The underwater environment poses physical challenges which limit the ability of drones to monitor ballistic missile submarines.
It has been claimed that drones, such as autonomous unmanned aerial vehicles and autonomous underwater vehicles, will be able to search the oceans for nuclear-powered submarines carrying nuclear-tipped weapons (SSBNs). Deployed in large numbers, it is posited that these drones would make the continuous at-sea deterrent obsolete. Jonathan Gates argues that few of the sensors carried by these drones would be able to detect a deeply submerged submarine, even if it were large.
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