The chief of US Armed Forces Central Command called the development of “enemy drones” the greatest technological threat to regional security. That is why US drones with “artificial intelligence” are said to be patrolling the area.
A US task force will deploy more than 100 unmanned vessels by 2023 to ensure maritime security in the Gulf’s strategic waters. This was announced by the head of the US Central Command (CENTCOM), Michael Erik Kurilla, in Bahrain on November 19, according to the Mehr news agency reported. “By this time next year, Task Force 59 will comprise a fleet of more than 100 surface and underwater unmanned vessels that will operate together, communicate with one another and enhance maritime intelligence.”Kurilla announced during the annual dialogue conference in Manama.
The announcement came after Israel and the United States blamed Iran for a drone strike off the coast of Oman this week that hit an Israeli-owned tanker. “This attack by an unmanned aerial vehicle on a civilian ship in this critical strait shows once again how destabilizing Iran’s malign activities in the region are,” said General Michael Erik Kurilla to the Wall Street Journal. The comments came during a visit to Tel Aviv, where he announced the US and Israel were “at an accelerated pace developing joint military capabilities” against Iran and other threats in West Asia.
Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, commander of the 5th Fleet, announced that 100 unmanned drones, capable of both sailing and diving, will greatly enhance the US Navy’s surveillance capabilities in the region and allow it to navigate waterways vital to the world’s oil trade to monitor closely. “We can just observe more by using unmanned systems… They are highly reliable and eliminate the human aspect,” said Cooper on the sidelines of a defense demonstration in Abu Dhabi, adding that the systems are “the only option to fill the gaps we have today”.
He expects the artificial intelligence-equipped drones to be operational by the summer of 2023 and will have additional “eyes and ears on the ocean.” Cooper stated that Israel will almost certainly join the Navy’s unmanned drone strike force in the region. “I can imagine that we will work side by side in the future,” he said.
The Fifth Fleet, based in Bahrain, patrols the critical Strait of Hormuz, the tiny estuary of the Persian Gulf through which 20 percent of the world’s oil supply flows. It also extends to the Red Sea near the Suez Canal, Egypt’s waterway connecting western Asia to the Mediterranean Sea, and Yemen’s Bab el-Mandeb Strait.