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Israel, US wrap up a four-day navy drill in Red Sea

Emanuel (Mannie) Fabian is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Israeli Navy vessels sail alongside US naval drones in the Gulf of Aqaba, in an image published by the military on September 22, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)
Israeli Navy vessels sail alongside US naval drones in the Gulf of Aqaba, in an image published by the military on September 22, 2022. (Israel Defense Forces)

Israel and the United States wrap up a four-day navy drill in the Gulf of Aqaba in the Red Sea, involving American naval drones.

During the drill — dubbed “Digital Shield” — Israeli Navy manned vessels from the 915th Fleet and Snapir Unit sailed alongside unmanned systems of the US 5th Fleet’s Task Force 59, according to statements from both militaries.

The Israel Defense Forces says the drill was aimed at “strengthening cooperation” and using “artificial intelligence as part of the operational toolbox.”

According to the US Naval Forces Central Command (NAVCENT), the drill also focused on “enhancing maritime awareness using unmanned systems and artificial intelligence in support of vessel boarding operations.”

“The cooperation of the forces on manned and unmanned platforms is an innovative opportunity to build an extensive maritime image and to integrate other parties and forces to work together in the maritime arena, with all of them having a common goal, to maintain the security of the region and the various shipping routes,” says Brig. Gen. Daniel Hagri in remarks provided by the IDF.

“Integrating unmanned systems with our partners advances our integration efforts. Ultimately, we are strengthening ties and innovating new capabilities with regional partners to enhance maritime security,” says Lt. Cmdr. William Ricketts of Task Force 59, in remarks published by NAVCENT.

Earlier this month, Iran attempted to seize two US Saildrone Explorers in the Red Sea, the same type of naval drones used in the recent drill, along with a Devil Ray T-38 model.

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