HomeTechnologyArtificial intelligenceThree weeks, 15 unmanned systems: Navy launches 'Digital Horizon' exercise in Middle...

Three weeks, 15 unmanned systems: Navy launches ‘Digital Horizon’ exercise in Middle East

Several unmanned systems are on display in Manama, Bahrain, Nov. 19, ahead of the Digital Horizon 2022 exercise. (US Army photo by Sergeant Brandon Murphy)

WASHINGTON — The U.S. Navy is today launching a three-week event in the Middle East focused on the use of artificial intelligence and 15 different unmanned systems, many of which will operate in the region for the first time.

Called Digital Horizon, the event is hosted by Task Force 59, a group created in September 2021 by US 5th Fleet tasked with experimenting with how the service can integrate unmanned systems into operations. Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, the officer who directs the 5th Fleet and oversees the task force, has said he aims to 100 unmanned surface craft active in the region next summer. The exercise in its current form has taken place at least once before in December 2021.

“By leveraging these new unmanned technologies and combining them with artificial intelligence, we will improve regional maritime security and strengthen deterrence,” Cooper said in a Navy statement on Digital Horizon.

At this year’s exercise, 17 companies will collectively bring 15 “various types of unmanned systems, 10 of which will work with the U.S. 5th Fleet for the first time,” the Navy statement said.

Participating systems include Aerovel’s Flexrotor and Shield AI’s V-BAT unmanned aerial vehicles as well as Elbit Systems Seagull, MARATC’s T-38 Devil Ray and Saildrone’s Explorer unmanned surface craft.

That last USV became a point of international contention earlier this year Iranian army and paramilitary forces temporarily pulled some US Saildrones out of the water, accusing the US Navy of abandoning the “spy” vehicles.

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After both incidents, a US Navy spokesman rejected Iran’s claims, saying the Saildrones maintained appropriate distances from other ships and were unarmed and taking unclassified photos of the surrounding area. The service was eventually able to retrieve the drones.

In addition to contributing vehicles, several companies involved in the exercise will also use artificial intelligence and data analytics systems.

“Industry partners Accenture Federal Services and Big Bear AI will also use data integration and artificial intelligence systems at the event, and Silvus Technologies will provide radio communications as an Ocius unmanned surface vessel competes off the coast of Western Australia. the Navy statement said.

Captain Michael Brasseur, Commander of Task Force 59, added that industry is working with the agency in “one of the most difficult operational environments…I am extremely proud of the entire team, including our many partners in government, academic world and industry for their commitment to Digital Horizon as we explore new opportunities together.”

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