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U.S. Navy joins Israel in unmanned exercise in Gulf of Aqaba.

| 2022

According to information published by the US DoD on September 22, 2022, forces from Israel and the U.S. completed a four-day exercise in the Gulf of Aqaba.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Vessels from the Israeli Navy and NAVCENT in the Gulf of Aqaba with two USVs, a Devil Ray T-38, top, and Saildrone Explorer, bottom, during exercise Digital Shield (Picture source: DVIDS)

The exercise, called Digital Shield, was a bilateral training event between U.S. Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT) and Israeli naval forces that focused on enhancing maritime awareness using unmanned systems and artificial intelligence in support of vessel boarding operations.

U.S. participants included members of NAVCENT’s unmanned systems and artificial intelligence task force, Task Force 59, and the U.S. Coast Guard. A Devil Ray T-38 and Saildrone Explorer unmanned surface vessel also participated.

The Saildrone Explorer is a 23-foot-long, 16-foot-tall USV reliant on wind power for propulsion. The vessel houses a package of sensors powered through solar energy for building a shared picture of the surrounding seas.

The Saildrone is powered by a 5 m (15 ft) wing, which is effectively sail-like on a sailboat, but of a design more similar to the wing on an airplane. Wind passing over the wing produces thrust, and a small tab on the end of the tail attached to the wing controls the angle of attack.

The rudder controls the direction of the hull, and the keel keeps the Saildrone upright. They are equipped with GPS and an onboard computer, enabling the vehicles to navigate following prescribed waypoints, while staying in a safety corridor, taking winds and currents into consideration autonomously.

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