Navy speeds drones on water to close gap with China – Danbury News Times | Hot Mobile Press

Faced with a growing threat from China, the Navy envisions drone ships electronically keeping tabs on enemy forces across the vast Pacific, extending the range of firepower and dodging sailors.

The Navy is accelerating development of these robotic ships to keep up with China’s growing fleet and vowing not to repeat costly shipbuilding mistakes of recent years.

The four largest drone ships will be deployed together in a multinational naval exercise in the Pacific Ocean this summer.

Other smaller water drones are already being used by the Navy’s 5th Fleet in the waters off the Middle East.

The goal in the coming years is to see how the radar and sensors of these research vessels can be combined with artificial intelligence and integrated with traditional cruisers, destroyers, submarines and aircraft carriers to create a connected fleet that is resilient, because it’s spread out over longer distances and harder for enemies to destroy, the Navy says.

“It’s about advancing the technology and having confidence in the capability. Everything takes time,” said Cmdr. Jeremiah Daley, Commanding Officer of Unmanned Surface Vessel Division One in California.

The Navy believes the technology can help with the three keys to military success — weapons range, reconnaissance, and command and control — at reduced cost and risk to personnel, said James Holmes, a professor at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Iceland .

But all of these benefits, along with long-term durability in a harsh saltwater environment, need to be proven, he said.

“We’re in Jerry Maguire’s show me the money territory with the tech. It will undoubtedly be useful, but whether it will be a game changer is far less clear,” said Holmes, who does not speak for the Navy.

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