Could the Navy's Dream of Naval Drone Swarms Come True?

Kris Osborn

Key point: The Navy wants, cheap, but powerful, swarms of drones to do a lot of the fighting in America's future wars.

The US Navy plans to deploy fast, high-tech surface drones equipped with advanced wireless technology able to find, attack and ultimately destroy underwater enemy mines, all while operating at safe distance from a larger manned surface host ship such as a Littoral Combat Ship, service officials said.

Naval Sea Systems Command is currently working with industry to develop, assess and analyze mine-neutralization technologies for its emerging Mine Countermeasures Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MCM USV) - a multi-mission surface drone countermine platform slated to be operational by 2019. Capt. Jon Rucker, Program Manager, Unmanned Maritime Systems, PEO LCS, told reporters recently at the Surface Navy Association Symposium.

“MCM USV will ‘take the man out of the minefield’ when it comes to Navy mine countermeasures operations,” Alan Baribeau, spokesman for Naval Sea Systems Command, told Warrior Maven.

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The current exploration of mine-neutralization technology is happening alongside the ongoing integration of advanced sonar mine-hunting payloads onto the MCM USV – the AQS-20 and AQS-24, Baribeau explained.

Overall, the MCM USV represents the next-iteration of surface-drone technology, extending beyond the mine-detecting Unmanned Influence Sweep System (UISS) now going through testing and builders trails, Rucker said.

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