By Debbie Gregory.

There may be a big game changer in naval warfare because of two patents that were recently awarded to a retired Marine Corps four-star.

John Allen and SparkCognition CEO Amir Husain have been granted a patent for a seagoing mothership for quadcopters designed to fake out enemy fighter pilots, and another patent for a drone boat equipped to spot and shoot down enemy aircraft.

The patent for the drone boat reads: “A plurality of submersible vessels can cooperatively engage threats.”  “For example, the plurality of submersible vessels can coordinate with each other to observe, confirm, track, and engage threats by efficiently allocating resources, such as ordnance, among themselves. As one example, the plurality of submersible vessels can create a ‘dome’ of protection around assets, such as naval vessels or civilian vessels.”

For the most part, the U.S. military has been more willing to employ autonomous weapons in the maritime environment, where they’re less likely to cause unintended civilian casualties than on land.

“The design of the system certainly makes it capable” of firing autonomously, Husain said. “But the way in which a proposed system such as this is operationalized in the battlefield depends on many factors, and ultimately, international law and the policies of the United States Government as manifested in the oversight of the DoD and decision-making of the relevant commanders.”

“We see autonomous systems as platforms that can potentially deliver smaller kinetic effects with far greater precision, thus reducing the unintended damage. Autonomous systems should present a superior and more humane option than pulling the lanyard on a loaded artillery piece,”  said Husain.

In 2016, the first crewless warship, the Sea Hunter, launched as part of the DARPA Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program. Christened in Portland, Oregon, the vessel continues the line of experimental “Sea” ships, including the Sea Shadow, Sea Fighter, and Sea Slice.The Sea Hunter is classified as a Class III USV and designated the Medium Displacement Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MDUSV).

Following his 37-year military career,  Allen was appointed by former President Barack Obama as Special Presidential Envoy for the Global Coalition to Counter ISIL, where he led the complex assignment of building, from conception, a robust international coalition that would undertake a wide range of political, diplomatic, military, economic, and other efforts to degrade and ultimately defeat ISIL.