Metal Shark. Loitering munitions. Collaborative swarming behaviors.
That’s who and what this episode will cover, thanks to a recent agreement between the Marine Corps and Louisiana-based boat builder Metal Shark for a new type of long-distance autonomous warship.
Technically classified as the Long Range Unmanned Surface Vessel (LRUSV), the objective for Metal Shark will be to create a 30-foot craft capable of providing unmanned operations delivering drones, or the aforementioned loitering munitions, capable of collecting information about a potential target before blowing it up.
These "kamikaze" drones would form what the Strategic Capabilities Office has dubbed a "Sea Mob" capable of searching for, and potentially waiting for, their targets before detonating.
According to TaskandPurpose.com, a fleet of LRUSVs would deploy as a “collaborative swarm” capable of interacting with other vessels and weapons systems in overwhelming a target or enemy.
They may be autonomous, but personnel could still be used onboard to ensure smooth operations and transition between different payloads.
The report identified the development of these vessels as strategically important to Indo-Pacific operations in creating a deterrent to potential Chinese military actions.
Metal Shark had previously been selected to supply both the Navy and Coast Guard with robotic test vessels that are part of ongoing research into autonomous craft.
The company will also be working with Spatial Integrated Systems, which was recently acquired by Huntington Ingalls, to develop the autonomous capabilities.
Metal Shark will look to deliver this collaborative swarming vessel by 2027.