The MANTAS T6 and T12 operating together during S2ME2. (U.S. Navy)
One of the most rapidly growing areas of innovative technology adoption by the U.S. military involves unmanned systems (UxS). The expanding use of military UxS is creating strategic, operational, and tactical possibilities that did not exist a decade ago.1 In the highest level U.S. policy and strategy documents, unmanned systems are featured as an important part of the way the joint force will fight in the future.
But because urgent operational needs in Iraq and Afghanistan demanded development of unmanned air and ground vehicles, they have accounted for the lion’s share of defense funding for unmanned systems, while funding for unmanned maritime systems (surface and subsurface) has lagged. This is especially true for the U.S. Navy, where platforms such as the MQ-25 Stingray, MQ-4C Triton, MQ-8B/C Fire Scout, and other, smaller, unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) are the programs of record.