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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.

Hydraw
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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Welcome to WAR GAMES
By seraphim1982 on 7/25/2013 11:35:06 AM , Rating: 2
Beginning to move to entirely unmanned vehicles, it more cost effective, so in the long run it'll be cheaper. Although, I don't see this as an effective form of defensive as possibly an EMP or nuke could disable a lot of these drones. Most countries that have drone tech, will probably have nuke tech. IMO, a more practical use is invading / covert attacks. Since they are cheap, mass producable, and disposable (unlike people), especially if you take military perspective where people #'s matter and China has more. In this case, a UAV / UAA carrier would make a lot of sense, like a protoss carrier from starcraft.

If Iranians (who probably aren't as technologically as advanced as the US) can hack and bring down a drone I wonder what China could do.




RE: Welcome to WAR GAMES
By ShaolinSoccer on 7/25/2013 5:43:36 PM , Rating: 2
It's too bad that we don't live on a planet where our governments spend more money trying to figure out how to not go to war than on building more ways of killing each other. But that won't be as profitable, will it?


RE: Welcome to WAR GAMES
By kyleb2112 on 7/27/2013 6:46:11 AM , Rating: 2
Appeasement kills a lot more people in the long run.


RE: Welcome to WAR GAMES
By talonvor on 7/30/2013 1:10:09 AM , Rating: 2
Can you imagine where we would be if we had spent $500 billion a year on space/science/technology research for the last 15 years instead of on military spending?


RE: Welcome to WAR GAMES
By tamalero on 7/27/2013 1:18:26 PM , Rating: 2
hacking will reach a new time high thanks to these drones.. it would be easier to hack the drones than actually make a full scale assault between drone armies.


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