So perhaps the future is hundreds or even thousands
of small and disposable systems acting in unison to
defeat surface threats or find and destroy mines and
submarines, he said.
Singer noted that even Islamic State of Iraq and Syria
(ISIS) extremists were employing this kind of concept in
the field to counter the U.S. military’s expensive, specialized weapons.
“Overhead, the U.S. military is flying million-dollar
drones,” he said. “ISIS is operating scores of cheap,
small, tiny drones to drop single grenades on targets.
Those are two very different visions, and the ‘Ghost
Fleet’ book looks at how both these visions were likely
to be woven into the future of war.”
Singer said the novel has more than 400 end notes,
so it is meant to be a realistic snapshot of the future
of warfare and not just a thriller to be consumed on a
weekend. However, he said he cannot take credit for
inventing the concept of a “ghost fleet.”
“[The Navy’s concept] certainly builds upon things
that have been there,” he said. “Some of the elements,
the swarming side of it, and the moving away from the
large, expensive platforms, that part seems like a bit of
a break [from tradition].”
Singer said the concept is becoming more real because
the technology now is feasible and inexpensive enough to
put in the field.
“It’s becoming more and more realistic in terms of
a conceivable and fundable timeline,” he said. “Some
of these concepts that are in there have been kicked
around for literally decades, but now it’s getting to,
‘Oh, I can buy that.’” n
Unmanned rigid-hull inflatable boats operating autonomously close in on a contact of interest during an Office of Naval Research-sponsored demonstration of swarmboat technology held at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Fort Story, Va., Sept. 30. The Navy has launched an effort to create an
autonomous network of surface, air and underwater systems that can work together to conduct a range of operations in the maritime domain.
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