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USN 'Ghost Fleet' Large Unmanned Surface Vessel (LUSV)

Grey Havoc

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First directly mentioned on SPF back in 2017:
bring_it_on said:
Pentagon proposes converting existing vessels into 'Ghost Fleet' and other new FY-18 projects

The Pentagon is seeking funding for a new "Ghost Fleet" project in fiscal year 2018 to launch a prototype, unmanned maritime naval force to fulfill existing combatant commander requirements, one of nine new-start projects the secretive Strategic Capabilities Office seeks in its $1.1 billion FY-18 research and development spending request.

The new FY-18 projects seek $430 million in funding and, if enacted, would expand the portfolio of ongoing technology prototype efforts managed by the SCO to more than two dozen in an effort to outfit U.S. forces with disruptive capabilities by establishing new and unconventional uses of existing systems and near-term technologies.

The SCO, created in 2012 and established last fall as a permanent Defense Department entity, focuses on projects with the potential to bolster conventional deterrence and power projection capabilities against great powers such as China and Russia and find new ways to create surprise and demonstrate overmatch capability.

The Ghost Fleet project is the single largest FY-18 SCO new start, with a proposed $206 million budget.

"SCO will develop and demonstrate fleet integrated, operational prototype unmanned maritime vehicles to fill existing mission requirements for Combatant Commanders," the budget request states. The funding would be used to "build and evaluate unmanned capabilities to support future operational demonstrations" and to begin payload integration efforts.

The Ghost Fleet prototypes "will include platforms, autonomy, command, control and communications and payload integration," the request adds.

"Because of their high-value sensors, weapons, and most importantly people, naval ships must be heavily defended," SCO Director William Roper told the Senate Appropriations defense subcommittee on May 3. "Partnering with the Navy, SCO is converting existing vessels into autonomous, collaborative 'ghost fleets' . . . capable of dangerous missions without putting critical ships at risk," according to Roper's written testimony that foreshadowed the FY-18 budget request.

The second-largest FY-18 request for a new-start project is to create a secure tactical communications network for ground forces operating in anti-access, area-denial environments, an effort called "LiTE Saber." The SCO is seeking $65 million in FY-18 to "develop and demonstrate a commercial-enabled" communications network and use the funding to "establish candidate operating environments" and "conduct analysis to define system characteristics and effectiveness," according to the budget request.

The "Breaker" project is another FY-18 new-start, seeking $47.7 million for a demonstration to integrate "existing systems to provide combatant commanders with long range, surface- and air-delivered area effects," according to the budget request. The Breaker project "will demonstrate the feasibility and utility of launching this modified weapon from existing fires launchers," according to the request. The effort aims to retire risks associated with integrating the candidate munition into an unidentified existing weapon system, including modifications to increase munition lethality, according to the budget request.

FY-18 funding would be used to determine the munition integration design, conduct planning for integration into existing fire launchers, conduct ground-based tests and continue mission analysis for evaluating capability across multiple mission areas, according to the request.

Another project, the "Motley Crew," is an FY-18 new-start seeking $32 million to "leverage near-term technologies being developed to enable interoperability between weapons," according to the budget request. "Motley Crew will enable collaboration among existing weapons to enhance capabilities [in] anti-access/area-denial environments," the budget request states.

In a project similar to Ghost Fleet, the SCO is partnering with the Air Force in a new FY-18 project called "AVATAR" to incorporate expendable unmanned aircraft with fighter aircraft formations to allow pilots to control the drones from a safe, standoff distance. The Pentagon is seeking $25 million for AVATAR in FY-18. "SCO will convert manned aircraft and target drones to avatars in order to develop enhanced combat capabilities," the budget request states.

The "Hornet's Nest" project, also an FY-18 new start, requires $24 million to begin work to "develop a multi-mission Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) capable of launch from manned/unmanned rotary and fixed wing aircraft and ground systems," according to the budget request.

"MAVEN" is another FY-18 new-start, seeking $16 million to "leverage advanced commercial technologies to provide advantage to the warfighter in contested environments," according to the request.

"Vanguard" is seeking $8.5 million in FY-18 as a new-start to "provide a capability to detect and track troop and motorized unit movements across the battlefield," and "StormSystem" is also a new start seeking $7 million to "leverage existing capabilities to develop a suite of tools that disrupts the adversary cyber network exploitation," according to the budget request. "This effort will provide low-cost, at-scale obfuscation capabilities to government and industrial base research and development networks."
Most recent development:
https://news.usni.org/2019/03/13/navy-wants-ten-ship-3b-unmanned-experimental-ghost-fleet

Likely related in some way to the CARACaS program.
 

Grey Havoc

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The LUSV program is a proposed new start project for FY2020. The Navy wants to procure two LUSVs per year in FY2020- FY2024. The Navy wants LUSVs to be low-cost, high-endurance, reconfigurable ships based on commercial ship designs, with ample capacity for carrying various modular payloads—particularly anti-surface warfare (ASuW) and strike payloads, meaning principally anti-ship and land-attack missiles. The Navy reportedly envisions LUSVs as being 200 feet to 300 feet in length and having a full load displacement of about 2,000 tons.
 

jsport

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can not agree the "proven Carrier and Air Wing as opposed to the unproven LUSV" both are quite unproven in genuine anti-access/area-denial environments of the next decade and beyond. $3B on what appears to be very rudimentary LUSV program should well be challenged.

"Motley Crew will enable collaboration among existing weapons to enhance capabilities [in] anti-access/area-denial environments," only a sub surface surface vehicle would ever be survivable and there is not even discussion of such a beast but in China.
 

sferrin

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can not agree the "proven Carrier and Air Wing as opposed to the unproven LUSV" both are quite unproven in genuine anti-access/area-denial environments of the next decade and beyond. $3B on what appears to be very rudimentary LUSV program should well be challenged.

"Motley Crew will enable collaboration among existing weapons to enhance capabilities [in] anti-access/area-denial environments," only a sub surface surface vehicle would ever be survivable and there is not even discussion of such a beast but in China.
If there's anything that's "unproven" it's the actual threat of "anti-access/area-denial environments of the next decade". We hear about lots of boogiemen, the vaunted "carrier killers" of lore. No actual evidence yet though. Still nothing real to suggest China is even where the USSR was back in the late 80s.
 

jsport

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The Rand Pacfic war study etc... not going rehash. Pretty well accepted 2050 PRC dominance especially the Pacific.
 

Grey Havoc

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Congress At The Helm
On the issue of unmanned surface ships, the HASC seapower and projection forces subcommittee says in its draft markup that it wants to hold funding for the large unmanned surface vessel, or LUSV, program until the Navy can confirm it has designed a workable mechanical and electrical system that it can operate autonomously for 30 consecutive days. The language reflects that in the Senate Armed Services Committee markup released earlier this month.

The House committee also recommends prohibiting the Navy from arming the LUSV until the “Secretary of the Defense certifies to the congressional defense committees that any large unmanned surface vessel that employs offensive weapons will comply with the law of armed conflict.”

The subcommittee also authorized the purchase of eight new warships, including a second Virginia-class attack submarine the Trump administration removed from the Navy’s budget.

The strategic forces subcommittee directs the Navy to focus on integrating hypersonic weapons on surface ships. According to one committee aid who spoke with reporters, it also asks for a report addressing “certain questions and concerns that are ongoing, including operational control authority, whether we need to update our war plans, who would be responsible for targeting requirements, what the risks of miscalculation would be and what the risk mitigations might be, and finally on basing strategies for a land-based variant.”

Included in that is the new Zumwalt destroyer, the first two of which have been delivered to the Navy and are currently undergoing testing as the service figures out what to do with the truncated three-ship buy.
 

Grey Havoc

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Robot Ships & Submarines

Congress and the Pentagon are deeply at odds over the future of the fleet. The Navy, backed by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, sees robotic vessels as crucial adjuncts to larger manned warships, with unmanned surface and underwater vehicles (USVs and UUVs) serving as relatively expendable scouts, decoys, and missile launchers. Congress, however, remains deeply committed to traditional shipyards and President Trump’s campaign promise of 355 (manned) ships. There’s fear on Capitol Hill. that the Navy may be moving too fast towards full-up prototypes before working out technical basics, like how to keep ships running with no maintenance crew aboard and how to retain human control of lethal weapons from a long way away.

Both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees have passed language limiting the robo-boat programs. SASC forbids the Navy from spending 2021 appropriations on the Medium USV, Large USV, Large Displacement UUV, or Extra-Large UUV until it can show their “‘critical mission, hull, mechanical, and electrical sub-systems’’ will work well. The HASC language specifically says the LUSV must function 30 days without human maintainers; SASC sets a 45-day (1,080-hour) threshold for both LUSV and MUSV.

We haven’t seen HASC’s funding tables yet, so we don’t know if the House committee wants to cut these programs. But the Senate funding tables cut them by over $548 million (and authorizers do have the power to limit spending):

  • Prototyping for Medium and Large USVs is cut entirely, with SASC rejecting the entire $464 million request as “excess procurement ahead of satisfactory testing.”
  • Prototyping for Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicles is cut nearly in half, losing $36 million out of a $78 million request, again as “excess procurement ahead of…. testing.”
  • Prototyping specifically for the XLUUV (aka the Boeing Orca) and the LDUUV (aka Snakehead) are each cut $10 million (out of an unspecified total) for having an “uncertified test strategy.”
  • Even the relatively small and modest Barracuda mine-hunting UUV prototype is cut $28 million for an unspecified “program delay.”
On the upside, SASC would add $115 million for “advanced surface machinery” to help unmanned surface vessels operate without human maintainers: $45 million for “USV autonomy” and $70 million for “engine and generator qualification testing.” That partially offsets the cuts above – but in a way that makes it very clear the Senate wants the Navy to get the basics right before putting prototypes to sea.
 

Grey Havoc

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Robot Ships & Submarines

Congress and the Pentagon are deeply at odds over the future of the fleet. The Navy, backed by Defense Secretary Mark Esper, sees robotic vessels as crucial adjuncts to larger manned warships, with unmanned surface and underwater vehicles (USVs and UUVs) serving as relatively expendable scouts, decoys, and missile launchers. Congress, however, remains deeply committed to traditional shipyards and President Trump’s campaign promise of 355 (manned) ships. There’s fear on Capitol Hill. that the Navy may be moving too fast towards full-up prototypes before working out technical basics, like how to keep ships running with no maintenance crew aboard and how to retain human control of lethal weapons from a long way away.

Both the House and Senate Armed Services Committees have passed language limiting the robo-boat programs. SASC forbids the Navy from spending 2021 appropriations on the Medium USV, Large USV, Large Displacement UUV, or Extra-Large UUV until it can show their “‘critical mission, hull, mechanical, and electrical sub-systems’’ will work well. The HASC language specifically says the LUSV must function 30 days without human maintainers; SASC sets a 45-day (1,080-hour) threshold for both LUSV and MUSV.

We haven’t seen HASC’s funding tables yet, so we don’t know if the House committee wants to cut these programs. But the Senate funding tables cut them by over $548 million (and authorizers do have the power to limit spending):

  • Prototyping for Medium and Large USVs is cut entirely, with SASC rejecting the entire $464 million request as “excess procurement ahead of satisfactory testing.”
  • Prototyping for Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicles is cut nearly in half, losing $36 million out of a $78 million request, again as “excess procurement ahead of…. testing.”
  • Prototyping specifically for the XLUUV (aka the Boeing Orca) and the LDUUV (aka Snakehead) are each cut $10 million (out of an unspecified total) for having an “uncertified test strategy.”
  • Even the relatively small and modest Barracuda mine-hunting UUV prototype is cut $28 million for an unspecified “program delay.”
On the upside, SASC would add $115 million for “advanced surface machinery” to help unmanned surface vessels operate without human maintainers: $45 million for “USV autonomy” and $70 million for “engine and generator qualification testing.” That partially offsets the cuts above – but in a way that makes it very clear the Senate wants the Navy to get the basics right before putting prototypes to sea.
 
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