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  (Source: Marvel Comics)
Hail Hydra!

It's big, it's fast, it's sneaky, it's deadly, and it's unmanned.  The U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency's (DARPA) proposed "Hydra" unmanned submersible (also know as an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV)).

The U.S. Navy currently deploys smaller UUVs or unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) from surface ships or submarines for a variety roles, including removing line of sight limitations, remote attacks on targets, and detailed imaging of potential targets.

But flying and diving drones are limited by their range to within a certain radius of the manned fleet.  And the drones could hypothetically attract attention back to the manned fleet, tipping the enemy off on their location.  Last, but not least, the use of larger manned ships greatly increases the cost of an operation.

The new unmanned mothership shares it name with both the monster of Greek mythology, and the Marvel Comics supervillain/terrorist organization led by the Red Skull.
[Image Source: Comics Vine/Marvel]

DARPA warns:

The rising number of ungoverned states, piracy, and proliferation of sophisticated defenses severely stretches current resources and influences U.S. military capability to conduct special operations and contingency missions.

Hydra looks to eliminate that, serving as a mini underwater carrier for both UUVs and UAVs.  Like naval submarines, it would be able to travel days on end, allowing remote operations with smaller drones in areas where there are no nearby manned vessels.  The new Hydra craft will be designed to perform missions (via its UAV payloads) in three arenas -- underwater, on the surface, and in the air.

DARPA will officially kick off the effort to build Hydra at an Aug. 5 event at Johns Hopkins University in Laurel, Mary.

The government agency is seeking private sector contract bids to first design components, build those components, integrate them into subsystems, and finally merge those subsystems into a working prototype.  Among the necessary subsystems include the ballast system, energy, communications, command and control, propulsion, a modular UAV/UUV carrier-style storage assembly to accommodate different drone payloads, and measures for long-duration submerged operations.

Hydra render
An artist's depiction of the Hydra submersible mothership. [Image Source: DARPA]

The mothership must be able to dock with returning drones to recharge/refuel them and to pool their collected data.  The craft must be able to operate independently in shallow coastal waters and harbors for extended periods, maintaining constant secure communication with distant operators.  It must be able to deploy all of its drone payloads without surfacing, and be able to maintain communication with the drones -- including aerial units -- while staying underwater.  And ideally it needs to be able to retrieve the drones for reuse.

Currently Raytheon Comp. (RTN), one of America's largest defense contractors, and AeroVironment, Inc. (AVAV), one of the largest dedicated drone makers, have developed prototypes of a "Switchblade" launching system, which deploys a UAV which takes off out of a launcher payload which floats to the surface after being deployed from a submarine.  Retrieving data (communicating with) that flier and possibly retrieving it for later reuse will be tricky to accomplish, though.

Raytheon launcher
Raytheon and Aerovironment have a drone launch system for subs. [Image Source: Raytheon]

The The U.S. Navy Research Lab has been developing a similar aerial "mothership" drone called "Tempest", which launches smaller mini-drones call "Cicadas".

Source: DARPA

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better idea:
By dgingerich on 7/24/2013 7:29:31 PM , Rating: -1
I have a better idea: make a UUV that could plant a delayed fuse or remotely triggered explosive charge on the hull underwater, or even be a full smart/sneak bomb without anything detachable. This way, they could go through an enemy fleet with multiple UUVs, plant the bombs on the targets, then attack with other assets just as the planted explosives would go off simultaneously. Huge sneak attack. They'd give away the location of the fleet, but only once the fleet is already attacking, so it wouldn't really matter at that point.

Or another tactic: have them operate from shore in swarms, follow or attach to any potential enemy ship, then if they show any hostile actions they all get sunk at once.

Then again, what enemy out there is going to attack us outright at this stage of the game? The only attacks we need to worry about are terrorist attacks. Our standing military is the best in the world. Even half of it would be enough to protect us against anyone else who might attack with overwhelming odds. Even if the entire Venezuelan, N Korean, and Iranian Navies attacked us, we'd have them sunk in a matter of minutes. (I'm not even sure if Venezuela has a Navy.) Even if their whole militaries attacked us, we'd have them wiped out in minutes. Russia would be the closest to our level of power, but they're so poor even they wouldn't stand a chance. If anyone nukes us, they know we'd come over and pound their entire country into dust in retribution and to make sure it would never happen again.

We have no enemies of note anymore. The best bet to make sure nobody would attack us in outright war is to adopt a policy that if any country nukes us, we would strip their entire country of every piece of refined metal, aluminum, copper, gold, silver, steel, even tin, in war reparations and leave them in the stone age. Nobody would mess with us then, even in a terrorist action.

RE: better idea:
By wavetrex on 7/24/13, Rating: -1
RE: better idea:
By GodMadeDirt on 7/24/2013 8:11:33 PM , Rating: 3
I admit it was quite the rant but no need to be a kunt about it yourself m8

RE: better idea:
By dgingerich on 7/25/2013 3:49:41 PM , Rating: 1
Oh? You know of another military that could challenge the US in any way?

RE: better idea:
By ShaolinSoccer on 7/25/2013 5:52:48 PM , Rating: 2
Finding ways to stop war is a much better option and not only good for our planet, but also for our species.

"There's no chance that the iPhone is going to get any significant market share. No chance." -- Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer

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