Navy expedites waterborne drones to close gap with China

  • In this image provided by the U.S. Navy, a Saildrone Explorer, front to rear, a Devil Ray T-38 crewless vessel, a littoral combat ship, and a U.S. Coast Guard cutter sail in the Arabian Gulf, on June 26, 2022. The Navy is expediting development of drone ships aimed at expanding the reach of offensive firepower while keeping sailors on traditional warships farther from harm's way. (U.S. Navy photo by Chief Mass Communication Specialist Roland A. Franklin via AP)

  • In this image provided by the U.S. Navy, a Sea Hunter, a crewless vessel, arrives at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, to participate in the Rim of Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022, on June 29. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Aiko Bongolan/via AP)

Facing a growing threat from China, the Navy envisions drone ships keeping an electronic eye on enemy forces across the vast Pacific Ocean, extending the reach of firepower, and keeping sailors out of harm’s way.