Sub-Launched "Switchblade" Drone Helps Guide U.S. Subs to Better Kills
December 26, 2011 2:48 PM
comment(s) - last by
Stealthy drone solution can detect enemy ships even in cases where sonar is limited
Modern submarine designs rely on sonar to "see" enemy vessels, but terrain features like ocean banks can obscure vision, preventing reliable hunting. These limitations are common referred to as "line of sight" (LOS) problems.
But the wonders of robotics may soon change that. Drone-maker AeroVironment has
a special maritime-ready unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV), which stealthily hovers over the sea eying enemy ships and transmitting what it sees to a lurking submarine.
An artist's rendering of the Switchblade drone in flight [Image Source: AeroVironment]
Raytheon Comp. (
) is helping to give the marine drone a leg up, by creating a launch vehicle for it. The submerged launch vehicle (SLV) will jettison from the submarine's trash shoot and quietly make its way to the surface. From there it will eject the UAV into flight.
The new drone is part of a collection of projects dubbed Submarine Over-The-Horizon Organic Capabilities (SOTHOC). In 2008 Raytheon demonstrated similar capabilities from a "over-the-side" launch by a drone-containing SLV thrown literally over the side of a surface vessel.
The SLV is a rather ingenious construct. It consists of weighted ballast, which sinks the craft for a certain amount of time, allowing the submarine to move away from the launch position. After a given amount of time, these weights are released and a float collar inflates, bringing the package to the surface. The delayed release, again, is design to obfuscate the attacker's true location.
A drogue (a parachute like construct) is deployed to steady the SLV amidst the choppy ocean, while a vane aligns it into the wind. The tube's control electronics pivot the surfaced, oriented tube at a 35 angle. The tube then fires, hurling the UAV up into the wind and off on its way.
The Raytheon SLV has a complex launch process design to obfuscate the attacker's location.
[Image Source: Raytheon]
The device will be tested during the
Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012
exercise, the latest edition of the world's largest multi-national maritime exercise, conducted biennially on even years in Hawaii. Raytheon is currently perfecting five SLVs and working with AeroVironment to tune its squadron of seven UAVs.
justification and approval
" (J&A) documents indicate that Raytheon in late 2008 conducted a successful launch from periscope depth. The next step is to conduct a launch from a deeper cruising depth.
If Raytheon and AeroVironment can pull off that technical feat in time for RIMPAC 2012, they may just revolutionize sea warfare in a small way and give the U.S. another small technological leg up on its foreign rivals like China.
In related news, similar military research and development work is being put towards
developing unmanned subs
, which in a future war fleet could complement larger human-manned subs, while reducing weight requirements and human life risks.
Aviation Week [URL shortened]
This article is over a month old, voting and posting comments is disabled
RE: But can it detect Chinese subs?
12/27/2011 2:02:43 PM
(Please correct me if I'm wrong) I don't think this is meant to search for subs, I'm pretty sure its mostly a way to give an aerial view of surface warships. I read the article and didn't see any specific mentioning of detecting submarines.
But can it detect Chinese subs?
Talking from personal experience, tracking diesel subs isn't easy. Diesel subs (some of the new models) are quieter than our nuclear subs, and our nuclear subs can go undetected almost anywhere. Going after a surface ship is a joke because they have no idea you are coming, and making it past a couple subs isn't very difficult if they don't know you are coming and you have plenty of background noise (I.E. a whole carrier fleet.) Remember, subs don't normally use active sonar, they rely on passive.
"This is from the DailyTech.com. It's a science website." -- Rush Limbaugh
DARPA Program Seeks Creation of Unmanned Ocean Vessels
February 10, 2010, 1:43 PM
Smartphone STD Scanner Dongle Can Detect HIV in Just 15 Minutes
February 26, 2015, 11:04 AM
Bill Gates Plugs GMOs to Reduce Starvation in Africa
February 24, 2015, 10:12 PM
Cool Nature Video: Crazy Coconut Octopus Braves Dry Land to Capture Crab
February 24, 2015, 4:18 PM
MIT Creates Injectable Self-Healing Nanoparticle Hydrogel for Cancer Treatment
February 23, 2015, 9:37 AM
Amp EVs' Workhorse and HorseFly Duo Challenge Amazon to Delivery Drone Duel
February 20, 2015, 3:56 AM
DARPA Awards Boeing Contract to Test Jet Based Satellite Launches
February 19, 2015, 11:30 AM
Most Popular Articles
Modern Glass (Windows 7 Aero Glass + Modern UI) Style is Coming to Windows 10
February 19, 2015, 1:05 PM
Amid Tight Race w/ Evernote, Microsoft's OneNote Goes (Even More) Free, Adds Fresh Features
February 23, 2015, 11:15 AM
Quick Note: Microsoft Gives Dropbox Users Extra 100 GB of Free OneDrive Storage
February 20, 2015, 9:48 AM
EDITORIAL: Board Wants to Anoint America World Police w/ Global Warrant Power
February 20, 2015, 9:10 AM
NVIDIA Bows to Outraged Overclockers, Will Restore Feature in Upcoming Driver
February 23, 2015, 12:30 PM
Latest Blog Posts
Sceptre Airs 27", 120 Hz. 1080p Monitor/HDTV w/ 5 ms Response Time for $220
Dec 3, 2014, 10:32 PM
Costco Gives Employees Thanksgiving Off; Wal-Mart Leads "Black Thursday" Charge
Oct 29, 2014, 9:57 PM
"Bear Selfies" Fad Could Turn Deadly, Warn Nevada Wildlife Officials
Oct 28, 2014, 12:00 PM
The Surface Mini That Was Never Released Gets "Hands On" Treatment
Sep 26, 2014, 8:22 AM
ISIS Imposes Ban on Teaching Evolution in Iraq
Sep 17, 2014, 5:22 PM
More Blog Posts
Copyright 2015 DailyTech LLC. -
Terms, Conditions & Privacy Information