On Nov. 16, the Navy cruiser USS Chancellorsville was accidentally struck by a target drone during a training exercise off the California coast, resulting in some damage to the warship and injuries to two sailors.
In the incident’s aftermath, Navy reps tried to spin the story as a minor incident. “The ship remains capable of operations,” the official press release stressed. “However it did sustain some damage and will return to its home port of San Diego to have the damage assessed. The Navy is investigating the cause of the malfunction.”
But the official statement left out a key detail—one that could have serious ramifications for the world’s leading maritime force as it shifts to an increasingly tense Western Pacific.
The detail is that a Phalanx point-defense gun aboard Chancellorsville tried to shoot down the apparently malfunctioning BQM-74 target drone—and missed. The 270-pound drone, built by Northrop Grumman, is essentially an anti-ship cruise missile without a warhead.
If the Navy can’t shoot down a BQM-74, it could be equally likely to miss a real cruise missile with a live warhead during some future shooting war with, say, China. (end of excerpt)
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