US Navy tracks Iran Navy with unmanned systems in Persian Gulf

According to information published by the US DoD on October 6, 2023, the U.S. 5th Fleet successfully employed unmanned platforms alongside traditional naval vessels and aircraft to enhance security measures in the waters near the Arabian Peninsula.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 An Aerovel Flexrotor unmanned aerial vehicle launches from the deck of the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McFaul in the Gulf of Oman and an image of an Iranian Navy frigate taken by the UAV. (Picture source: US DoD)

This strategic move involved the integration of 12 distinct unmanned systems with manned ships in a series of "manned-unmanned teaming" operations. These operations were particularly focused on monitoring activities of the Iranian Navy and the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy during their routine patrols in the vicinity of the Strait of Hormuz.

This initiative comes in the wake of recent incidents where Iran has unlawfully detained merchant ships sailing under international flags in this crucial maritime region.

The operation utilized a range of unmanned technologies, including underwater vehicles (UUVs), surface vehicles (USVs), and aerial vehicles (UAVs). Capt. Joe Baggett, a key figure in the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command and U.S. 5th Fleet, highlighted the significance of integrating these new USVs and emphasized the Navy's vision for incorporating such platforms in future fleet operations.

Various task forces, including those specializing in amphibious operations, mine countermeasures, logistics, surface warfare, expeditionary measures, patrol/reconnaissance, and unmanned/artificial intelligence, collaborated in this operation.

The operational area overseen by the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command/U.S. 5th Fleet spans approximately 2.5 million square miles. This vast region, which includes waters like the Arabian Gulf, Red Sea, Gulf of Oman, Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, and parts of the Indian Ocean, is crucial for global commerce, with three vital choke points: the Strait of Hormuz, the Suez Canal, and the Strait of Bab al Mandeb.