The exercise, known as Robotic Experimentation and Prototyping Augmented by Maritime Unmanned Systems (REP(MUS)), was hosted by the Portuguese Navy and took place in the North Atlantic Portuguese Exercise Areas, ending Sept. 24.
In February 2019, by invitation of the Portuguese Head of Delegation, the MUSI Steering Board embraced REP(MUS) as its flagship exercise for Operational Experimentation activities. They joined in partnership with other lead coordinators, University of Porto, and the NATO Center for Maritime Research and Experimentation (CMRE). The scope of the exercise continues to advance and evolve in order to keep pace with the exciting technologies and systems that are deployed and developed.
Some 15 NATO allies and partners participated in REP(MUS) 21, along with multiple organizations and commands within the NATO structure and from the host nation Portugal. The exercise set the stage to deliver several groundbreaking exercise objectives, including the development and evaluation of operational concepts involving manned/unmanned teaming, exploiting MUS capabilities to enhance maritime situational awareness, and the evaluation of a variety of MUS payloads and associated communication networks across all domains. More importantly and the most impressive, the exercise pushed the boundaries of interoperability between Allied Maritime Unmanned Systems.
“At REP(MUS) 21, we demonstrated the force multiplying effect that can be achieved when multinational systems are not only Interoperable, but also Interchangeable (I2I), paving the way for combined operations with conventional and unmanned allied forces in the future, " said Andrea R. Bell-Miller, Program Executive Office Unmanned and Small Combatants (PEO USC), U.S. Head of Delegation to the NATO MUSI and REP(MUS) 21 USA Exercise Director. "This was achieved through the integration of two C2 systems, the United States Common Control System (CCS) and the United Kingdom’s MAPLE UxS C2 system. Some of the hallmark accomplishments include dynamic re-tasking and shared use of multi-national UxS resources across distributed C2 nodes at Sea (USNS Carson City) and ashore (Maritime Operations Centre, PO Naval Base Troia), this enabled agile transfer of tactical control (TACON) between nations – a world first!”
This handover and seamless coordination between missions and national control systems will greatly enhance the agility and capability of Allied Maritime Forces in the future. The flexibility I2I provides to commanders will increase concentration of force, range and persistence where it is needed most. Ms. Bell-Miller, as U.S. Head of Delegation and USA Exercise Director, led the groundbreaking I2I efforts from planning to execution.
The REP(MUS) exercise is a hotbed of innovation and this was proven once more in 2021 as participants put new and emerging concepts to the test in a variety of operational environments and warfare areas. Among these participants were members of the NATO Maritime Unmanned Systems Coordination Cell, and units and personnel from U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. Sixth Fleet.
"It was so pleasing to see that despite the planning challenges posed by the pandemic, the lead nations were still able to deliver world firsts in the sphere of maritime unmanned systems operations," said Sean Trevethan, Director of the Coordination Cell.
U.S. Sixth Fleet and units and personnel from Sixth Fleet Task Forces also brought enhanced capability and capacity to Portugal.
"U.S. Sixth Fleet's participation in REP(MUS) 21 with the USNS Carson City (T-EPF-7) provided an at sea command and control node to integrate and demonstrate unmanned systems," said Anthony Constable, Office of Naval Research Global Science Advisor, U.S. Naval Forces Europe and Africa/U.S. Sixth Fleet. "The crew of Carson City, along with elements of Commander, Task Force 68, practiced executing UUV mission sets and interacting with other unmanned systems throughout the maritime domain, including systems belonging to NATO allies and partners.”
PEO (USC) provides the Navy with the design, development, build, maintenance and modernization of unmanned maritime systems, mine warfare systems and small surface combatants.
U.S. Sixth Fleet, headquartered in Naples, Italy, conducts full spectrum joint and naval operations, often in concert with allied and interagency partners in order to advance U.S. national interests and security and stability in Europe and Africa.
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