US Navy aims to field manned-unmanned fleet within 10 years.

By Megan Eckstein

Photo: U.S. Navy surface drones Sea Hawk, left, and Sea Hunter are launched during the service’s first-ever unmanned exercise in San Diego, Calif. (MC2 Thomas Gooley/U.S. Navy)

The U.S. Navy plans to operate a fleet of crewed and unmanned platforms within the next 10 years — an ambitious timeline that will require the service to quickly develop and mature autonomous systems, while ensuring confidence in the technology.

In the air, for example, the Next Generation Air Dominance family of systems set to replace the Super Hornet fighter fleet will include a combination of the piloted F/A-XX fighter with drones dubbed loyal wingmen. This is something the Navy already budgeted for, even as it’s only barely scratched the surface of testing how a large UAV can interact with the air wing.

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US Navy aims to field manned-unmanned fleet within 10 years (

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