HomeInternational GeopoliticsUS Navy Hunts For "Hunter Drones" That Can Operate From Non-Carrier Warships...

US Navy Hunts For “Hunter Drones” That Can Operate From Non-Carrier Warships & Breach Enemy Defenses

The US Navy (USN) wants to operate various drones from warships, a concept that is now a standard for reconnaissance and attack operations, just like helicopters. The USN has issued a Request for Information (RFI) seeking drone manufacturers to provide details of their launch and recovery systems.

The notice by the US government is not a procurement program through competitive bidding that involves purchasing the drones after shortlisting companies following technical evaluations and the lowest commercial bids.

It is trying to find out if a system like this is available or can be developed by the private defense industrial base. Also, it wants to know if it is suitable for the intended purpose of the USN.

The RFI responses would also inform the navy if the drone and aerospace companies have also developed any kind of Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment (ALRE) for drone-centric doctrinal thinking and concept of operations (CONOPS).

The USN is already experimenting with dedicated combat and frontline systems like the Ghost Fleet Overlord (GFO)’s unmanned surface vessels (USV) or the KQ-58 Valkyrie. 

Once their employment’s technical and conceptual parameters are finalized during testing, their operationalization is sure to happen over the next few years. However, possessing regular, low-cost UAVs tweaked for maritime use is a concept shared by Russia and Ukraine in ordinary, off-the-shelf commercial drones that are expendable and act as a force multiplier for various tasks.       

US Navy’s Market Enquiry

The RFI directly reflected that the USN was interested in ALREs that could launch “fixed-wing, low-cost and reusable/attritable…Group 3-5 UAVs that would operate off non-carrier vessel sea platforms.” As per an emerging military thinking spurred by the war in Ukraine, the capability to sustain significant equipment losses that can still be acceptable can only be attained by such cheap, mass-manufactured drones.

Drone swarms
Drone swarms/Representational Image

Available in large numbers, they can be dispensable than larger capital weapons like aircraft carriers, destroyers, submarines, or fighter jets, which cost billions of dollars along with human casualties. But they nevertheless perform vital battlefield tasks such as basic intelligence-surveillance-reconnaissance (ISR), light logistics, and even kamikaze attack roles. 

All combatant ships in a carrier battle group having such drones is an added capability that can come in handy for various combat and combat-support roles without taking up the deck space on the carrier. 

This is where the role of the ALRE comes into play, where it is expected to be able to launch drones between the Group 3 and Group 5 classes. Group 3 UAVs weigh between 25 and 598 kg and fly under 463 km an hour at 18,000 feet. Group 5 category drones can reach nearly a ton in weight and have more than 18,000-foot ceilings. 

The ships it lists as “potentially relevant Air Capable Ships (ACS)” are the navy’s Expeditionary Sea Base (ESB), destroyer (DDG), amphibious transport dock/landing platform dock (LPD), or a new ship class “with flight deck sizes approximately 50-200 feet long and 40-100 feet wide.”  

But like an aircraft carrier, the ALRE concept should also be able to “launch/recover a large number of UAVs in a short amount of time,” indicating a swarm capability. It is unclear if the ALRE will be able to operate different drones developed by other manufacturers. If that is the case, it would require standardization across various American defense majors. But that would also depend on the launch and recovery system type, i.e., catapult or rocket-assisted take-off. 

File Image: Aircraft assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2 and CVW 9 fly over the Philippine Sea on Jan. 22, 2022. Operating as part of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, units assigned to Carl Vinson and Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Groups, Essex and America Amphibious Ready Groups, and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force. US Navy Photo

China On Mind

The USN would be the leading service in a war against China, especially if it expects to be able to fight under its long-range missile-enabled anti-access/area-denial (A2/AD) bubble.

A series of other CONOPS like the US Marine Corps (USMC) Force Design 2030, the US Navy’s Distributed Maritime Operations (DMO), and the US Air Force (USAF) Rapid Dragon are geared towards breaching the formidable defensive layer built by Beijing. 

Having regular warships that can launch and recover a variety of drones offers tremendous flexibility to naval commanders besides just surveillance and attack. It is plausible to imagine the drones being used as decoys to draw away other enemy drone swarms and missiles if current CONOPS develop in harmony. 

For instance, the USN might use the GFO USVs like the Mariner and Ranger to carry such ALREs. This is, assuming companies need to possess or can develop the ALREs that can fit on existing Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, which might continue to serve well into the next decade and a half.  

Source link



Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Aatmanirbhar Bharat


Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems: India can be a hub for making submarines in the APAC region, says Thyssenkrupp exec

India can be a submarine-making hub in the Asia Pacific region, said a top executive at Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems (TKMS), which claims to be...

DRDO: Made in India Netra, Pinaka Systems attract European, Southeast Asian interest

At the Eurosatory 2024 Defence Show in Paris, India's indigenous military technologies, including the Netra airborne early warning and control aircraft and the Pinaka...

AMCA 5th Generation Stealth Fighter Updates

AMCA to be integrated with sophisticated indigenous Distributed Aperture System (DAS) that making it a formidable air asset for the Indian Air Force

Source : IgMp Bureau India’s Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA) is on the brink of a revolutionary transformation with the integration of a sophisticated Distributed...

AMCA to incorporate the best features of both 5th and 6th Generation fighters: ADA sources

Source : IgMp Bureau India's strides toward indigenous air dominance receive a substantial boost with the green signal for the Advanced Medium Combat Aircraft (AMCA)...

Most Popular

Recent Comments

Archive Months


Kalyani group delivers first batch of Kalyani M4 vehicle to the Indian Army : Larger order soon

Source : IgMp BureauIndian Army Kalyani M4 Mine Protected High Mobility VehicleThe Bharat Forge Kalyani group or Kalyani Strategic Systems Ltd has announced that...

BDL signs MoU with Dassault Aviation to integrate Astra BVRAAM & SAAW missiles on IAF’s Rafale jets

Source : Indian Defence NewsRepresentative ImageBharat Dynamics today signed an MoU with French Dassault Aviation for the integration of BDL Weapon Systems like Astra...

Kalyani Rafael Advanced Systems (KRAS) bags Rs 287.51 crore order to supply missile systems

Source : PTI/Business Standard Kalyani Rafael Advanced Systems (KRAS) bags Rs 287.51 crore order to supply missile systems New Delhi: Kalyani Rafael Advanced Systems Pvt Ltd...
error: Content is protected !!