US to deploy 100 sea drones in the Gulf region in 2023
US CENTCOM chief says that Task Force 59 based in Bahrain will deploy 100 unmanned vessels in the Gulf region in 2023 to combat threats.
The chief of US Central Command (CENTCOM) General Michael Kurilla announced on Saturday that US-led Task Force 59 will be deploying 100 unmanned vessels in the waters of the gulf region.
Kurilla made the statement at the annual Manama Dialogue conference in Bahrain.
The CENTCOM chief added that the purpose of the vessels will be to deal with what he called "threats" in the region's waters.
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This announcement came after reports of a drone strike that targeted an oil tanker belonging to an Israeli billionaire off the coast of Oman earlier this week emerged, which the US and "Israel" accused Iran of.
Reports revealed that the targeted ship is a Liberian-flagged oil tanker Pacific Zircon, which is operated by Singapore-based Eastern Pacific Shipping and ultimately owned by Israeli billionaire Idan Ofer.
Iranian TV citing informed sources commented on the incident saying that "targeting the oil tanker is an Israeli act that was implemented in cooperation with some regimes in the region."
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"The goal behind the attack on the tanker is to accuse Iran and cast a shadow over the preparations for the World Cup in Qatar," the Iranian sources said, noting that "Israel as well as others that boycotted Qatar, especially Saudi Arabia and the UAE, will spare no effort in showing hostility to it," the sources said.
Chief Kurilla added that "by this time next year, Task Force 59 will bring together a fleet of over 100 unmanned surface and subsurface vessels operating together, communicating together, and providing maritime domain awareness."
Task Force 59 was established in Bahrain in September of 2021, where the Fifth Fleet of the US navy is based, and its mission is to merge AI technologies with unmanned systems into American operations in the region.
The US is "building an experimentation program here in the Middle East to beat adversary drones with our partners," the chief said without going into further details, adding that the advancing of "adversary drones" is the most imminent threat to the security in the region.
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It's noteworthy that earlier in September, an Iranian naval flotilla briefly seized two American military unmanned research vessels in the Red Sea before releasing them.
The Pentagon later revealed that an Iranian ship seized an American military drone vessel in the Gulf "after a US Navy patrol boat and helicopter were deployed to the location."
The US Central Command's Fifth Fleet said a support ship from Iran's Islamic Revolution Guard Corps Navy, the Shahid Baziar, was spotted towing the seven-meter (23-foot) Saildrone Explorer unmanned surface vessel (USV).