Bahrain agreed with the United States to accelerate integrating new unmanned systems into regional maritime operations.
During a visit to @NSA_Bahrain, Sept. 23, Bahraini leaders committed to partnering with U.S. Naval Forces Central Command to accelerate integration of new unmanned systems into regional maritime operations.https://t.co/lIFxhFWjqI
— U.S. 5th Fleet (@US5thFleet) September 23, 2021
This includes both UAVs as well as unmanned maritime and underwater vehicles.
In a statement, the US Navy’s Bahrain-based 5th Fleet said officials of the two sides visited American facilities in the Arab country, including the US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), to discuss details of the cooperation.
“We want to put more systems out in the maritime domain above, on and below the sea,” Vice Adm. Brad Cooper, who leads the US Navy’s 5th Fleet, said in a statement. “We want more eyes on what’s happening out there.”
It wasn’t specifically stated what unmanned system were considered, but photos show a Mark 18 Mod 1 unmanned underwater vehicle, an unmanned aerial vehicle V-BAT system, a Razorback unmanned underwater vehicle and others.
The 5th Fleet’s mission includes the crucial Strait of Hormuz, a narrow channel linking the Persian Gulf with the Gulf of Oman and the Arabian Sea, through where 30 percent of the world’s seaborne-traded crude oil passes every day.
It also stretches to the Suez Canal, the waterway in Egypt linking the Mideast to the Mediterranean, and the Bab el-Mandeb Strait off Yemen.
According to reports, the systems being used by the 5th Fleet’s new ‘Task Force 59’ will include some of those involved in an April test led by the Navy’s Pacific Fleet, such as ultra-endurance aerial surveillance drones, surface ships and smaller underwater drones that resemble torpedoes.
“I think that environment really suits us well to experiment and move faster,” Cooper said in a statement. “And our belief is if the new systems can work here, they can probably work anywhere else and can scale them across other fleets.”
Cooper acknowledged tensions with Iran in his remarks last week, but refused to touch on specifics.
“We’re very aware of Iran’s posture and we’ll be prepared to deal with that appropriately,” he stated. “I’m going to leave it at that.”
There have been many close encounters between the vessels from Iran and the US in the Persian Gulf region.
A commander of the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC)’s Navy last month said the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz are fully secure, stressing that foreign powers are not welcome in the region.
“There is full security in all water borders of the Persian Gulf and the Strait of Hormuz, and we always stand ready to ensure the security of the Islamic Republic’s interests in international waters,” Rear Admiral Alireza Tangsiri said.
He added that Iran fully monitors the movements of every vessel that enters or exits the strategic Strait of Hormuz.
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