NATO Exercises in Portugal Focus on Unmanned Maritime Systems

NATO has led two “operational experimentation exercises” in Portugal focused on autonomous underwater vehicles and integrating maritime technologies into future NATO missions.

The first drill, Dynamic Messenger 23, focused on integrating unmanned maritime systems into operations, “including personnel, training, and readiness issues.”

Also hosted by Portugal, the Robotic Experimentation and Prototyping with Maritime Unmanned Systems (REPMUS) Exercise 2023 focused on maritime capability deployment and interoperability.

Dynamic Collaborations

Dynamic Messenger 23 brought together more than 2,000 civilian and military personnel from 14 NATO states. Sweden, an alliance partner, also took part.

Described as an exercise “designed for the future,” the drill showed how to integrate upgraded technology into all aspects of maritime operations, testing and demonstrating how NATO can use maritime unmanned systems.

NATO’s Allied Command Transformation (ACT) also assessed Emerging Disruptive Technologies, such as AI that can operate in a maritime context.

This year’s event is the program’s second iteration, originally established by NATO’s ACT in the US and Allied Maritime Command in the UK to experiment on unmanned operations.

Future Interoperability

REPMUS 23 was co-organized by the NATO Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation, the University of Porto’s Laboratory for Underwater Systems and Technology, and NATO’s Maritime Unmanned Systems Initiative.

The exercise promotes the testing of unmanned aerial, surface, and undersea vehicles. This year, LIDAR sensors, hyperspectral imagers, and three-dimensional holographic systems were presented as possible systems for collaborative development and interoperability.

Annually hosted by Portugal, REPMUS is the world’s largest Unmanned Aerial Vehicle testing exercise, participated in this year by 15 NATO nations, as well as partners Ireland and Sweden.

Stronger Together

NATO stressed the importance of collaborative efforts within its members, promoting both events as drills that promote maritime advancement readiness.

“Both REPMUS 23 and DYNAMIC MESSENGER 23 have developed significant partnerships between the private sector and academia, and provide guidance for technology advancements, operational concepts, doctrine, and future work programmes,” the statement read.

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