The Marines are looking for ways to leverage artificial intelligence and autonomy to find sea mines as they improve their ability to conduct littoral combat operations.
A recent posting on the government website fbo.gov shows that the Marine Corps Rapid Capability Office is seeking such technology as early as fiscal year 2019 to “detect, analyze and neutralize” explosive ordnance in very shallow water and the surf zone.
Chinese maritime doctrine and equipment development in recent years has included strategies to deploy scores of sea mines in key ocean chokepoints.
Today’s Navy fleet is too small to afford the Marines the opportunity to train for large-scale amphibious assaults.
Rudimentary naval mines have dotted the waters off the coast of Yemen, planted by the Houthi rebels to shut off shipping and movements of the national Army and the Arab coalition.
There are existing technologies that could be brought on board soon, according to the posting.
Some of those include remotely operated vehicles, unmanned underwater vehicles and aerial drones combined with sensors to detect and analyze ordnance.
Officials want three prototypes for the office to evaluate. They must be able to seek out and handle the ordnance at depths from less than 10 feet in the surf out to shallow water depths at the 40- to 200-foot range.
The technology will help personnel identify those items from short distance, stand-off ranges to see if it’s hazardous or nonhazardous.
Once it identifies the item it must then be able to render it incapable of firing or detonating.
The remote-control portion can run either tethered or with radio signals. It must also accurately send back geolocation information to ‘mark’ the ordnance.
It must also be man-portable and can be launched and recovered from a small boat, like a combat rubber raiding craft. Initially, it must be a two-man launch but the goal is to have a one-man launchable device.