THE Royal Navy is seeking to increase its use of maritime drones across the fleet.
Unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) are already in use to survey and destroy sea mines laid in the Gulf and the Mediterranean.
The SeaFox robots, which are controlled from a ship’s operations room, have become a key piece of kit for the navy’s minehunter ships.
The technology could now be developed further after military chiefs expressed a desire to procure a new generation of drones capable of attacking submarines and ships. The UUVs could also be used in the pirate-infested waters off Somalia.
Although the drones are not being sought as a replacement for warships, their use could ease pressure on the navy’s increasingly stretched fleet.
A new MoD report sets out how it wants defence firms to help develop sea drones ‘to provide greater support to maritime operations such as mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare and missile defence’.
It comes after the army’s success of using unmanned aircraft to track Taliban fighters in Afghanistan.
A Royal Navy spokesman told The News: ‘We are always looking at the next best thing to make sure we are have the best fighting force available.’