Navy to soon host industry days for advanced unmanned systems development to comply with congressional mandate

The Navy in the coming weeks will host industry days for companies interested in learning more about opportunities to work on the service’s unmanned systems initiatives, according to officials.
Sea Hunter, an autonomous unmanned surface vehicle, arrives at Pearl Harbor to participate in the Rim of Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Aiko Bongolan)

The Navy in the coming weeks will host industry days for companies interested in learning more about opportunities to work on the service’s unmanned systems initiatives, according to service officials.

Speaking Monday at an ASNE symposium, Rob Iera, principal assistant program manager for unmanned maritime systems, PMS 406, revealed the plan to hold them in “about a month” and noted they will “cover the breadth of the Navy’s unmanned technologies.”

Naval Sea Systems Command will issue a formal announcement on or another platform “pretty soon,” Rear Adm. Casey Moton, program executive officer for unmanned and small combatants, later told DefenseScoop during a meeting with reporters at the conference.

Program offices such as PMS 406 have previously held industry days. However, “what we’re going to do this time is a broader one. We’re going to try and basically give a pretty wide breadth of on all of [information on] our unmanned programs and autonomy,” Moton said.


This was partly driven by Section 862 of the fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act, according to Moton.

Among other provisions, the legislation directed that no later than March 1, 2023 — and every 180 days thereafter — the military departments must conduct an outreach event to “collaborate with the private sector on present current and future opportunities with respect to key advanced system development areas” and “raise awareness” within the private sector of key advanced system development areas, capability needs and existing and potential requirements related to those areas.

For the Department of the Navy, that applies to unmanned surface vessels; unmanned underwater vessels; unmanned deployable mobile ocean systems; unmanned deployable fixed ocean systems; and autonomous unmanned aircraft systems.

Officials must “identify related and potentially related existing, planned, or potential military requirements,” including urgent and emergent operational needs; potentially related needs or gaps in the capabilities of the military department to carry out the missions of the military department, including warfighting and combat support capabilities; identify and describe related and potentially related exercise, demonstration, or experimentation opportunities.

They must also provide details about related existing, planned, or potential acquisition plans and strategies and funding opportunities.


The annual policy bill “required not just the Navy, but the Air Force and Army to also do periodic industry days on advanced system development. And so I would say, you know, we were already doing industry days, but we are also doing the one that’s coming up … to satisfy the requirement of statute, right. And then we would then do these every 180 days,” Moton said.

“As I looked at the language, I think Congress was making a completely fair statement that there’s just lots going on in unmanned across the services. And you know, once every six months, get as many industry [members] as we can in the room and talk to them about where things are or where everything is in the acquisition process. I think it’s a great idea. So, we’re going to embrace it,” he added.

The Navy’s future unmanned systems will be enabled by a variety of technologies such as artificial intelligence, sensors, navigation tools, energy systems, and in some cases weapons.

DefenseScoop asked Moton if the upcoming event will also be open to companies that make these types of supporting technologies for robotic systems, not just platform builders.

“I think we’re planning on opening it up pretty broad, right. And again, the [NDAA] statute sort of encourages that,” he said. “We’re, I think, probably trying to keep it pretty broad for industry to participate.”


The upcoming industry days will likely be held in the Washington, D.C. area but there will be options for virtual attendance, according to Moton.

Latest Podcasts