Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Unmanned Vehicles Transforming US Naval Warfare

DAHLGREN, Va. (Nov. 20, 2008) A Scan Eagle unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) launches from the Navy Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Dahlgren test range. Officials from the Office of Naval Research (ONR), Naval Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC) and various other military commands used the test launch to confirm the Navy Expeditionary Overwatch (NEO) system's ability to deploy a UAV to successfully to detect and engage fictional insurgents. NEO is the collection, integration and demonstration of manned and unmanned engagement systems, platforms, and integrated sensors to enable tactical decision making by agile expeditionary units such as NECC, Special Operations Command and the Marine Corps who conduct distributed operations in both ground and littoral environments. (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams.)

HAMPTON, Va. (Jan. 14, 2009) The Navy, in conjunction with the Spatial Integrated Systems Incorporated, holds a demonstration of a fully autonomous unmanned surface vehicle (USV) at Fort Monroe. A harbor patrol scenario depicts how the USV uses its autonomous maritime navigation systems to patrol and scan designated areas for intruders using onboard sensors and obstacle avoidance software in order to carry out its mission and report back its findings to a command center. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Apprentice Joshua Adam Nuzzo.)

MAYPORT, Fla. (Dec. 10, 2008) The guided-missile frigate USS McInerney (FFG 8) embarks an MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned air vehicle. This is the first time a Fire Scout has deployed with the U.S. Navy ship. Fire Scout will assist McInerney during its next counter illicit trafficking deployment to Latin America. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Holly Boynton.)

Focus on Defense:

PEARL HARBOR, Feb 3, 2009 -- Unmanned vehicles, especially a new generation of highly technical machines, are proving themselves in hostile environments, according to the commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, in his Rat-Pac Report podcast posted Feb. 4.

Remotely controlled aerial, surface and underwater unmanned vehicles (UAVs, USVs and UUVs), which reduce risk to Sailors and other operators, are part of the Navy's arsenal and "continue to prove themselves in the Middle East," said Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Adm. Robert F. Willard.

"We're witnessing the birth of a whole new generation of unmanned vehicles across all the domain," he added.

Willard, an F-14 aviator, has served as a leader in a variety of fighter squadrons and aircraft carriers. He was operations officer and executive officer of Navy Fighter Weapons School.

"As a pilot, I've watched the evolution of unmanned aerial vehicles with great interest. While some would maintain that they threaten a pilot's existence – the future may hold a time when aircraft are inherently unmanned in performing their duties remotely – the fact is that we see it a little differently. We see environments where unmanned vehicles have a great advantage over a manned vehicle," Willard said.

"When you think about it, there are times when unmanned vehicles may be more affordable and simpler and still meet our needs, and therefore obviate a necessity for manned platforms."

Willard advises Sailors to learn more about unmanned vehicles when they have the opportunity.

"Undoubtedly, many of us that are in technical roles in the Navy will come in contact with unmanned vehicles that are either servicing our needs in gathering intelligence and supplying information in conducting research, or we'll be operating them ourselves," he said.

"I think UAVs, UUVs, USVs, all the family of unmanned vehicles, are here to stay and here to continually evolve to help us perform our missions across the Navy."

To hear Willard's podcast, visit: http://www.cpf.navy.mil/.

Willard became the Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet on May 8, 2007. He is responsible for the world's largest fleet command, encompassing 100 million square miles and approximately 178 ships, 1,500 aircraft and 160,000 Sailors, Marines and civilians.

(Report by Bill Doughty, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs.)

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