The armed boats are meant to counteract threats from small boat swarms
U.S. Navy ships face the growing threat of small boat swarms used by terrorists, pirates or enemy countries. New testing has shown off a possible counter that looks strangely similar except for the lack of human sailors — small robot boats armed with missiles.
The Navy launched six missiles from an unmanned surface boat — called the unmanned surface vessel precision engagement module (USV PEM) — during testing on Oct. 24. The 36-foot (11 meters)robot boat carries both missiles and a .50 caliber machine gun that can take on small boats that may threaten larger Navy warships.
"Technology demonstrated in this project can provide a capability to combat terrorists who use small low-cost vehicles as weapons platforms," said Mark Moses, assistant program manager for NAVSEA Naval Special Warfare.
Successful testing could add another weapon to the Navy's arsenal for countering small boat threats — a terrorist attack used a small boat as a floating suicide bomb to cripple the destroyer USS Cole in 2000. Countries such as Iran have also armed their navies with small boat swarmsthat can launch missiles or torpedoes in an attempt to overwhelm the defenses of U.S. Navy warships.