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March 14, 2019

WELL, THIS IS THE 21ST CENTURY, YOU KNOW: Navy Wants 10-Ship Unmanned ‘Ghost Fleet’ to Supplement Manned Force.

“These are 200- to 300-foot [vessels], 2,000 tons. I’m not sure what the final hull form will be, that’s what we are using today in terms of what the Ghost Fleet buy will be,” Rear Adm. Randy Crites, deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for budget, said on Tuesday during a press budget briefing.

Unlike the small unmanned craft the Navy has experimented with in the past, the 10 large USVs the Navy wants to buy are the size of a small warship. The corvette-sized USVs are being developed to field different types of sensors and, eventually, vertical launch system (VLS) cells for a variety of guided missiles. However, it’s unclear how the unmanned systems will fit into the larger Navy force structure, how they will be measured as part of the battle force, how they would function with other platforms and what requirements for the Navy the systems would fulfill.

Load them up with antimissile missiles and make them the Navy’s version of the Air Force’s “loyal wingman” program.