DARPA Wants to Accelerate Navy Robotic Ship Technology by a Decade

The US Navy needs to deliver robotic combat ships with conservative technologies that will work but DARPA programs can try to use risky technology. DARPA wants to integrate risky technology projects to accelerate the US Navy’s capabilities.

Maintaining separate lines of effort is important because DARPA has the freedom to fail whereas failure in an acquisition program has higher stakes.

The current backbone of the US Navy are Arleigh Burke Destroyers that are $2 billion ships wrapped around 96 missile tubes.

The US Navy will shrink from 102 large ships to about 70-80 by 2048 unless they can make lower cost but capable unmanned ships or determine how to make large ships more affordable.

Written By Brian Wang, Nextbigfuture.com

6 thoughts on “DARPA Wants to Accelerate Navy Robotic Ship Technology by a Decade”

  1. If you stop protecting the world’s shipping you don’t need as many ships. Don’t worry, they’ll keep the carrier battle groups … most of them anyway. You still need to be able to travel globally and hit people with big sticks.

  2. Manned warships have damage control capabilities that cargo ships and now drones simply won’t have. Or will have to be built in at great expense.

    Drones won’t be real warships, but rather autonomous, disposable weapons and sensor platforms.

    I can certainly understand the being issues with the drone ships, wave action has a greater impact than just the air flowing over a wing. Currents can be harder to fight and salt water -and salt air – is corrosive to many materials. Not to mention small craft aren’t nearly as stable as larger craft, so keeping a satellite link could be an engineering challenge in and of itself.

    That being said, the disparity between the damage a warship can take vs what can be delivered, makes this old salt think that these drones might be a very good idea.

  3. This is a technology that is unlikely to mature in the next decade. I saw an article last month saying that Israel, a leading country in the development of drone boat technology is taking out of service the two designs from separate companies of drone guard boats that it has been deploying in the last decade stating that they have low effectiveness and are difficult to control at stormy seas. Cannot find the article.

  4. My limited understanding is that the high cost of naval vessels is down to 2 things:
    1.. Crew. Trained naval crew have high costs. Not just pay but all sorts of things like health care, training, food, housing, etc.
    2.. The complex network of electronics, sensors etc that are the main factor distinguishing modern warships from a cheap cargo ship with some missile pods.

    Going to unmanned ships solves issue number 1, but only at the cost of increasing issue number 2.

    (It also solves a 3rd issue: the modern democracies really, REALLY can’t deal with military casualties.)

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