NATO and Swedish Rafael Advance Defense Systems carried out a joint training exercise involving the Protector Unmanned Surface Vehicle off the Israeli coast this month, demonstrating the USV’s capabilities against naval swarm threats.
The exercise involved a simulated swarm attack by a number of hostile vessels against an unidentified NATO warship. The ship reported back to headquarters, and the Protector USV identified and “neutralized” the threat from a long distance firing of a Spike missile at the target.
The Protector has different variants, including the AT/FP equipped with a high-pressure water cannon system for securing marine, offshore and coastal assets, for use against radars and anti-ship missiles; and the SSM with integrated Spike-ER surface-to-surface missile launcher.
The first successful Spike missile tests were announced in March 2017. The capability allows pin-point attacks of land or naval targets.
Originally developed for maritime scientific research in the 1990s, there is an increasing interest in USV for military use, including harbor security and mine-sweeping as well as littoral and other offensive operations.
Flash Point Military News 2018.