February 24, 2008
This is something I have been looking at for a while now and I think it will make navies across the world rethink fleet movement and protection.
The Protector is a Unmanned-Surface-Vehicle (USV) that is controlled by pilots that can be thousands of miles away. The protector is a small patrol boat armed with armaments that can be mounted on top of the boat. Typically they will carry a Typhoon Machine Gun developed by Rafael Corp. BAE Systems is also in on the project.
It has been said that the Protector can prevent another USS Cole disaster and I wholeheartedly agree. Because attacks such as these occured is the reason for the Protector's existence. I see applications with the USN's new X-craft. Also with future ships, Protectors can be loaded off the ships and can patrol alongside the fleet, protecting not only destroyers but aircraft carriers as well. Low maintenance and high recovery will prove to be an important asset to the USN if it chooses to invest and acquire protectors. Drop 6 out of the back bay of the X-craft and you have fleet protectors.
I think the next integration of thos technology should be a connection to a network that the fleet is also connected to. With the advancement of AI systems and autonomous vehicles I don't see why the protectors can't be fully autonomous in the next 15 to 20 years. Metal Guardians, who think for themselves will protect the fleet and accomplish the task fearlessly. The United States Navy could use such technology, especially with terrorists and extremeists weapon of choice running about: ramming speedboats packed with explosives into warships.
Israel is currently using this technology to protect naval interests off of its coastline. So far the protector has defended oil rigs as well as oil lines. UMV (unmanned vehicle) technology is the way to the future, and if the predator were to be manufactured cost effectivly I am sure the USN would love to tap into this technology.