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US Navy looks to change unmanned narrative

After being rebuffed by the US Congress in efforts to shift large-scale funding for greater development of unmanned platforms and systems in recent budget proposals, the US Navy (USN) released its ‘Unmanned Campaign Framework’ report on 16 March through which the service seeks to better explain and map out its unmanned ambitions.

“We are mindful of past shortcomings, therefore our approach is deliberate, but with a sense of urgency,” Admiral Michael Gilday, chief of naval operations, said in the report.

During a media briefing about the report on the day of its release, USN officials stressed that they did not see unmanned development as a competition between those resources and manned resources. Instead, the USN is looking to augment manned operations with unmanned capabilities.

The unmanned plans are in response to combatant commander needs, the officials said.

“We don’t get pushback from commanders,” Lieutenant General Smith, US Marine Corps (USMC) deputy commandant for Combat Development and Integration, said during the briefing. “We don’t get pushback from programme managers. We don’t see an issue of ‘you took my money from me to give to him’.”

However, the money must be provided by Congress, he noted. “You can’t get Congress to fund an idea. They fund a programme. We have to explain what the capabilities are. What the Unmanned Campaign does – it explains the idea.”

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