How far is the era of unmanned navy?

   China’s first nationally-produced 100-ton unmanned boat recently completed its first maritime autonomous navigation test in the waters off Zhoushan, Zhejiang. Although it is still in the testing stage, foreign media have been hyping that the unmanned boat may bring significant changes to the Chinese naval combat model.
   The news of the successful maiden voyage of China’s unmanned boats has attracted so much attention from the outside world because unmanned surface ships and unmanned underwater vehicles that can navigate autonomously are becoming the key development direction of today’s navies. According to the website of the US Naval Institute, in the upcoming “Pacific Rim-2022” multinational joint exercise, the US Navy will dispatch all four types of unmanned surface ships to test their ability to cooperate with the manned fleet.
   “All four unmanned surface ships will be spread out and will be working with different task force commanders in RIMPAC to exercise our capabilities from a command and control and payload perspective.” The focus of naval development is on unmanned ships? Military experts said that the application of unmanned boats in the military field has broad prospects. First, as a common advantage of unmanned equipment, unmanned boats can perform tasks in high-threat environments without considering operator casualties. Second, unmanned boats with high stealth, low noise, high seaworthiness and comprehensive situational awareness are very suitable for performing tasks such as forward reconnaissance, air defense, anti-submarine, and anti-ship after carrying the corresponding weapons and equipment. Because it can work in high sea conditions, the unmanned boat with this design can not only conduct coastal patrols, but also go out to the ocean with manned ships. Third, the cost of unmanned boats is lower than that of large manned ships. Once the technology is mature, it is suitable for large-scale construction. Fourth, the emergence of unmanned boats may change the rules of future naval warfare, and a large number of new tactics are expected to be born. For example, a swarm of unmanned boats dispatched in large numbers can not only perform distributed operations, making opponents pay attention to one another, but also perform sea swarm operations to win by quantity.
   It is especially worth mentioning that the U.S. Navy has vigorously developed the concept of “distributed operations” in recent years, emphasizing “distributing combat forces in a wide range of space, multiple combat fields and various types of carrying platforms to obtain the combat capabilities necessary to control the ocean.” . Because the U.S. Navy is mainly based on expensive large and medium-sized ships, it cannot meet the quantitative requirements of distributed operations at all, and unmanned ships meet the needs of the U.S. Navy in terms of price, quantity and risk, so it has become an important issue for the future development of the U.S. Navy. direction.

   As of June 14, 110 days have passed since Russia launched a “special military operation” against Ukraine. During these 110 days, the war has continued to show ups and downs, and it has become the largest, most casualty and most far-reaching war since the new century.
   In early June, Zelensky said that the daily casualty figure of the Ukrainian army is as high as 500, and the outside world is generally considered to be conservative, but even so, the rate of casualties has exceeded the birth rate of newborn babies in Ukraine in 2021. , and will accumulate to a horrific scale of nearly 60,000 people in 110 days. The actual losses suffered by Ukraine must be far greater than this data. Ukraine has already started general mobilization after the war, and it still maintains the stability of the scale of its troops.
   On June 14, Zelensky said that he expected that by the end of June, the number of Russian soldiers killed in action would reach 40,000. The BBC Russian Channel made statistics on the list of Russian officers and soldiers killed in action. These lists came from Russian domestic media and social media. Obituaries and other information on the platform are quite credible. According to this statistic, as of June 13, there were 3,528 names of Russian soldiers killed in action, while on June 3, the number was 3,211, an average daily increase of 32, which is similar to the number of dead soldiers since the start of the war. The total increase speed is basically synchronized.
   At the same time, the Donbas Armed Forces announced that since the start of the war to June 9, the Donetsk Armed Forces had killed 2,048 people and injured 8,459 people, while the Luhansk Armed Forces had killed about 500 people in January after the war. No casualty figures were released. Because of the heavy casualties, the Donbas region has launched a general mobilization one month after the start of the war, sending as many young and middle-aged men as possible to the battlefield.
   The above data is accumulated, and the 110-day war has caused about 100,000 casualties between the two armies, an average of about 1,000 people per day.

   According to foreign media reports, from April 25 to May 13, the U.S. Army held the 2022 “Edge” exercise at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah. The exercise is organized and implemented by the U.S. Army Futures Command and will be held for the first time in 2021, once a year. The 2022 exercise mainly evaluates new technologies and tactics in the field of military aviation, involving drone swarm operations, open weapon systems, etc., to ensure that the US Army maintains an advantage in future conflicts and defeats its opponents.
   One of the highlights of the exercise was to test the Army’s “air-launched effect” UAV. During the exercise, the U.S. Army participants successively released 4 batches of “air-launched effect” UAV swarms. The first batch of UAV swarms carried out reconnaissance, the second batch of UAV swarms was used as an “auxiliary means” to suppress firepower, the third batch of UAV swarms performed strike missions, and the fourth batch of UAV swarms conducted battle damage assessment. Among them, a single batch of UAVs consists of up to 7 UAVs, and is controlled by one person on the ground.
   The U.S. Army refers to this combat method as “wolf pack tactics” for drones, and distinguishes it from “bee colony tactics.” “Swarm tactics” are where a single drone swarm is responsible for the entire “kill chain”. “Wolf Pack Tactics” consists of multiple drone swarms, with a single drone swarm responsible for a single mission. By releasing multiple UAV swarms in batches and connecting them through the air-ground network, each mission fleet can be connected back and forth to complete combat missions together. The U.S. Army believes that the “wolf group tactics” make up for the problems caused by the insufficient combat capability of a single drone group in the “bee colony tactics”. At the same time, this tactic of using UAV swarms by task and in batches and layers allows front-line fighters to intervene in battles only when necessary.
   In recent years, the U.S. Army has introduced so-called modular weapon systems to enhance the Army’s attack-reconnaissance advantage. This modular weapons launch system will be equipped with the next generation of armed reconnaissance helicopters, capable of launching a variety of missiles and drones. According to the U.S. Army, this modular weapon system enables the U.S. Army Air Force to use different missiles to ensure that future armed reconnaissance aircraft integrate and launch multiple weapon systems. Taking into account the complexity of the future battlefield, the US Army said that it will gradually verify and apply these new technologies and new equipment to achieve the expected combat results.

   The annual report released by Sweden’s Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI) on June 13 shows that despite a slight decrease in the number of nuclear warheads worldwide in 2021, nuclear arsenals are expected to expand over the next decade. Estimates as of the beginning of this year put the global number of nuclear warheads down to 12,705, down 375 from last year’s 13,080, the report said. Of these, about 9,440 are stored in military stockpiles for potential use; an estimated 3,732 are deployed on missiles and aircraft, and another 2,000 or so — almost all Russian or U.S. — are at high readiness.
   While the combined stockpiles of nuclear warheads in Russia and the United States will continue to decline in 2021, this is due to the dismantling and disposal of warheads retired several years ago in both countries. In 2021, the number of warheads in available military stockpiles in both countries remains relatively stable. Agence France-Presse said on the 13th that as the United States and Russia gradually reduce the huge nuclear arsenals accumulated during the Cold War, the global number of nuclear warheads has been on a downward trend from a high of more than 70,000 in 1986. But Hans Christensen, associate senior fellow in the SIPRI Weapons of Mass Destruction Program and director of the Nuclear Information Program at the Federation of American Scientists (FAS), said there are clear signs that the global reductions in nuclear arsenals that have characterized the end of the Cold War have come to an end.
   Wilfred Wan, director of the SIPRI Weapons of Mass Destruction Program, said all nuclear-armed countries are adding or upgrading their nuclear arsenals, and most are strengthening nuclear rhetoric and the role of nuclear weapons in their military strategies. This is a very worrying trend. Matt Korda, associate researcher at SIPRI’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Program and senior fellow at the FAS Nuclear Information Program, said that if nuclear-armed states do not take immediate and concrete disarmament action, the global stockpile of nuclear warheads could soon be overrun since the Cold War. positive growth for the first time.

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