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US Navy secretary touts unmanned operations for ‘UNITAS' exercise

The US Navy will be operating unmanned platforms such as Wave Glider during the ‘UNITAS' exercise. (Liquid Robotics)

US Navy (USN) Secretary Carlos Del Toro emphasised the potential for unmanned systems during the ‘UNITAS' exercise in his keynote speech on 12 July in Cartagena, Colombia.

“As we look for new ways to counter both narcotics smuggling and Illegal, Unreported, and Unregulated Fishing, this year's iteration of UNITAS will include several opportunities to experiment with unmanned systems,” Del Toro said.

“Unmanned systems – above, at, and below the sea – as well as artificial intelligence tools will help us improve our collective maritime domain awareness,” Del Toro said.

The USN's 4th Fleet, commanded by Rear Admiral James Aiken, is leading the USN's efforts to integrate unmanned platforms into navy forces throughout the Western Hemisphere through its Unmanned Integration Campaign, Del Toro noted.

The overall objective of the USN's Unmanned Integration Campaign is to scale unmanned platforms to the fleet level while developing tactics, techniques, and procedures resulting in the navy's hybrid manned-unmanned fleet of the 2030s, USN officials said.

“We look forward to working with all of you as a part of this effort, and I am excited to see how this year's exercise will inform our future approaches to leveraging unmanned technologies and platforms,” he said.

During its transit to participate in ‘UNITAS' the expeditionary fast transport ship USNS Burlington (T-EPF 10) successfully launched a Wave Glider unmanned surface vehicle (USV) on 30 June, USN officials acknowledged.

Sailors partnered with Military Sealift Command civilian mariners and civilian contractors to launch the USV, USN officials said.

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