U.S. Navy begins first Manned-Unmanned Naval Capabilities Exercise in the Pacific

(Photo: Sea Hunter, DARPA)

On 19 April the U.S. Navy began its inaugural multi-domain manned and unmanned capabilities exercise, Unmanned Integrated Battle Problem 21 (UxS IBP21), which is being conducted by the Pacific Fleet.

The aim of the exercise is to integrate multi-domain manned and unmanned capabilities into a variety of challenging operational scenarios. This will include maneuvering in contested space across all domains, targeting and fires, and intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance (ISR).

According to the Navy, the unmanned systems taking part will include General Atomics MQ-9 Sea Guardian unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), and the experimental Leidos Sea Hunter and Sea Hawk Medium Displacement Unmanned Surface Vessels, and small and medium Unmanned Undersea Vehicles with modular payloads.

“By exercising our full range of unmanned capabilities in a Pacific warfighting scenario, UxS IBP21 directly supports U.S. Indo-Pacific Command’s warfighting imperative of driving lethality through experimentation,” stated Rear Admiral Robert M. Gaucher, director of maritime headquarters at U.S. Pacific Fleet. “The overall goal is to integrate our unmanned capabilities across all domains to demonstrate how they solve CNO and Fleet Commander Key Operational Problems,” he continued.

The Sea Hunter project, originally undertaken by the U.S. governments Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) through its Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) programme, was transferred to the Office of Naval Research (ONR) in 2018.

by Andrew Drwiega