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US Navy Announces Jordan-Based Joint Drone Hub

The US Navy has announced the establishment of a Red Sea-based drone operations joint hub to be shared with the Jordanian navy from next month.

The Royal Jordanian naval base in Aqaba, Jordan, will host Task Force 59’s new Saildrone Explorer unmanned surface vessel (USV), the Bahrain-headquartered US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) revealed in a statement.

Wind, Solar-Powered Unmanned Vessel

The Saildrone is a wind and solar-powered USV “capable of up to 12-month data collection missions on the open ocean,” its California-based manufacturer stated.

The 7m (23ft) unmanned vessel features a 5m (15ft) wing that acts as a sail to propel the vessel. There is also a small tab on the tail of the drone “attached to the wing that controls the angle of attack.”

The GPS-equipped vessel, which is supervised 24/7 by trained operators, uses an onboard computer to navigate safely. Each Sailboard carries a solar-powered sensor package to monitor the maritime environment. 

Saildrone Explorer unmanned surface vessel. Image: Saildrone

Joint Effort

Commander of the Royal Jordanian Naval Force Col. Hisham Khaleel Aljarrah revealed that they are “working harder and smarter to achieve maritime security, in all domains – surface, subsurface, and over the sea.”

 “The Red Sea will witness a significant increase in monitoring and power projection to maintain stability and security within international waters.”

Unmanned Systems Integration Task Force

NAVCENT launched the task force to integrate unmanned systems and artificial intelligence within the 5th Fleet’s area of operations spanning the Persian Gulf, Red Sea, Arabian Sea, and parts of the Indian Ocean in September.

Commander of NAVCENT, Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, revealed that the aim of the integration is to enhance “maritime domain awareness” and “increase deterrence.”

Maritime robotics expert Capt. Michael D. Brasseur added that the task force is expected to “build trust and confidence in human-machine teaming through a series of operations at sea.”

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