THE PERSIAN GULF (CBSDC) – Hold your breath, drone lovers. Literally.
Amid concerns of Iran closing the Strait of Hormuz during a potential crisis, the U.S. Navy is beginning to develop and release a set of underwater drones to find and destroy sea mines present in the Persian Gulf, according to U.S. officials.
Multiple news outlets reported Thursday that tensions concerning Iran’s nuclear program set in motion the reinforcement of U.S. military personnel and weaponry in the region, specifically in the form of the “SeaFox,” a four-foot, 88-pound unmanned, underwater surveillance vehicle that’s guided by a remote control.
In February, the Navy implemented dozens of SeaFox drones after an immediate request by Marine Gen. James Mattis, the head U.S. commander serving in the Middle East, according to media reports. The underwater drones have been arriving in recent weeks, not a coincidence considering the talks between the U.S. and Iran over the fate of Iran’s nuclear development program have stalled. Officials have said that the advent of the underwater drones would pose a significant commercial threat to maritime traffic.
The Los Angeles Times reports that the first SeaFox drones have been developed by a Germany company that was once owned by BAE Systems, the British defense juggernaut.
The SeaFox drone might be new to American military strategies, but the model has been around for some time now. Costing around $100,000 each, the SeaFox drone has been made available for a decade and is currently used by 10 countries, including Great Britain, according to the Times.