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Iran Press TV

Pentagon to build underwater drones for spying purposes

Iran Press TV

Sat Nov 2, 2013 6:37PM GMT

The Pentagon is working on a developmental program to plant unmanned vehicles on the ocean floor ready to speed to the surface and fly into the air for surveillance and operational purposes, according to a report.

While the program is in its early developmental stages, its implementation has the potential for "launching an underwater arms race," The Stars and Stripes reported.

The aerial drones will be placed in deep-sea capsules that would lay dormant for years, waiting for the signal to send them into action, the report said.

The project is being funded by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Department of Defense's research agency.

Pentagon documents say the agency is also considering other types of drones that travel on the water, though there are no current plans to arm any of them, according to a DARPA statement.

"Today, cost and complexity limit the Navy to fewer weapons systems and platforms, so resources are strained to operate over vast maritime areas," a DARPA statement said in January after the program was announced.

"Unmanned systems and sensors are commonly envisioned to fill coverage gaps and deliver action at a distance."

DARPA officials have acknowledged awarding 13 "Phase 1" contracts to corporations like Lockheed Martin Corporation and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution at the end of fiscal year 2013.

Initial awards were anticipated to be between $1.25 and $1.75 million, increasing dramatically $27 million to $30 million for phases two and three of the project.

The Pentagon's research agency expects to conduct at least one major sea test in the Western Pacific in fiscal year 2017.


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