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Task Force 59: The U.S. Navy's Robotic Force in the Persian Gulf

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An Unmanned naval vessel

An Unmanned naval vessel

Scenes from the 1980's Terminator movies flash past as you watch a robotic machine battle humans with relentless determination to terminate the foe. In part, this Sci-Fi classic movie has become reality in the U.S. Navy.

The advent of drone technology has changed the battlefield and it is used in all militaries, but have drone ships with no crew or one with just 5-10 to conduct surveillance, minesweeping, or, conducting a missile attack, is just incredible technology.

Task Force 59 is the wave of future wars in its hybrid form. Small, when compared to a normal naval task force with 10+ ships, this TF is using a small footprint to cover the vast Persian Gulf of 5000 square miles. Of course, the USN has many other task forces to also deploy stationed nearby.

The more unique aspect of TF59 are the following:

  • Armed with MQ-8B Fire Scout aerial drone
  • Armed with MQ-9B Sea Guardian attack drone
  • Armed with unmanned Sea Hunter naval ships
  • Armed with unmanned Sea Hawk naval ships
  • Armed with unmanned Loyal wingman drone
  • Armed with small unmanned minesweeper ships
  • Armed with THOR (Tactical High Power Microwave)

The Sea Hunter and the Sea Hawk are both used for minesweeping and other non-combat duties at a fraction of the cost when compared to a single destroyer in operation (which costs $700,000 daily). The cost to operate the almost drone ships (they do have a small crew of 2-4) is just $15,000 daily. The Sea Hunter has a much longer endurance ability up to 70 days and fuel endurance of 12,000 miles. The Sea Hawk has less endurance and is a smaller size.

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The aerial drones, the Fire Scout and Sea Guardian are most for reconnaissance although the Sea Guardian is used for anti-submarine operations and can track any incoming radar signals from ships or land directed at aircraft or vessels. It could be armed like the Grim Reaper drone. The Loyal Wingman is used for the same but also deflecting incoming missile threats directed at the manned aircraft it is teamed with. It has its own AI to act upon.

The TF will deploy underwater drones when they are available to detect mines and to locate enemy subs or ships guided by a mother ship, These UUV gliders operate to a depth of 3000 ft. and be autonomous for 90 days. They can also be use to gather intelligence of enemy vessel locations. The USN already has one UUV squadron in operation. The UUV's can also be armed with small payloads.

THOR could also be deployed on naval ships which uses high powered microwaves to destroy a single or a swarm of incoming drones, which has proved to be very effective.

Task Force 59 will mostly be used within the littoral waters of the Persian Gulf especially around the Horn of Hormuz and outside of the territorial waters of Iran.


perrya (author) on October 22, 2021:

I agree, but in naval warfare, not so much.

MG Singh emge from Singapore on October 21, 2021:

I was aware of this development of the US Navy but my view is a shade different. Technology may let you win the battle but not the war for that the infantry soldier is needed to hold the ground and this is where the USA fails.

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