No shots were fired by either side, the defense officials added, and the Americans didn’t try to prevent the Iranian ship, which was operated by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, from leaving.
Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, the commander of the U.S. naval forces in the region, said the Iranian actions, which took place in international waters, were “flagrant, unwarranted and inconsistent with the behavior of a professional maritime force.”
By next summer, the Navy said, it expects to have 100 small surveillance drones—contributed by various countries—operating from the Suez Canal in Egypt to waters off the Iranian coast and feeding information to a command center in Bahrain, headquarters of the U.S. Fifth Fleet.
“I think we are truly on the cusp of an unmanned technological revolution,” said Capt. Michael Brasseur, who heads the U.S. Navy task force working to build the drone fleet in the Middle East.
The drone initiative, now in its sixth month, is part of a burgeoning cooperative relationship among the U.S., Israel and Gulf nations following the Abraham Accords. It mirrors another U.S.-led effort to unite Israel and its Gulf neighbors to create a regional air-defense network.
We’ve previously covered the Navy’s penchant for massive expenditures on programs like its next generation of Gerald R. Ford
-class aircraft carriers in “Defense Fordism
.” As I wrote then:
The multi-decade commitments that advanced warfighting platforms like the Gerald R. Ford require are slamming straight into the Moore’s Law of autonomous machines. The Ford’s construction was underway prior to the introduction of the iPhone, and it’s still not in service because experimental Chinese weapons like supersonic missiles will likely prove effective in neutering it (an exercise that Beijing has already made a clear priority).
Thankfully, there is increasingly a new logic across the American defense world that these massive platforms need to be complemented by autonomous technologies that are both cheaper to buy and cheaper to operate. That optionality gives mission commanders strategic flexibility in how they approach all aspects of their operations. It’s a lot of labor to make such a massive technological shift, but it’s necessary labor.