Despite ongoing evidence of colossal economic waste and manifest ineptitude by the Pentagon’s network of defense contractors, it isn’t stopping their commitment to spending many more billions of taxpayer money. Moreover, their plans are becoming even more long-range, saddling future generations with even more debt to service.
Their latest brainchild, according to a report in the Washington Post is an undersea network of drones and drone launch “pods” that will cover the 7 seas with patrol and defense capabilities.
Some of this was put on display during the recent military exercise among many of the allied nations known as “Unmanned Warrior 2016” that took place off the Scottish coast. A wide range of autonomous systems were tested, as well as a test of an overall web of communication between land, air, and sea vehicles.
But apparently there is much more to come. Emphasis added….
Despite the immense difficulties, the Navy has been testing and fielding several new systems designed to map the ocean floor, seek out mines, search for submarines and even launch attacks. While the unmanned crafts are now able to stay out for days or weeks, the goal is to create an underwater network of service stations that would allow the vehicles to do their jobs for months — and eventually years.
In 2015, the Navy appointed its first deputy assistant secretary for unmanned systems. And the Pentagon plans to invest as much as $3 billion in undersea systems in the coming years.….
The Office of Naval Research (ONR), which looks to develop advanced technologies, is seeking to “build the Eisenhower highway network on the seabeds in the seven oceans,” Rear Adm. Mathias Winter, head of the office, said at a conference hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies this year. The ultimate goal is to “have large-scale deployments of UUVs,” he said. “We want them to go out for decades at a time.”
As intimated throughout the WaPo article, this is all considered necessary since countries around the world have joined the global drone arms race. In reality, it is a feedback loop that ensures ongoing potential conflict, as well as guaranteed income for the military-industrial complex.
Here are just a few of the specific systems that the Washington Post highlights as being in the pipeline:
- (S)ervice stations underwater, similar to highway rest stops. “A place where you can gas up or charge your underwater vehicles, transfer data and maybe store some data,” said Frank Herr, the head of the ONR’s ocean battlespace sensing department.
- From General Dynamics: 16-foot-long Bluefin-21 vehicle is capable of launching what the company calls “micro UUVs,” known as SandSharks, that weigh only about 15 pounds. The SandSharks could scan an enemy shoreline and pop up to the surface to relay data to aircraft flying overhead. The Bluefin-21 could even launch a tube that goes to the surface, sticks up like a large straw and then shoots out an unmanned aerial vehicle like a spitball.
- (DARPA) has a plan to plant 15-foot-tall pods across the ocean floor that could sit there for years waiting to be awakened. When they received a signal, they would float to the surface and release aerial drones, which could perform surveillance over shorelines.
- Raytheon … is working on a torpedo that instead of blowing things up would be the military’s eyes and ears underwater, scouting for mines or enemy submarines, mapping the ocean floor and measuring currents.
Below are just some of the videos that reveal what is currently available to roam the seas, and what is scheduled for further development.
Given the massive investment undertaken on the backs of U.S. citizens, and given the scope of the threat from autonomous systems of war that continues to be warned about, one is left only to wonder which is the better outcome – success or failure. It also remains to be seen what other nations will have to say about the U.S. openly stating its plan to dominate all of the oceans on planet Earth.
Main article source: Washington Post, “Drone warfare heads under the seas as U.S. seeks advantage over rivals”
Image Credit: Anthony Freda Art