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Naval Warfare Expanding to Drones

Naval Warfare Expanding to Drones

Naval Warfare Drones

On October 3, 2023, the United States Navy (USN) submitted a Request for Information (RFI) to drone producers, inquiring about the existence or potential development of drone launch and recovery systems compatible with non-carrier warships. This initiative is aimed at determining whether private defense sectors can provide such systems and if they are appropriate for the USN’s purposes. Information obtained from the RFI responses will also inform the Navy about any existing Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE) for drone-focused operations.

This move by the USN signifies the increasing importance of drone technology in modern naval warfare, as well as the need for flexible and versatile launching capabilities from various warship classes. By expanding drone utilizations across more of their fleet, the Navy aims to enhance their combat readiness, situational awareness, and response capabilities in challenging operational environments.

Current Testing of Specialized Combat Systems

At present, the USN is testing specialized combat systems, such as the Ghost Fleet Overlord’s unmanned surface vessels and the KQ-58 Valkyrie. Following the completion of these tests and system finalization, full operational deployment is anticipated in the coming years. These innovative systems aim to enhance the capabilities of the military by providing increased autonomy and surveillance in varied combat situations. With the successful integration of such advanced technologies, the USN would further solidify its position as a powerful and agile force capable of facing emerging threats and swiftly responding to evolving warfare strategies.

Maritime Utilization of Inexpensive Unmanned Aerial Vehicles

Other countries, like Russia and Ukraine, are also investigating the maritime utilization of inexpensive, standard unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). These commercial drones are expendable and function as a force multiplier for various tasks. The US Navy’s RFI seeks information on ALREs that can launch and retrieve reusable “Group 3-5 UAVs” from non-carrier vessel sea platforms. Incorporating these ALREs into non-carrier vessels has the potential to drastically increase a naval unit’s situational awareness and defense capabilities. By utilizing cost-effective, reusable UAVs, navies can conduct reconnaissance and monitor large areas of open sea without risking lives or investing in expensive manned aircraft.

Cost-Effective Drones for Crucial Battlefield Roles

These cost-effective drones can perform crucial roles on the battlefield, such as intelligence gathering, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR), light logistics, and even attack missions. Equipping all combatant vessels in a carrier battle group with these drones would add valuable capabilities without consuming carrier deck space. Integrating these drones into the naval fleet will enhance real-time decision-making by providing high-quality data and improving situational awareness for commanders. Additionally, their versatile nature allows for rapid adjustments to tactics and strategy during combat, enabling more efficient and effective operations.

Feasibility of ALRE Systems for Multiple Drone Operations

The ALRE approach should enable the rapid launching and recovering of numerous UAVs. The feasibility of using ALRE systems to operate multiple drones from different manufacturers remains unclear, as it might necessitate standardization across the US defense industry. However, with continued research and collaboration between manufacturers, it is possible to achieve a level of interoperability that could effectively revolutionize the military drone landscape. The success of the ALRE system has the potential to greatly enhance the efficiency and adaptability of UAV deployment in various mission scenarios.

Engaging China and Ensuring Regional Stability

The USN’s primary focus is on engaging China, particularly in addressing China’s long-range missile-enabled anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) capabilities. The USN aims to ensure regional stability and freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific region, especially in the South China Sea. This involves strengthening its naval presence and enhancing cooperation with regional partners to counterbalance China’s growing military power and assertiveness in the area.

Additional Concepts to Strengthen USN Capabilities

Additional concepts that are part of the ongoing effort to strengthen USN capabilities include the US Marine Corps Force Design 2030, the US Navy’s Distributed Maritime Operations, and the US Pacific Fleet. These strategies aim to enhance the effectiveness of maritime forces by focusing on integration, innovation, and adaptability in an increasingly complex and contested global environment. As potential threats and challenges continue to evolve, the implementation of these forward-thinking concepts will be integral to ensuring the safety of US interests and maintaining a sustainable deterrent presence in the Pacific region.

FAQ

What is the purpose of the US Navy’s Request for Information on drone launch and recovery systems?

The purpose of the request is to explore the existence or potential development of drone launch and recovery systems compatible with non-carrier warships. This information will help the Navy determine if private defense sectors can provide such systems and if they are suitable for their needs. Additionally, it will inform the Navy about any existing Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE) for drone-focused operations.

Why is drone technology important in modern naval warfare?

Drone technology is crucial in modern naval warfare as it provides flexible and versatile launching capabilities across various warship classes. Integrating drones into naval fleets can enhance combat readiness, situational awareness, and response capabilities in challenging operational environments.

What are some examples of current specialized combat systems being tested by the US Navy?

Examples include the Ghost Fleet Overlord’s unmanned surface vessels and the KQ-58 Valkyrie. These systems aim to provide increased autonomy and surveillance in various combat situations, enhancing the military’s capabilities and agility in responding to emerging threats and evolving warfare strategies.

Why are cost-effective drones essential for battlefield roles?

Cost-effective drones can perform crucial roles such as intelligence gathering, surveillance, reconnaissance, light logistics, and attack missions. Equipping combatant vessels with these drones adds valuable capabilities without consuming carrier deck space and enhances real-time decision-making by providing high-quality data and improving situational awareness for commanders.

What challenges might the Navy face in integrating ALRE systems for multiple drone operations?

One challenge is the potential need for standardization across the US defense industry to operate multiple drones from different manufacturers. Achieving a level of interoperability between manufacturers can revolutionize the military drone landscape and greatly enhance the efficiency and adaptability of UAV deployment in various mission scenarios.

How is the US Navy engaging China and ensuring regional stability?

The US Navy is focusing on addressing China’s long-range missile-enabled anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) capabilities and ensuring regional stability and freedom of navigation in the Indo-Pacific region. This involves strengthening its naval presence and enhancing cooperation with regional partners to counterbalance China’s growing military power and assertiveness in the area.

What additional concepts are being implemented to strengthen US Navy capabilities?

Additional concepts include the US Marine Corps Force Design 2030, the US Navy’s Distributed Maritime Operations, and the US Pacific Fleet. These strategies focus on integration, innovation, and adaptability in an increasingly complex and contested global environment, ensuring the safety of US interests and maintaining a sustainable deterrent presence in the Pacific region.

First Reported on: eurasiantimes.com
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Pok Rie; Pexels; Thank you!

Lila Anderson

Lila is a skilled SaaS writer who combines her love for technology and storytelling to create compelling content. With her words, she navigates the complex world of software-as-a-service, making it accessible and engaging for readers. Fun fact: Lila owns a hot air balloon company.
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