Frugality and the Rise of Autonomous Navies

Categories: technology, governance

What? The U.S. Navy has launched its first unmanned warship, the Sea Hunter. The ship is a 132-foot drone capable of travelling 27 knots. For reference, this is a quarter of the size and a similar speed to the Halifax-class frigates of the Royal Canadian Navy. The Sea Hunter is designed to track next-generation diesel submarines, which are relatively inexpensive and are being used by China and Iran.

So what? Frugal innovation with autonomous systems could reshape modern navies. The U.S. Navy's manned Littoral Combat Ships each cost $440 million. By comparison, the unmanned Sea Drone costs $20 million and could perform a similar range of tasks. Navies are also experimenting with using smaller autonomous crafts as defensive escorts and offensive swarms. These innovations could reduce the cost needed to float an effective navy. Cheaper and unmanned materiel could also lead to more risk-prone and aggressive naval combat.

Source: Defense One - US Christens First Ghost Ship (and the Dawn of the Robotic Navy)

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