Military Review

Drone Games: UxS IBP 21 Experiment Completed in California


Anti-submarine Sea Guardian against the backdrop of USS Independence. Source:

The first of its kind

The US military is currently concerned about integrating newfangled unmanned strike and reconnaissance systems into the structure of the Navy. Unmanned Integrated Battle Problem 19 or UxS IBP 26 was organized in California from April 21 to April 21 to practice the skills of interaction between conventional manned aircraft and ships with unmanned counterparts. In a loose translation, this sounds like "unmanned integrated combat mission 21".

In the United States, this event is called the first experiment of its kind with such a broad involvement of robotic combat systems. The military advertised what was happening off the Californian coast quite widely and willingly shared details. Rear Admiral Jim Aiken, curator of the UxS IBP 21 experiment, said in particular:

"Our goal in this exercise is to evaluate unmanned systems and how they can actually work together with manned systems."

Of particular interest, as they say in the West, is the multi-domain nature of what is happening - manned systems and drones work in close interaction in water, under water and in the air.

Two Sea Hunters taking part in the exercise. Source:

The Americans concentrated considerable forces in the waters of the San Diego naval base for conducting exercises. The manned cluster includes the stele destroyer Zumwalt USS Michael Monsoor, four destroyers Arleigh Burke, the cruiser Ticonderoga, the San Antonio USS Portland-class amphibious transport dock and the 688 USS San Francisco SSN-711 submarine.

Operators Sea Hunter and Seahawk. Source:

The air escort was carried out by several P-8A Poseidon patrolmen and an all-seeing electronic eye E-2C Hawkeye. The EA-18G Growler was responsible for suppressing the enemy, as well as the MH-60S Knighthawk and MH-60R Seahawk anti-submarine helicopters.

Remotely controlled vehicles were represented primarily by unmanned medium displacement ships or MDUSV (Medium Displacement Unmanned Surface Vessel). The US Navy includes two ships in this category, the Sea Hunter and the Seahawk. The most tested of them, the Sea Hunter trimaran has already proven itself quite well as an autonomous platform - in 2019, an anti-submarine vessel made the transition from San Diego to Pearl Harbor over a distance of more than 2000 nautical miles and back. The newest Seahawk is an improved version of the "sea hunter", capable of several months of autonomous navigation. From the air, the experimental fleet was guarded by Sea Guardian anti-submarine drones, naval variants of the well-known attack MQ-9 Reaper. An unmanned MQ-8 Fire Scout helicopter was also brought into the exercise.

In the sky, on the water and under the water

In the exercise, one could also see a reconnaissance drone from Vanilla Unmanned with the long name Ultra-Long Flight Endurance Unmanned Air Vehicle or an ultra-long-range unmanned aerial vehicle. This lightweight glider is capable of staying aloft for more than ten days, partly replacing satellite surveillance systems.

Scout from Vanilla Unmanned. Source:

Another unmanned hero can be considered definitely unique - the dual-purpose Triton dual-use from the Ocean Aero company. The boat, more like a surfboard with a sail, is powered by the energy of the wind and the sun. If necessary, a small boat can dive under water and stealthily follow to its destination. In addition, in a submerged position, Triton also overcomes storms, otherwise its fragile structure will simply crumble from the very first serious wave. The drone can be dropped with a parachute to the place of operational work from the side of a transport aircraft and perform reconnaissance, communications and mine-fighting functions. In civilian design, the autonomous vessel is capable of performing a wide range of tasks: from environmental monitoring of the Arctic to meteorological observations throughout the ocean.

Mysterious ADARO. Source:

ADARO. Source:

From the information open to the general public, it is obvious that the Americans did not reveal all the participants in the exercises. So, there was no official information about the small drone ADARO, which was "lit up" in just a couple of photographs from the exercises. Journalists do not really even know what the abbreviation of the name means, but they still unearthed something about the baby. The object is woven according to the canons of stealth technology from composites and is a multipurpose modular platform. You can't put a rocket on such a boat, but the satellite communication equipment will fit perfectly. Unlike the two-average Triton, ADARO is not afraid of rough seas. The developers assure that the boat is completely sealed and capable of impressive somersaults during a storm.

What exactly was stuffed with the secret ADARO at the California exercises is unknown. One of the options could be an Ultra-Blade L-band satellite antenna from Israel's Get SA. Also, surveillance cameras and other reconnaissance equipment may appear on the baby. The Navy plans to use ADARO in conditions where finding any other drone and, moreover, a manned spacecraft is impossible for security reasons. The mentioned pair of Sea Hunter and Seahawk will be one of the possible options for the baby carrier ships.


At first glance, the Americans did not offer anything fundamentally new in the exercises in the area of ​​the California naval base of San Diego. Unmanned aerial vehicles are destined for the role of advanced enemy detection systems. It is expected that swarms of small drones will constantly patrol in their area of ​​operational use, preventing the enemy from slipping unnoticed. If necessary, autonomous reconnaissance aircraft will transmit target designation for hypersonic missiles in real time - the main strike weapon Maritime fleet in future.

The Americans are now working on entire families of drones capable of handling a wide range of missions at sea. Most interesting is the extensive fleet integration program under the Netted Emulation of Multi-Element Signature Against Integrated Sensors or NEMESIS project.

Not much is known about the NEMESIS project. Source:

This is one of the most secret areas of work of the Navy, associated with electronic suppression of enemy forces at sea and in the air. At the same time, swarms of drones will not only interfere with the enemy's reconnaissance, navigation and target designation, but will create phantom objects for strike. In fact, the Americans are ready to fundamentally revolutionize the principles of electronic warfare, moving from the usual suppression of surveillance systems to the formation of false targets by "simulating radio frequency radiation and radar signals from real platforms."

And all this military sailors intend to carry out with the help of drones in three environments: on the water, under water and in the air. Miniature drones will cruise under water, creating acoustic phantoms (imitation of propeller noise) of large submarines in the water area. In particular, for such false targets, the enemy can organize a whole spearfishing, wasting time and effort. The Pentagon did not tell how such "deceivers" themselves would work in conditions of massive electronic suppression.

The military has been working on NEMESIS since 2014 and, very likely, tested the first practical developments in the past exercises. The first theoretical war games involving the resources of a promising system were held in the United States back in 2015–2016. It was at this time that the customers decided on the requirements for the new product.

Serious scientific institutions were involved in the secret project: the Georgia Institute of Technology, the Johns Hopkins Applied Physics Laboratory, the MIT Lincoln Laboratory, the Naval Submarine Warfare Center, the Office of Naval Research, as well as the Naval Information Systems Command. war.

All this suggests that NEMESIS is not just another technological startup for the military, but a fundamental development that requires close attention from Russia.

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  1. OgnennyiKotik
    OgnennyiKotik April 29 2021 18: 09
    The list of participants, almost all types of ships and aircraft that are in service are presented:

    During these exercises, SM-6 hit the barge in the most difficult conditions, out of the "line of sight" of the ship from which it was launched. Control center with UAV or unmanned ship.
    Earlier, an exercise was launched with the launch of 1000 mini UAVs from the C-130. The Navy is purchasing kamikaze drones at Kayot Block 3.

    In general, the Navy is placing high stakes on UAVs and unmanned ships.
    1. Couchexpert
      Couchexpert April 29 2021 18: 15
      Which LCS is in the first picture?
      1. ironic
        ironic April 29 2021 19: 06
        1. OgnennyiKotik
          OgnennyiKotik April 29 2021 21: 20
          And from them (LCS Independence) you get excellent drone control centers. Large internal volumes, large take-off area, low visibility.
          1. ironic
            ironic April 30 2021 14: 02
            Yes, they are generally good platforms for all sorts of supplements for the reasons you listed. As they say in the West scalable system.
    2. dauria
      dauria April 29 2021 19: 52
      big bets on UAVs and unmanned ships.

      The book is a legend. German from the GDR. Before the Olympics -80 ... Unless then, soldering my first transmitter, could I imagine such a future for children's toys? At that time, televisions were switched with pliers. And only two channels. laughing
  2. rocket757
    rocket757 April 29 2021 18: 32
    Drone Games: UxS IBP 21 Experiment Completed in California
    ... They experiment, come up with new things, work out technology, tactics ...
    And that, we have exactly the same, yes, everyone who wants to be ahead, to be strong, to be protected.
  3. OgnennyiKotik
    OgnennyiKotik April 29 2021 18: 34
    News has passed that the ILC are abandoning the RQ-21 Blackjack. One of the options for replacing V-BAT.

    Apparently we were worn out with launching and catching RQ-21. Too many activities and equipment.

    V-BAT is much simpler: the truth is inferior in some parameters.
  4. ares1988
    ares1988 April 29 2021 18: 47
    In the first photo, not a sumvolt, but an independance.
    1. Evgeny Fedorov
      April 29 2021 19: 44
      Thank you! Corrected.
  5. ironic
    ironic April 29 2021 19: 01
    How the LCS in the first picture became Monsoor is magic ...
  6. Alexey Zigalov
    Alexey Zigalov April 29 2021 20: 47
    Eugene, thank you very much for a very good article.
  7. pytar
    pytar April 29 2021 21: 27
    Interesting article! Thanks to the author! hi This is how the wars will be fought tomorrow. And tomorrow is near ...
  8. Knell wardenheart
    Knell wardenheart April 29 2021 22: 16
    The idea itself is good, they throw this good in neutral waters, and in a threatened period all this splendor will be aimed at our submarines in the deployment areas.
    However, in addition to the pluses, all these things have a number of minuses, excessive enthusiasm for them can what is called "backfire".
    1) Like any power supply device, such a device can one day be stolen and meticulously studied / copied. And after all, the ends cannot be found later - you never know such devices break on reefs, for example ..
    2) Accordingly, all recorded signatures from the memory of such a machine will be retrieved - I mean the potential "noise" that it should generate. At the same time, our "partners" will not be unequivocally sure that this device was stolen and not lost.
    3) Relying more and more on the automatic sorting of data from BP systems, the adversary will increasingly depend on potentially manageable streams of disinformation. Accordingly, there will be more opportunities to create "inflatable troops" wherever it is required to create them to distract attention.
    4) Interception of the signal to the satellite can be carried out with a much less technologically advanced device, which unmasks the area where such a drone is located.

    In matters of defense, BP systems, however, clearly have a lot of advantages. So I hope they will study the American available experience and develop something of their own.
    1. OgnennyiKotik
      OgnennyiKotik April 29 2021 23: 03
      Unmanned ships have many use cases, you only mentioned one.
      For the PLO, the Navy ordered the development of a promising medium surface unmanned ship (MUSV, Medium Unmanned Surface Vessel), optionally armed. 40 of them are planned for purchase. Autonomous unmanned submarines are also tested. They really plan to deploy an ASW network of unmanned surface and submarine ships. Naturally, there are difficulties and oppositions, where can we go without them.

      At the same exercises, Interaction was worked out precisely during active hostilities. When the drones carried out communications, reconnaissance and command control. In general, it is possible to transfer all active radar equipment, sonars, RTR, electronic warfare, decoys, communication systems, etc. to them. Weapons are debatable, torpedoes against submarines are still norms, something is not very powerful somehow. And there is the issue of tonnage.
      Gathering KUG / AUG, the main ships go into radio silence or disguise themselves as civilian ships. A swarm of UAVs, unmanned sub / surface ships are actively working on reconnaissance, detection and control of the enemy forces, mine action. Their work is supervised, for example, by LCS Independence. Accordingly, the main group of ships KUG reveals itself only when striking, but immediately after it hides behind false targets that completely imitate their work.
      1. Knell wardenheart
        Knell wardenheart April 29 2021 23: 25
        Nice, but I think this scenario will have even more problems.
        Potential means of detecting these small devices will cost much less than themselves - they will probably be UAVs designed to stay over the water area for a long time and detect any targets and movements within its boundaries. Such devices can be armed with an automatic cannon of not the largest caliber or any large-caliber weapon. Since the UAV is in the air, it has the advantage of altitude / speed / reaction time - if a target is detected, it will either knock it down or signal detection. Countermeasures to the target, other than immersion, are much more costly - because shooting down a drone is much more difficult than being shot down by a drone. If the UAV can be launched from any platform that is more or less suitable for this, then the devices operating in the water element are much more difficult to transport unnoticed - and then the enemy is either forced to unmask his intentions through logistics in one way or another, or is forced to enlarge these funds and increase their cost. through improving the performance characteristics of their sensorics.

        In short, I see potential countermeasures against the attacking use of such systems as much more budgetary, so at the moment the benefits in this area are questionable.
        Another thing is that with the deployment of OneWeb'o shaped bells and whistles, it will be possible to fill the water area of ​​the potential enemy with relatively small-sized and deshman tracking-guidance devices. This will be much more dangerous ..
        1. OgnennyiKotik
          OgnennyiKotik April 29 2021 23: 33
          Yes, projects like OneWeb / Starlink are very dangerous in that they can remove restrictions on communication. China is also planning an analogue, as is the US military.
          Quote: Knell Wardenheart
          In short, "at a glance" potential measures to counter the attacking use of such systems seem to me much more budgetary, in this regard, at the moment, the benefits in this area are doubtful

          The eternal struggle of the shield and the sword. I still see more organizational and technical difficulties. Teachings like this help solve them. It is a pity that they are with them, not with us.
          1. Knell wardenheart
            Knell wardenheart April 29 2021 23: 38
            Well, the UAV is so good that, in general, at the moment it is practically a "weapon of homeless people". The development and use of medium or non-strategic UAVs is much less expensive than any other modern weapon, and in fact the exercises will be cheaper. So, of course, there is a question of political will and the ability of the military at US to perceive some new trends. Potentially, a UAV for the needs of the defense of our country is an extremely topical development because our ability to maintain and modernize large forces decreases over time in dynamics.
            As far as I understand, now there is some progress in the development of such devices, but it feels like we have not yet fully understood the potential and importance.
            1. OgnennyiKotik
              OgnennyiKotik April 29 2021 23: 56
              The term UAV is very broad.

              If we talk about the United States, then this is a completely different class of UAVs. For example, the 6th generation NGAD and F / A-XX fighter, the SR-72 hypersonic interceptor / striker. They are neither cheap nor simple. And what they currently have, I would not call the MQ-9 / RQ-4 cheap.
              The fact that UAVs are a “weapon for the poor” is a misconception. Yes, there is for the poor, but very rich countries invest huge sums in them, not because they are cheap or simple, but because they have unique properties that are inaccessible to a pilot.
              1. Knell wardenheart
                Knell wardenheart April 30 2021 00: 02
                Uh-huh, that's why I singled out
                Development and use secondary or not strategic UAV is much less expensive than any other modern weapon

                These are different types of weapons and the approach to them is accordingly different. Some devices require increased armament or stealth or high aerodynamic characteristics, and the tasks of UAVs for the needs of the defense of their territory seem to me much more modest, most of them could well fit into the "average" size, since there are no such high requirements as are imposed the same "Hunters". The price, accordingly, would also come out lower and much.
                Of course, we should also develop expensive high-tech devices, but the niche of strong middle peasants in the context of defense is quite justified.
                1. OgnennyiKotik
                  OgnennyiKotik April 30 2021 00: 17
                  Quote: Knell Wardenheart
                  the niche of tough middle peasants in the context of defense is quite justified.

                  Sure. We are fighting here and now. And the opponents are different. And quantity is usually more important than quality in a big war.
                  In fact, the average is the most demanded.
  9. Nikolaevich I
    Nikolaevich I April 29 2021 23: 51
    As always, problems with terminology! "Everything to the heap and into the compote"! Will we ever decide where are the "drones" and where are the "droids"? I just got used to it. That "drones" are UAVs; that is, unmanned flying devices ... because the drone (!), as the "authors", began to "pour" a bunch of drones on the poor fans of military reading, not flying, but surface, underwater, ground! Some of the authors of "lightly popular" articles suggested calling humanoid robots androids; and "inhuman", but serving people-droids ... (droids, in my opinion, are "present" in "Star Wars" ...) In a certain sense , he is right (!) ... it is difficult to live in a society where there is no differentiation by the color of pants and not understand "xy from xy", that is: what is what ... where is the drone, and where is the droid! am
    1. OgnennyiKotik
      OgnennyiKotik April 30 2021 00: 08
      The classification is straightforward ... difficult. Vaughn laid out a sheet of 17 variants of the UAV above, and that does not cover everything. And with sea and land technology without a person, nothing is clear at all. There is still the same zoo.
      This is because the technology class is young, there is no accepted classification. It's good that the network is coming to a single term UAV, but battles with drones and UAVs continue.
  10. Nikolaevich I
    Nikolaevich I April 30 2021 01: 42
    Stirlitz's dialogue with the Wehrmacht general: You can expect anything from the Reds, however, from the Americans too .... I have been at war with them for a year already. These fools will be destroyed by their own technique they think the war can be won by bombing alone. They will build up their technical power and drown in it. She will decompose them like rust. They will decide that they can do anything. Reds think so because they are wild and beggars Americans think so because they are too rich ...
    1. voyaka uh
      voyaka uh April 30 2021 10: 03
      "They will build up their technical power and drown in it." ///
      The Wehrmacht general was wrong. They did not choke at all.
      They are still building up quite successfully.