Pacific Fleet to test contributions of unmanned systems in warfighting

By Jordan Wolman / April 6, 2021 at 11:16 AM

The Navy will be experimenting with a variety of unmanned systems to better understand how these platforms could potentially contribute to naval operations, two Pacific Fleet public affairs officers confirmed to Inside Defense.

Lt. Janice Leister told Inside Defense the test, known as Integrated Battle Problem 21, will take place between April 19 and 26 off the coast of San Diego. IBP 21 comes just about one month after the Navy released its unmanned campaign framework on March 16, which seeks to integrate unmanned systems into naval and joint operations.

Commander Sean Robertson of the U.S. Third Fleet told Inside Defense that IBP 21 will integrate unmanned and manned systems "above the sea, on the sea and below the sea."

Robertson said IBP 21 will feature the MQ-9 Sea Guardian unmanned aerial vehicle, the MQ-8 Fire Scout UAV, the prototype medium displacement unmanned surface vessels Sea Hunter and Sea Hawk, the Zumwalt-class guided missile destroyer Michael Monsoor (DDG-1001), and other air, surface and submarine forces.

The Pacific Fleet's IBP 21 is a "major experiment," acting Assistant Navy Secretary for Research, Development and Acquisition Jay Stefany, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfighting Requirements and Capabilities (OPNAV N9) Vice Adm. James Kilby and Marine Corps Combat Development Command chief Lt. Gen. Eric Smith wrote in March 18 prepared joint testimony before the House Armed Services seapower and projection forces subcommittee.

Stefany, Kilby and Smith also wrote the experiment "will focus on maneuver in a contested space using manned/unmanned teaming in all domains."