CARTAGENA, Colombia - If Darth Vader drove a boat, it might look like this. The Stiletto is a new experimental high-speed boat being tested by the United States military's Office of Force Transformation.
The Stiletto's experimental M-shaped hull is designed for maximum speed even in shallow waters. It can sit in water three feet deep and cruise at 50 miles an hour.
"It's the funkiest looking, fastest thing on the water," said Stiletto vessel master Isaiah Smith.
ABC News was given exclusive access to the Stiletto while it was being tested off the waters of Cartagena, Colombia -- a hotbed of cocaine trafficking.
The U.S. military doesn't normally go to a foreign country to test its experimental military hardware, but officials decided to bring the Stiletto to Colombia to see if it is the boat that will finally enable the Coast Guard to interdict drug smugglers.
In an exercise organized by the U.S. military and Colombian Navy, Colombian sailors pretended to be drug smugglers, using small high-powered boats called "Go Fasts" that typically outrace the Navy or Coast Guard.
The Stiletto is the new exception. In less than a minute, it can launch a 33-foot Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat, or zodiac, with a fully armed U.S. Coast Guard boarding party. No other military craft can launch a boat as fast.
"Our ability to arrive on scene, to get to the target, is so much faster here versus the normal ship," said a U.S. Coast Guard officer, who asked to remain nameless. "Before we could never catch up to a 'Go Fast' once it was spotted."
With coast guard teams using the Stiletto, smugglers seem not to stand a chance. In this test, they were able to outrun the smugglers, cutting off their route even before the drug-smuggling stand-ins had time to throw any of the drugs overboard.
"These guys will typically throw their cell phones and contrabands into the water," said a Navy member. "The sooner we can get to them, the better for us. We can recover the evidence and use it in the trial."
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