Last week, the German Navy published its vision for the Navy 2035+, the subheading of which is “Energetic entry into unmanned systems and artificial intelligence”.
The need to deter Russian aggression requires German Navy to maintain a high level of combat readiness and presence in the North Atlantic as well as in the North and Baltic Seas. “At the same time, technical innovations are massively changing conditions in maritime operations area. New underwater sensors and comprehensive land-, air- and space-based reconnaissance are making the battlefield increasingly transparent. From the resulting large amounts of data, complex IT systems, in future also with help of artificial intelligence, are generating comprehensive situation pictures,” describes the naval vision paper. “This goes hand in hand with powerful weapon systems of potential adversaries, some of which are extremely difficult to defend against. There is less and less time for defensive reactions. Because additional failures are to be expected in combat, this underscores the value of quantity – it’s mass that matters.”
According to the 2035+ target picture, this mass is to be ensured primarily by new systems. For the existing platforms, numbers deviate only marginally from earlier plans. However, the navy vision mentions a new class of ship for the first time, the “Future Combat Surface System”, whose range of tasks includes surface warfare as a complement to the existing corvettes. The German Navy is planning up to 18 of these new units.
The silhouette of the “Future Combat Surface System” used in the paper is very reminiscent of a speedboat with containers or modules at the stern. These containers could contain the twelve Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (with helicopter silhouette) additionally called for in the navy vision. After all, Bundeswehr uses Skeldar V-200 helicopter drone on the corvettes, and while previous plans assumed ten corvettes, the paper envisages only six to nine corvettes.
Also newly added and mentioned for the first time are up to six “Large Unmanned Underwater Vehicles” as a supplement to the submarines, six “Unmanned Aerial Systems” as a supplement to the maritime reconnaissance aircraft, as well as “Unmanned MCM System or Mine Countermeasures Toolbox”, here no agreement could be reached on a possible number before the navy vision was published.
Dorothee Frank, Head of editorial team