Monday, November 5, 2012

Now US Navy is Arming Drone Boats

While the US Air Force's drones have been firing all sorts of air-to-surface missiles and bombs for roughly a decade now, the Navy took a big step toward getting in on the action last week when it launched six Israeli-made Spike missiles from an unmanned 36-foot motorboat, John Reed reports.

The Navy pretty much admits that the project — called the unmanned surface vehicle precision engagement module (USV PEM) — is aimed at defeating threats that are straight out of Iran's war plans for the Persian Gulf region.

"The USV PEM project was developed in response to recent world events which have increased the concern over swarms of small attack craft, as well as threat assessments outlined in recent studies conducted by the Naval Warfare Development Command," said NAVSEA Naval Special Warfare Assistant Program Manager Mark Moses in a press release. "The study punctuates the effectiveness of these swarm attacks against both military re-supply ships and naval vessels. Technology demonstrated in this project can provide a capability to combat terrorists who use small low-cost vehicles as weapons platforms."

How does USV PEM work? During last week's test, a crew in a control station on shore piloted the boat — similar to the way UAVs are controlled — and used its night vision and infrared cameras to find and kill targets using the missiles or a remotely controlled .50 caliber heavy machine gun that's mounted on board.

According to Reed, The project is part of a joint-US-Israeli collaboration run out of the US Navy's sea systems command's Special Warfare Program Office. 

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