These drones have very interesting possibilities for naval warfare.
They could be very stealthy!
signature could be "undetectable" (no metal)
Their heat signature could be "undetectable" (no engine)
Their acoustic signature could be "undetectable" (no engine
They are very small and could be painted to be hard to see.
They can carry a range of detection devices to be used as "picket duty" remote
sensors, or uniquely as sensors that could move towards an enemy location, especially one where capture of any manned vessels must be avoided (Spratley Islands, etc.). Notice the many sensors in the illustration that could be used to locate Chinese submarines in the South China
Sea for example.
They can carry a payload of 250 pounds (guest payload shown in the illustration).
They are unmanned, so do not risk the life or capture of a Sailor, SEAL, or Marine
Their "cover story" for the public could be simply "oceanographic or weather
research" device to track wind
, and currents.
And, in the days of competition for budget funding
for the military services and competition for the best possible recruits, having some "high tech" drones makes a good recruiting tool for the Navy
and is keeps the Navy's public image as "with the times" or even "leading edge." This can have great value to the higher ups (top brass).
And they could possibly assist in bathymetric sounding research
to create more accurate charts
In sum, pretty frickin cool as a future naval weapon (hence the DARPA connection).