• The USV successfully defended a NATO ship against a swarm attack.
    The USV successfully defended a NATO ship against a swarm attack. Rafael

An unmanned surface vessel (USV) has been used to successfully counter a swarm attack in a demonstration exercise carried out by Rafael for NATO forces.

The exercise, which took place off the coast of Israel, demonstrated the capabilities of the Protector USV against naval swarm threats.

In the exercise, a NATO ship spotted a large number of hostile vessels advancing rapidly in a swarm attack. The ship reported back to headquarters, allowing the deployment of a Protector USV.

The USV identified the threat from a long distance and simulated the firing of a Spike missile.

Moshe Elazar, head of the Land and Naval Systems Division at Rafael, noted that the demonstration of the Protector's capabilities shows that USVs can handle the threats emanating from terror and criminal activity.

In a statement, Rafael said that the force-multiplying capabilities USVs offer can be applied in a wide range of operational scenarios. These include a water cannon, EW systems, mine counter-measures, Toplite electro-optical long-range detection and tracking systems, and Spike missiles.

In March 2017, Rafael announced it had completed a series of successful tests in which a number of Spike missiles were launched from the Protector and hit simulated enemy targets. The tests were the first time a live missile fired from an operational, remotely controlled USV.

Elbit Systems recently conducted a similar test of a USV undertaking ASW operations against an Israeli submarine.
The tests come ahead of Autonomous Warrior 2018 (AW18), which will be held in Jervis Bay in November.

Whilst RAN does not currently have a procurement program for a USV, it has previously trialled the Bluebottle ASW USV, designed by Ocius Technology and Thales. Three networked Bluebottles will participate in AW18.

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