Surface Forces: December 16, 2003


The U.S. Navy's experimental Spartan Scout class USV (unmanned sea going vehicle) has been sent to the Persian Gulf aboard the cruiser USS Gettysburg. The 23 foot long Spartan has received nothing but praise so far. The USV was meant for use in restricted waters, like the Persian Gulf. The Spartan controllers on the Gettysburg send the USV off to patrol close to the coast. The Spartan is equipped with "electro-optical/infrared surveillance turret, surface search radar, digital imagery transmission suite, and an unmanned command and control suite." In plain English, that means the USV has a day/night camera, a radar, radio gear that allows it to broadcast video and radar images back to the Gettysburg, and software that allows the USV to think for itself and stay out of trouble if the controllers on the Gettysburg lose contact with it. The USV can be equipped with Hellfire or Javelin missiles, and these would be used to attack hostile patrol boats (or boats packed with explosives for a suicide run at American ships) before they got too close to American ships. It's not known if the USV will be equipped with missiles for tests while it is in the Persian Gulf. The navy is eager to work out any bugs in the Spartan and get it into general service as soon as possible. Al Qaeda is known to be interested in making more suicide boat attacks on American warships and the Spartan Scout USV is an excellent way to stop that sort of thing.


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