Home Americas US Navy outlines framework for integrating unmanned systems into warfighting concept

US Navy outlines framework for integrating unmanned systems into warfighting concept

X-47B UCAS on USS George H.W. Bush
An X-47b demonstrator unmanned aerial system landing on USS George H.W. Bush in 2013. Photo: US Navy

The US Navy and Marine Corps released the “Unmanned Campaign framework” on Tuesday, outlining a strategy for making unmanned systems a trusted and integral part of warfighting.

The Navy aims to build a future where unmanned systems are at the front lines of its competitive advantage through a capabilities-based approach.

As outlined in the framework, the Navy and Marine Corps will strive to advance manned-unmanned teaming effects within the full range of naval and joint operations, build a digital infrastructure that integrates and adopts unmanned capabilities at speed and scale, incentivize rapid incremental development and testing cycles for unmanned systems, and disaggregate common problems, solve once, and scale solutions across platforms and domains. It will also work on creating a capability-centric approach for unmanned contributions (platforms, systems, subsystems) to the force.

The framework provides a strategy for integrating these systems to provide lethal, survivable, and scalable effects supporting the future maritime mission.

The services are developing detailed technology maturation and acquisition roadmaps within a separate classified plan of action and milestones.

“The path forward requires a holistic approach to developing and deploying unmanned systems, ensuring that individual technologies can operate within a broader architecture of networked warfighting systems, supported by the right people, policies, operational concepts, and other enablers,” the Navy said.

“The Navy and Marine Corps unmanned campaign plan serves as a roadmap for how we will realize a future where unmanned systems serve as an integral part of the Navy’s warfighting team in support of distributed maritime operations,” said Vice Adm. Jim Kilby, Deputy Chief of Naval Operations for Warfighting Requirements and Capabilities. “The plan lays out how we will scale tested and proven systems as well as develop the core technologies required to successfully integrate unmanned systems into the fleet.”
The framework provides guidance for the Services to pursue an agile and aggressive approach to develop the core technologies required to successfully integrate unmanned systems into the Navy’s future force structure. The Services must invest in the networks, control systems, infrastructure, interfaces, artificial intelligence, and data required to support unmanned systems to succeed.

“The Navy and Marine Corps unmanned campaign plan will guide our naval research and development investments, and through the acquisition process, we will collaborate with our industry partners to design, build, field and sustain manned and unmanned teaming throughout the fleet,” said Frederick J. Stefany Acting Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition. “It also sets the framework to enable the Department of the Navy to accelerate, deliver and scale valuable manned and unmanned capabilities.”

The Navy is introducing the framework as it is preparing for the return of Great Power Competition. The service believes that in order to face new warfighting demands, it will have to embrace autonomous systems to provide additional capacity and capability to its combatant force and allow commanders the ability to accept risk where they couldn’t before.

“A family of unmanned systems is critical to the employment of our force during Distributed Maritime Operations. The goal is for us to be able to persist inside the weapons engagement zone of any adversary, to create problems and challenges, to make that adversary change their behavior or course of action they intend to pursue,” said Lt. Gen Eric Smith, commanding general of Marine Corps Combat Development Command and deputy commandant for Combat Development and Integration.

“These systems will be prevalent in all mediums: surface, sub-surface, ground and air. manned/unmanned teaming increases our lethality while allowing us to accept less risk in certain situations. Coordinating our efforts as a naval force will expedite the concept development and material solutions for our marines and sailors.”

The entire document is available under the following link