Monday, August 19, 2019

Large Unmanned Surface Vessel: Relax, We're Just Testing a Little

So, we're taking the next step to see what we can do with unmanned surface vessels;
“We’re at the point where we really have to get them out there to start understanding how tough are these things, how robust, and how are they going to integrate with the fleet, what kind of policies are going to surround these systems when you start talking about potentially separating weapons from humans,” Vice Adm. Bill Merz, then deputy chief of naval operations for warfare systems (OPNAV N9), told USNI News in April. 
“So we’re cautious on that side, but we’re very aggressive in getting it out there, so we’re trying to run these parallel paths and illuminate these challenges and start resolving them in parallel.”
You can see the draft request in full here.

It has been curious to watch so many get so overexcited about this - a bit too much science fiction reading, I guess. Perfect example is from the UK. I know it is a tabloid, but a good representation of the heavy breathing in some places about this project. Everyone should slow down their expectations a bit. 1968's view of 2001 was a bit optimistic, as was 1975's view of 1999.

A lot needs to be worked out. My top-3:

1. Operations in a non-permissive EW & SATCOM/NAV environment.
2. Collision avoidance & accountability.
3. Force protection & hijacking prevention.

Big Navy, to my relief, is not overselling this concept. We're investing some significant cheese in the concept - but in a good way. Take some time to review last month's Congressional Research Service report as well.

Build a little, test a little, learn a lot.

It works.

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