US Marines to Test Stealthy Drone Boat for Missile Supply

The US Marine Corps is set to test an unmanned boat prototype designed to covertly supply ground troops with missiles.

The Autonomous Low-Profile Vessel (ALPV) has already been tested from surface vessels over the last year.

However, it will be tested in an operational environment for the first time at Project Convergence Capstone 4 this spring, head of Marine Corps Combat Development Command Lt. Gen. Karsten Heckl said.

Inspired by Drug Running Narco Subs

The vessel is designed to carry two Naval Strike Missiles for the Navy/Marine Corps Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System — deployed on an unmanned Joint Light Tactical Vehicle.

The Marines’ inspiration for the vessel’s development came from drug runners’ submersibles, designed to evade visual and radar signatures.

 “We just copy the drug lords down south running drugs,” Heckl was quoted as saying last year. 

“They are hard to find, so now we figure, hey, it works, right?”

Logistics Supply Option Inside Enemy Territory 

It fits well with the service’s recent focus on logistics supply to forces inside an enemy’s “weapon’s engagement zone  — inside the first island chain off China, for example,” Seapower wrote.

The unmanned supply option is more cost-effective than manned vehicles without the attendant risk to human life.

A small business built the ALPV prototype, but the Marines expect a bigger firm to get involved if a larger order follows.

“You can imagine if these things are inexpensive and we can develop a different variant to do a different kind of logistics mission,” USNI News quoted Heckl as saying. 

“But right now, again, based on the direction of staying focused on lethality, that’s where we went with this. And it’s working well.”

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