Drone theft. Iran nearly hijacks US maritime reconnaissance drone

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Drone theft. Iran nearly hijacks US maritime reconnaissance drone
Drone theft. Iran nearly hijacks US maritime reconnaissance drone
1 September, 13:39IncidentsPhoto: Соцсети
US 5th Fleet ships operating in the Indian Ocean and Persian Gulf had to intervene urgently to save their unmanned reconnaissance vessel Saildrone Explorer, which has been under testing in the Persian Gulf since December 2021.

Alexander Sychev

Judging by the official statement of the US Navy, the incident occurred around midnight on August 29th. The ships of the 5th fleet, according to the representative of the command, passed through international waters. This was emphasized specifically, which means, most likely, did not correspond to reality. At that moment, they spotted the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Naval Support Ship Shahid Baziar. He was towing the American unmanned surface ship Saildrone Explorer.

The US Navy Thunderbolt patrol ship approached the Iranian ship, and an MH-60S Sea Hawk helicopter took off. The incident lasted four hours - there were verbal altercations on the radio. Apparently, the Iranians talked about the violation of the territorial waters by the drone, the Americans put pressure on the psyche. In the end, the Revolutionary Guards unhooked the drone and left it to the Americans.

There are many incidents at sea, but such, although not the first in history, is very significant.

The topic of unmanned aerial vehicles is the mainstream of modern military thought. They are given great importance in all countries that have a sufficient technological level for their creation and development. Literally all types of troops dream of acquiring them and shifting the most dangerous combat missions onto their mechanical “shoulders”: reconnaissance, breaking through the enemy’s defenses, suppressing his strongholds, deep raids in the rear, and much more.

The Pentagon turned out to be especially encouraged by the opening up prospects and spares no expense to create a variety of unmanned systems. The naval command hatches its own plans. At the beginning of this year, the command of the US Navy announced its intention to have a flotilla of 150 unmanned ships by 2045, and by the summer of 2023 to assemble a multinational fleet of 100 surface drones under its command.

The US Maritime Command is also hatching plans to use underwater, surface and air drones to receive a huge amount of information in order to form what they call the "digital ocean" - an information system that sees, hears and feels everything in the oceans and makes recommendations.

But after the incident with the attempted hijacking of the Saildrone Explorer marine unmanned vehicle, the question arose of how safe the drones themselves can feel. There were precedents with the hijacking of aerial drones. This is how Iran was able to accelerate the process of creating its own aerial drones.

In 2016, the crew of a Chinese rescue boat fished one of two U.S. low-buoyancy unmanned underwater gliders that were surveying the area out of the water. The American reconnaissance vessel Bowditch, which was nearby, only observed the removal of the glider. Then, apparently, diplomatic steps were taken, and the Chinese returned the device.

Meanwhile, the Saildrone Explorer is certainly a very interesting unit. The length of its body is seven meters. Above it rises a five-meter sail, similar to an airplane wing. The draft of the apparatus is two meters, which allows it to work in shallow water in the coastal strip. The drone autonomously moves through large water areas, guided by the points entered in its program. But through satellites, the operator must constantly monitor him. The maximum speed of the sailboat reaches about six kilometers per hour. And it can be sailing all year round.

All Saildrone systems run on electricity provided by solar panels. They also charge batteries during the day. And there is a lot of equipment on the drone. On board are installed: a set of cameras that provide high-resolution all-round visual surveillance with a target detection function, an ultrasonic anemometer for measuring wind speed and direction, a dual inertial measuring unit with global positioning system (GPS) support, a set of sensors. Among them are an acoustic Doppler profiler, shallow and deep water echo sounders and much more. All equipment and the drone itself are controlled by a processor with a patented machine learning algorithm, that is, almost artificial intelligence.

The drone is interesting, and the idea of widespread use of drones among the troops looks very promising, which proves their use during a special military operation in Ukraine. But they will not be able to meet all the expectations of the military. Having drones to deploy additional military forces to guard them is a dead end solution. Apparently, you will either have to agree to abductions, or arm each drone so that it can at least snap back.

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