US Navy boosts aspiration for large unmanned fleet

Weapons-makers in the US are working on unmanned ship programmes. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (REUTERS) - The US Navy sees its future fleet comprised of more than 350 manned ships and about 150 unmanned ships, hoping technology means lower operating costs as it prepares to counter a growing Chinese fleet, according to a Navy report released on Tuesday (July 26).

The plan for the 2040s and beyond underscored "the need to address long-term competition with China and sustain military advantage against Russia".

It forecasts fleet numbers up slightly from a 2021 Navy long-range shipbuilding plan which had a range of 321 to 372 manned ships and 77 to 140 large unmanned vessels.

Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc and General Dynamics Corp are the largest ship builders in the United States, with other weapons-makers like Boeing Co working on unmanned ship programmes.

Today, the Navy has 298 ships in its "battle force", which ignores scores of resupply and logistics ships.

The Navy's proposed fiscal year 2023 budget requested US$27.9 billion (S$38.78 billion) in shipbuilding funding for eight new ships, including two Virginia class attack submarines, two Arleigh Burke destroyers, and one Constellation frigate.

The US Congress is working to add ships to the Navy's fleet.

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