The Navy has repeatedly stated that introducing more unmanned maritime vehicles into its fleet is a key to implementing Distributed Maritime Operations. So, the fact that production of unmanned submersibles will reach a low ebb in 2022 is not an encouraging sign for distributed ops. It suggests that the revolution in naval affairs is not going to unfold at the pace the Navy leadership might prefer. It’s not as though unmanned underwater vehicles are a totally new concept: the Navy has been operating them for decades. But the next generation of these systems is supposed to be much more capable, and Congress is not showing great enthusiasm for the effort. Without more robust funding levels for prototyping and production, it is hard to see how contractors can sustain the workforce or supplier base necessary to make unmanned underwater vehicles a significant contributor to future maritime operations. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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