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US 5th Fleet launches creates task force to integrate unmanned systems

The USN operated a Vanilla ultra-endurance, land-launched, unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) during UxS IBP. The US 5th Fleet is creating a task force to integrate umanned systems with operations. (US Navy)

US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) established a new task force, designated Task Force 59, to “rapidly integrate unmanned systems and artificial intelligence (AI) with maritime operations in the 5th Fleet area of operations”, command officials confirmed on 9 September.

Task Force 59 is the first US Navy (USN) task force of its kind, command officials noted.

The desire to integrate unmanned equipment, systems, and platforms with manned USN forces is an ongoing USN effort that has ramped up this year.

In trying to prove to Congress that unmanned systems can be operationalised and are worth the immediate investment the USN wants to make in the technology – at the expense of other traditional acquisitions – service officials conducted the navy's first-ever fleet exercise involving unmanned systems in April.

During that exercise, the USN created three separate “vignettes” to team and test the operational effectiveness of manned and unmanned systems during for the US Pacific Fleet's ‘Unmanned Integrated Battle Problem (UxS IBP) 21' off the California coast, said Rear Admiral James Aiken, tactical commander for the eight-day exercise that ended on 26 April.

The USN also publicly released its official Unmanned Campaign Framework plan on 17 March.

However, “The US 5th Fleet region's unique geography, climate, and strategic importance offer an ideal environment for [unmanned] innovation,” NAVCENT said in a statement.

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