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U.S. Navy ships face the growing threat of small boat swarms used by terrorists, pirates or enemy countries. New testing has shown off a possible counter that looks strangely similar except for the lack of human sailors — small robot boats armed with missiles.

The Navy launched six missiles from an unmanned surface boat — called the unmanned surface vessel precision engagement module (USV PEM) — during testing on Oct. 24. The 36-foot robot boat carries both missiles and a .50 caliber machine gun that can take on small boats that may threaten larger Navy warships.

“Technology demonstrated in this project can provide a capability to combat terrorists who use small low-cost vehicles as weapons platforms,” said Mark Moses, assistant program manager for NAVSEA Naval Special Warfare.

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