US, UAE Naval Forces Complete First-Ever Bilateral Unmanned Exercise

U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) concluded a weeklong unmanned systems and artificial intelligence integration exercise with the United Arab Emirates Navy in the Arabian Gulf, Feb. 20.

Five unmanned surface vessels (USVs) from the Emirati navy and NAVCENT’s Task Force 59 operated off the coast of the United Arab Emirates. Cameras and sensors aboard the USVs captured imagery and video of vessels sailing nearby. The visuals were then transmitted to operational centers ashore where artificial intelligence platforms helped detect, identify and classify the data.

“This exercise allowed us to further train our artificial intelligence platforms to sort through new data sets, which will ultimately enhance our detection capabilities,” said Lt. Jay Faylo, Task Force 59’s lead exercise planner. “It has been a tremendous opportunity doing this with our Emirati partners who are at the leading edge of technology in the region.”

NAVCENT established Task Force 59 in September 2021 to integrate new unmanned systems and artificial intelligence into U.S. naval operations across the Middle East. This was the unit’s first bilateral exercise with the United Arab Emirates.

Participating USVs from Task Force 59 included an L3 Harris Arabian Fox MAST-13, Ocean Aero Triton, and two Saildrone Explorers.

Since its launch, Task Force 59 has operated a suite of new unmanned systems based at operational hubs in Bahrain and Aqaba, Jordan. The Middle East region’s unique geography, climate and strategic importance offer an ideal environment for unmanned innovation.

The U.S. 5th Fleet operating area includes 21 countries, the Arabian Gulf, Gulf of Oman, Red Sea, parts of the Indian Ocean and three critical choke points at the Strait of Hormuz, Bab al-Mandeb and Suez Canal.


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