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Navy wants 21 new large undersea and surface attack drones in 5 years

FOX News

Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com. The Navy is getting into drones in a big way, with new plans to add 21 unmanned surface and underwater vessels over the next five years. The Navy just released its 30-year shipbuilding plan, which reflects a growing emphasis on the use of drones in maritime combat. Between now and 2026, the Navy aims to acquire 12 large unmanned surface vessels, one medium unmanned surface vessel and 8 extra-large unmanned underwater vessels, according to the plan.


Navy arms destroyers with new drone, aircraft and missile defenses

FOX News

Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com. Attacking enemy cruise missiles, fighter jets, helicopters and longer-range high altitude ballistic missiles all present substantial threats to Navy surface ships, especially when multiple attacks arrive simultaneously. By and large, defending against incoming ballistic missiles and air and cruise missiles requires separate defensive systems … until now. A new family of SPY-6 radar systems is being quickly expanded by the U.S. Navy to incorporate a much wider swath of the fleet.


U.S. nuclear submarine crosses Strait of Hormuz amid tensions

The Japan Times

Dubai/Washington – An American nuclear-powered guided-missile submarine traversed the strategically vital waterway between Iran and the Arabian Peninsula on Monday, the U.S. Navy said, in a rare announcement that comes amid rising tensions with Iran. The Navy's 5th Fleet, based in Bahrain, said the Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Georgia, accompanied by two other warships, passed through the Strait of Hormuz, a narrow passageway through which a fifth of the world's oil supplies travel. The unusual transit in the Persian Gulf's shallow waters, aimed at underscoring American military might in the region, follows the killing last month of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, an Iranian scientist named by the West as the leader of the Islamic Republic's disbanded military nuclear program. It also comes some two weeks before the anniversary of the American drone strike near Baghdad airport in Iraq that killed top Iranian military commander Gen. Qassem Soleimani on Jan. 3. Iran has promised to seek revenge for both killings. The Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine's presence in Mideast waterways signals the U.S. Navy's "commitment to regional partners and maritime security with a full spectrum of capabilities," the Navy said, demonstrating its readiness "to defend against any threat at any time."


U.S. To Equip MQ-9 Reaper Drones With Artificial Intelligence

#artificialintelligence

The Pentagon's Joint Artificial Intelligence Center has awarded a $93.3 million contract to General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Inc (GA-ASI), makers of the MQ-9 Reaper, to equip the drone with new AI technology. The aim is for the Reaper to be able to carry out autonomous flight, decide where to direct its battery of sensors, and to recognize objects on the ground. The contract, announced at the end of last month, builds on a successful test earlier this year. In some ways this is not a major development, more of an incremental step using existing technology. What makes it significant is the drone that is being equipped, and what it will be able to do afterwards.


DARPA CODE Autonomy Engine Demonstrated on Avenger UAS

#artificialintelligence

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has demonstrated the DARPA-developed Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE) autonomy engine on the company's Avenger Unmanned Aircraft System (UAS). CODE was used in order to gain further understanding of cognitive Artificial Intelligence (AI) processing on larger UAS platforms for air-to-air targeting. Using a network-enabled Tactical Targeting Network Technology (TTNT) radio for mesh network mission communications, GA-ASI was able to demonstrate integration of emerging Advanced Tactical Data Links (ATDL), as well as separation between flight and mission critical systems. During the autonomous flight, CODE software controlled the manoeuvring of the Avenger UAS for over two hours without human pilot input. GA-ASI extended the base software behavioural functions for a coordinated air-to-air search with up to six aircraft, using five virtual aircraft for the purposes of the demonstration.


Pentagon sends B-52 bombers to Persian Gulf, as US launches airstrikes in Somalia after pulling out

FOX News

Former CIA director, author of the book'Undaunted,' John Brennan provides insight on'Fox News Sunday.' The U.S. military flew a pair of B-52 bombers to the Middle East Thursday from Barksdale AFB in Louisiana the second deterrence mission against Iran in recent weeks and comes on the same day U.S. drones attacked al-Qaeda-linked'explosives experts' in Somalia. "We have seen some indications of increased attack planning by Iranian-linked forces inside Iraq" said one U.S. military official who declined to be identified to discuss the sensitive nature of the information. "Presidential transitions are normally a time when our adversaries try to test us," the official added. U.S. military forces are drawing down to 2,500 in Iraq and Afghanistan before January 20th.


General Atomics Aeronautical Systems Tests AI-Driven Avenger Drones

#artificialintelligence

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems (GA-ASI) has announced that on October 28, the firm tested one of its artificial intelligence (AI) driven Avenger drones. The release did not indicate where the test took place but it did emphasize that the drones were built in cooperation with the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA). GA-ASI further noted that it used a government-supplied Collaborative Operations in Denied Environment (CODE) autonomy engine, which was installed on the Avenger drone, in order to support air-to-air targeting missions. CODE was developed by DARPA to deal with the scalability and cost-effectiveness issues concerning unmanned aircraft systems operations. "DARPA's CODE program aims to overcome these limitations with new algorithms and software for existing unmanned aircraft that would extend mission capabilities and improve U.S. forces' ability to conduct operations in denied or contested airspace," read the project's webpage.


General Atomics Avenger Drone Flew A Mock Air-To-Air Mission Using An "Autonomy Engine"

#artificialintelligence

However, in this more recent test, General Atomics did develop additional algorithms for CODE to support "behavioral functions for a coordinated air-to-air search." During the demonstration, a human operator then instructed the Avenger and its five virtual wingmen to carry out the aerial search mission, which they then performed autonomously. The CODE "engine" flew the physical Avenger drone for more than two hours, according to the company's press release. It's interesting to note that the instructions from the human operator were sent to the drone using a Tactical Targeting Network Technology (TTNT) radio via the well-established Link16 waveform. The Navy developed TTNT first for the EA-18G Growler and it is now a key component of the service's Block III upgrade package for its F/A-18E/F Super Hornets.


AI-Powered Sensing Technology to be Developed for MQ-9 UAS

#artificialintelligence

General Atomics Aeronautical Systems, Inc. (GA-ASI) has been awarded a contract by the U.S. Department of Defense's Joint Artificial Intelligence Center (JAIC) to develop enhanced autonomous sensing capabilities for unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The JAIC Smart Sensor project aims to advance drone-based AI technology by demonstrating object recognition algorithms and employing onboard AI to automatically control UAV sensors and direct autonomous flight. GA-ASI will deploy these new capabilities on a MQ-9 Reaper UAV equipped with a variety of sensors, including GA-ASI's Reaper Defense Electronic Support System (RDESS) and Lynx Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR). GA-ASI's Metis Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) tasking and intelligence-sharing application, which enables operators to specify effects-based mission objectives and receive automatic notification of actionable intelligence, will be used to command the unmanned aircraft. J.R. Reid, GA-ASI Vice President of Strategic Development, commented: "GA-ASI is excited to leverage the considerable investment we have made to advance the JAIC's autonomous sensing objective. This will bring a tremendous increase in unmanned systems capabilities for applications across the full-range of military operations."


Trump Is Said to Be Preparing to Withdraw Troops From Afghanistan, Iraq and Somalia

NYT > Middle East

But the president's aspirations have long run into resistance, as his own national security officials argued that abandonment of such troubled countries could have catastrophic consequences -- such as when the United States pulled out of Iraq at the end of 2011, leaving a vacuum that fostered the rise of the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria. Mr. Trump has also repeatedly pushed to withdraw from Syria, but several hundred U.S. troops remain stationed there, partly to protect coveted oil fields held by American-backed Syrian Kurdish allies from being seized by the government of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. The current deliberations over withdrawals would not affect those in Syria, officials said. The plan under discussion to pull out of Somalia is said to not apply to U.S. forces stationed in nearby Kenya and Djibouti, where American drones that carry out airstrikes in Somalia are based, according to officials familiar with the internal deliberations who spoke on the condition of anonymity. Keeping those air bases would mean retaining the military's ability to use drones to attack militants with the Shabab, the Qaeda-linked terrorist group -- at least those deemed to pose a threat to American interests.