David Phillips and Wayne Prender, senior vice presidents at Textron, have said that the U.S. Navy should consider deploying vessels with unmanned or optionally manned configurations to prevent further challenges in fleet sustainment.
Phillips and Prender wrote in an opinion piece published Tuesday on Defense News that procuring a significant amount of mission-specific vessels is “not ideal“ and that the Department of Navy should instead shift its focus toward integrating and experimenting with multidomain capabilities.
They noted that acquiring derivatives of existing ships would result in a more diverse fleet of manned and unmanned vessels that can carry interchangeable payloads and conduct a variety of missions such as cargo resupply and fleet situational awareness.
Fleet variants could also support unmanned logistics missions and cargo hauling while operating alongside larger manned assets like the light amphibious warship, they added.
“Buying scaled derivatives of existing program craft will bring additional benefits, including cost savings through economies of scale for acquisition, while minimizing any upfront developmental costs, as hull forms, key components and systems largely already exist,“ Prender and Phillips said.
“Moreover, because much of the basic systems and components will be common, training, maintenance and repair functions can be streamlined, adding yet more savings over the vessels' life cycles.“