system warrants deeper analysis than provided by news reporting.  The project is sponsored by the Chief of Naval Operation's Expeditionary Warfare Division (N95) and the Naval Sea Systems Command's Naval Special Warfare Program Office.  To understand the ramifications of this testing, it's worthwhile to elaborate a bit on the components that make up the PEM:
Protector USV - The U.S. Navy's Protector is a joint development between Israel's Rafael, BAE Systems, and Lockeed Martin.  Originally conceived as a platform for force protection and port security, the 11 meter vessel's new armament opens up a range of possibilities for future employment (discussed below).  Much like a UAV, the Protector requires two operators based ashore or at at sea; one to drive the vessel and the other to operate the sensors and armament.

Toplite EOS -The Protect…