U.S. NAVY TEST-FIRES MISSILES FROM ROBOT BOATS

Fox News on November 3, 2012, published a TechNewsDaily report on U.S. Navy ships facing the growing threat of small boat swarms used by terrorists, pirates or enemy countries. New testing has shown off a possible counter that looks strangely similar except for the lack of human sailors — small robot boats armed with missiles. Excerpts below:

The Navy launched six missiles from an unmanned surface boat — called the unmanned surface vessel precision engagement module (USV PEM) — during testing on October 24. The 36-foot carries both missiles and a .50 caliber machine gun that can take on small boats that may threaten larger Navy warships. Excerpts below:

“Technology demonstrated in this project can provide a capability to combat terrorists who use small low-cost vehicles as weapons platforms,” said Mark Moses, assistant program manager for NAVSEA Naval Special Warfare.

The U.S. Navy has previously tried a number of possible defenses against boat swarms, including helicopters armed with homing rockets and shipboard defense turrets that use both lasers and machine guns.

…the latest test using the Navy’s unmanned boat also represents part of a large shift to using robot ships, submarines and flying drones. The Navy has begun experimenting with small drones that could launch from submarine trash disposal chutes along with its large X-47B drone designed to take off from the decks of aircraft carriers.

In the unmanned boat test, Navy operators remotely controlled both the boat and its weapons while launching missiles at moving targets as far away as 2 miles. The Spike missiles, made by the defense company Rafael, represent anti-armor weapons that use electro-optic and infrared sensors to identify targets.

The testing came as part of a joint counterterrorism project between Israel and the U.S. Navy under the Chief of Naval Operation’s Expeditionary Warfare Division and the Naval Sea Systems Command’s Naval Special Warfare Program Office.

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