The US Navy has conducted a follow-on fleet experiment on unmanned surface vessels (USVs) equipped with non-lethal weapons off the shoreline of Fort Eustis, Virginia, US.

The test, directed by US Fleet Forces Command, was aimed at validating and exploring USV capabilities to deploy non-lethal weapons during maritime security and force protection operations.

USFF Fleet Policy Capabilities Requirements, Concepts and Experimentation Staff deputy chief rear admiral Scott Craig said: ‘Equipping unmanned surface vessels with non-lethal weapons will further expand the capabilities of our naval forces to confront an increasingly complex set of threats.’

During the demonstration, the militarised USVs, capable of operating in autonomous and semi-autonomous modes, were equipped with directional acoustic hailer, eye dazzling laser and flash-bang munitions to counter a set of threatening scenarios posed by intruder vessels.

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By GlobalData

USFF’s director for Fleet Experimentation Commander Mike Frantz said: ‘The Fleet Experimentation programme allows the Navy to partner with commercial and government organisations to address and obtain solutions where critical maritime capability gaps exist.’

During the latest experiment, geo-positional data from the boats was collected in addition to the surveys from fleet users and observer logs from subject matter experts.

The trial involved USFF, several components of Naval Sea Systems Command, the Navy acquisition community, commercial industries and academia.

During Trident Warrior 2011, USVs’ capability were tested and validated based on their autonomous reaction to vessels travelling in protected waterways.

The Fleet Experimentation plan continues in June with the start of the annual Trident Warrior experimentation series.

The multi-phased Trident Warrior 2012 will be conducted and integrated with several large joint and multinational exercises in the West Coast operating areas.