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Unmanned Vehicles Transforming Warfare

Navy NewsStand

Story Number: NNS090203-20
Release Date: 2/3/2009 5:32:00 PM

By Bill Doughty, U.S. Pacific Fleet Public Affairs

PEARL HARBOR (NNS) -- Unmanned vehicles, especially a new generation of highly technical machines, are proving themselves in hostile environments, according to the commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, in his Rat-Pac Report podcast posted Feb. 4.

Remotely controlled aerial, surface and underwater unmanned vehicles (UAVs, USVs and UUVs), which reduce risk to Sailors and other operators, are part of the Navy's arsenal and "continue to prove themselves in the Middle East," said Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet, Adm. Robert F. Willard.

"We're witnessing the birth of a whole new generation of unmanned vehicles across all the domain," he added.

Willard has served in a variety of fighter squadrons and aircraft carriers and was operations officer and executive officer of Navy Fighter Weapons School.

"As a pilot, I've watched the evolution of unmanned aerial vehicles with great interest. While some would maintain that they threaten a pilot's existence – the future may hold a time when aircraft are inherently unmanned in performing their duties remotely – the fact is that we see it a little differently. We see environments where unmanned vehicles have a great advantage over a manned vehicle," Willard said.

"When you think about it, there are times when unmanned vehicles may be more affordable and simpler and still meet our needs, and therefore obviate a necessity for manned platforms."

Willard advises Sailors to learn more about unmanned vehicles when they have the opportunity.

"Undoubtedly, many of us that are in technical roles in the Navy will come in contact with unmanned vehicles that are either servicing our needs in gathering intelligence and supplying information in conducting research, or we'll be operating them ourselves," he said.

"I think UAVs, UUVs, USVs, all the family of unmanned vehicles, are here to stay and here to continually evolve to help us perform our missions across the Navy."

Willard became the Commander, U.S. Pacific Fleet on May 8, 2007. He is responsible for the world's largest fleet command, encompassing 100 million square miles and approximately 178 ships, 1,500 aircraft and 160,000 Sailors, Marines and civilians.

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