Surface Navy 2022: Tactical focus driving AI development
12 January 2022
by Carlo Munoz
SCO's Ghost Fleet Overlord unmanned surface vehicles, NOMAD & RANGER, conduct underway operations off the coast of California in 2021. After transiting to the West Coast, almost entirely in autonomous mode, the vessels will continue fleet experimentation before transitioning to the navy in early 2022. (US Navy)
US Navy (USN) leaders are looking to leverage advanced technological capabilities in artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) in the tactical and operational realm, with combat requirements in those areas driving much of the research and development efforts for those technologies.
“It [has] already helped us in [fleet] readiness [because] it is predictive,” US Navy Vice Admiral Roy Kitchener, commander of both the Naval Surface Forces and the Naval Surface Force, US Pacific Fleet, told reporters on 7 January, about the development of AI and ML capabilities within the service. His comments came during a media roundtable prior to the Surface Navy Association National Symposium, which began on 11 January in Arlington, Virginia.
A Spanish Eurofighter combat aircraft carrying a pair of Meteor missiles on its underfuselage weapon stations. (Spanish Air Force)
The Spanish Air Force (Ejército del Aire Espanol: EdAE) has begun flight operations of the Eurofighter Typhoon combat aircraft armed with the MBDA Meteor beyond-visual-range air-to-air missile (BVRAAM), the service announced on 15 January.
According to the service's official Twitter account, a Eurofighter (designated C.16 in national service) flew operationally for the first time with the Meteor missile on 14 January.
“Yesterday, a Eurofighter of the Ala 14 [No. 14 Wing] of the EdAE carried out, for the first time, its mission equipped with a Meteor missile,” the post said, adding that the milestone followed installation of the Phase 2 Enhancements B (P2Eb) software enhancement performed on the aircraft of Ala 14.
The Japanese Ministry of Defense said the North Korean missiles launched on 17 January from Pyongyang fell near the east coast of North Korea, outside of Japan's exclusive economic zone. (Japanese MoD – https://www.mod.go.jp/j/press/news/2022/01/17b.html)
North Korea launched two more missiles on 17 January, the latest in a series of similar drills since the beginning of 2022. Janes assesses that the new launches featured a version of the KN-24 short-range ballistic missile (SRBM).
Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said the two “tactical guided missiles” were fired from the “western region of our country [and] hit an island target in the East Sea of Korea with precision”. The East Sea of Korea is also known as the Sea of Japan or East Sea.
KCNA added, “The inspection [and] firing test was conducted for the purpose of selectively inspecting the tactical guided missiles being produced and verifying the accuracy of the weapon system.
“The Academy of Defence Science has confirmed the accuracy, safety, and operational effectiveness of this weapon system being produced.”
The Philippines is to acquire a further 32 Black Hawk helicopters to add to the 16 received. (Lockheed Martin)
The Philippines is to order 32 additional Lockheed Martin S-70i Black Hawk utility helicopters to add to the 16 already acquired (of which one was recently lost in an accident).
Secretary of National Defense Delfin Lorenzana said on 16 January that the country's recent disaster relief experiences have underscored the need to replace the armed forces' ageing Bell UH-1 ‘Huey' helicopters with more Black Hawks.
“The lack of transport planes and helicopters have never been more acute during the [Covid-19] pandemic and in the aftermath of Typhoon Odette. This was exacerbated by our ageing Hueys that have become uneconomical to maintain. The brand new Black Hawks bore the brunt of the work during these critical times,” Lorenzana said. “Upon the instruction of the president, we are procuring additional 32 brand new S-70i Black Hawk helicopters,” he added.
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