The target, a surface vessel, was destroyed during the Unmanned Systems Integrated Battle Problem (UxS IBP) 21 exercise, which was recently conducted off the Californian coast.
During the exercise, several unmanned systems teaming operations took place, taking into account various military scenarios.
.@USPacificFleet’s unmanned surface vessels launch for the Unmanned Systems Integrated Battle Problem (@UXSIBP) 21. UxS IBP 21 integrates manned & unmanned capabilities to create warfighting advantages. #FreeAndOpenIndoPacific #FightTonight pic.twitter.com/7FSdy8yk0D
— U.S. Indo-Pacific Command (@INDOPACOM) April 22, 2021
Speaking about the exercise during an April 26 press conference, as per Forbes, technical manager for the exercise, Rear Adm. Jim Aiken, said:
Our goal for this exercise is to evaluate these unmanned systems and how they can actually team with manned systems.
This type of swarm is intended to overwhelm defences by striking them with more attackers than they can handle, and reportedly costs less than a conventional missile.
The small warheads are capable of knocking out radar and other important systems, leaving the target vulnerable to attack by larger weapons. As per Forbes, a swarm of 50 drones have the ability to attack 50 small targets, including fast attack craft and unmanned surface vessels.
Bringing the #USNavy into the future!
Manned and unmanned vessels participate in the @USPacificFleet Unmanned Systems Integrated Battle Problem 21 (UxS IBP 21), designed to integrate operational scenarios for warfighting advantages.
— U.S. Navy (@USNavy) April 21, 2021
China is currently developing anti-access/area denial defences to keep US aircraft and warships away from the South China sea, and so it would appear that the US is now preparing a response.
Unmanned systems mean that sailors’ lives won’t be put at risk, and also eliminates the danger of escalation and human casualties. Unlike a missile, a swarm attack is said to be scalable and is capable of escalating to any level of conflict.