U.S. Navy Deploys Unmanned Systems to Boost Maritime Operations in Latin America
In a groundbreaking move, the U.S. Navy recently incorporated air and surface drones into its UNITAS 2023 naval exercise in Latin America. This exercise is particularly significant as it marked the first major event since the Navy announced the region’s transformation into its second unmanned operations hub.
The main objective behind utilizing unmanned systems during the exercise was to enhance maritime domain awareness and identify potential issues such as illegal fishing and trafficking. Unmanned aerial systems and surface vessels played a crucial role in providing valuable information to inform UNITAS missions.
During a sinking exercise, the unmanned systems showcased their capabilities by performing important tasks such as surveillance, range clearance, target identification, and battle damage assessment. Their performance demonstrated their versatility and effectiveness in critical naval operations.
The live video feeds from these unmanned systems were streamed to the watch floor in Cartagena, Colombia, and onboard the Peruvian Navy ship Pisco, enabling real-time analysis and decision-making. This demonstrated the Navy’s commitment to harnessing the power of technology to amplify operational efficiency and effectiveness.
It is important to note that the Navy’s focus during the exercise was not solely on experimenting with new unmanned systems. Instead, the emphasis was on operationalizing proven systems through long-term operations at sea. The success of these systems has paved the way for their utilization in upcoming operations and exercises scheduled in the Caribbean and the Eastern Pacific Ocean later this fall.
In a significant departure from traditional practices, the Navy seamlessly integrated unmanned and hybrid systems into its normal battle rhythm during the exercise. This holistic approach aimed to understand how crewed and uncrewed systems can work together to create effective force packages for different missions.
By replicating the success of Task Force 59, which employed over 100 unmanned systems to compile a detailed common operating picture, the Navy aims to leverage artificial intelligence tools to identify problematic activities for targeted interception. The use of the Minotaur mission control system played a vital role in integrating video and data feeds from unmanned vehicles, thereby streamlining operations and enhancing situational awareness.
During UNITAS, the presence of insights and expertise from Task Force 59 and other leadership was invaluable in providing necessary guidance and sharing valuable insights. This collaboration between various units further reinforced the Navy’s commitment to continuous improvement and innovation.
In conclusion, the deployment of unmanned systems during the recent UNITAS 2023 naval exercise highlights the Navy’s determination to improve maritime operations in Latin America and enhance its capabilities in the region. As the Navy continues to explore the synergies between crewed and uncrewed systems, it aims to unlock new possibilities and achieve greater operational excellence in the ever-evolving domain of naval warfare.
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