Portugal hosts maritime unmanned systems experimentation drill

Photo: US Navy

The international unmanned maritime systems experimentation exercise hosted by the Portuguese Navy concluded in waters near Lisbon, Portugal, on September 27.

Named Recognized Environmental Picture augmented by Maritime Unmanned Systems REP (MUS), the exercise was attended by US, European Navy and NATO partners.

“The overall purpose of REP (MUS) 19 was to bring together academia, industry, and military participants from multiple NATO member nations to test new maritime unmanned systems technologies in order to improve interoperability, learn together, and to accelerate the adoption of unmanned maritime systems into NATO,” said John Stastny, Office of Naval Research global science advisor to US Naval Forces Europe-Africa/C6F.

One of the highlights of the exercise was the US Navy’s test of the Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems (TALONS).

This was the first time the system was tested on a US guided-missile destroyer, or an allied nation’s vessel. TALONS allows a payload to be elevated above a vessel and provides increased field of regard for either sensors or communications.

During a distinct demonstration day, Sept. 20, unmanned technologies were put on full display. Unmanned underwater, surface and air vehicles from NATO countries were showcased and their capabilities and accomplishments highlighted. Portugal also flew a vertical takeoff, vertical landing unmanned aerial vehicle during a mock close quarters battle.

“At the tactical level, the combined US Navy team seamlessly integrated with NATO allies from Belgium, Italy, Poland, Portugal and Turkey to conduct complex UUV searches at multiple sites around Troia and Sesimbra, Portugal,” said Cmdr. Oliver Herion.

“The experiences and new relationships developed at REP (MUS) 19 increased readiness and interoperability, and lessons learned will help shape MCM experimentation in exercise BALTOPS 2020.”

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