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U.S. doubles down on extra-large drone subs to counter China

Defense chief Austin checks progress at naval facility in California

The design of Boeing's Orca is based on the Echo Voyager, another unmanned undersea vehicle by the U.S. company. (Photo courtesy of Boeing)

SAN DIEGO, U.S. -- The U.S. Navy is moving to deploy extra-large underwater drones that can potentially conduct secret offensive and intelligence-gathering activities at a lower cost than conventional submarines, contributing to deterrence against China.

U.S. Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin visited the Naval Information Warfare Center Pacific in San Diego on Wednesday. While there, he was briefed on the current status of the development of unmanned submarines and surface ships. Austin emphasized the need for "collaboration" in a "very sophisticated" field.

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