Nato showcases unmanned maritime mettle

Harry Lye 25 September 2019 (Last Updated September 26th, 2019 12:35)

Nato allies have been testing unmanned underwater, surface and aerial vehicles in Portugal, showcasing the alliance’s unmanned potential.

Nato showcases unmanned maritime mettle
BAE Systems unmanned Pacific 950 rigid inflatable boat. Credits: NATO.

Video: Nato.

Nato exercise Recognised Environmental Picture (REP) Maritime Unmanned Systems (MUS) 19 saw 800 personnel from Nato member states Portugal, Belgium, Italy, Poland, Turkey, the UK and the US participate, supported by teams from the alliances Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation.

Nato said the unmanned systems “can be a game-changer in countering multiple threats in the maritime domain”. The navies of the US and UK are looking to unmanned systems to complete dull, dirty or dangerous missions like clearing sea mines.

During the trials, Nato said: “Exercise REP (MUS) 19 is an opportunity to test the interoperability of maritime unmanned systems technologies and to test procedures and tactics for Maritime Unmanned Systems used by Nato countries.”

The exercise saw a range of vessels participate, including two unmanned Royal Navy boats; an unmanned BAE Systems Pacific 950 rigid inflatable boat from and an L3 Harris C-Target 9 vessel, made by.

Royal Navy Fleet Robotics Officer Commander Sean Trevethan said: “REP MUS 2019 is the largest Nato maritime unmanned systems exercise ever staged.” Alongside the larger boat sized systems, Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), small vessels and sensor buoys were deployed.

The exercise, spanning most of September, tested the abilities of the vehicles to operate in line-of-sight environments, using unmanned systems to shield a US destroyer from small boat attacks, demonstrating unmanned systems’ potential to help defend manned vessels.

Portuguese Special Forces also used the unmanned systems as intelligence collecting platforms to plan and execute mock raids on a beach and a mock boarding of a ship.