Defense

April 16, 2012

Unmanned vessel could soon be working for U.S. Navy

by Alan Sayre
Associated Press

Technology that sent unmanned aircraft over Iraq and Afghanistan soon could be steering unstaffed naval boats for such dangerous tasks as minesweeping, submarine detection, intelligence gathering and approaching hostile vessels.

Defense contractor Textron Inc. demonstrated what it calls its Common Unmanned Surface Vessel technology Thursday at its Textron Marine & Land Systems shipyard in New Orleans.

“The unmanned vessels will keep the dull, dirty and dangerous jobs away from our personnel,” said Ryan Hazlett, director of the advanced systems group of AAI, another Textron subsidiary.

The boat – painted in Navy gray and with a striking resemblance to a PT boat – is 39 feet long and can reach a top speed of 28 knots. Using a modified version of the unmanned Shadow surveillance aircraft technology that logged 700,000 hours of duty in the Middle East, the boat can be controlled remotely from 10 to 12 miles away from a command station on land, at sea or in the air, Hazlett said.

Farther out, it can be switched to a satellite control system, which Textron said could expand its range to 1,200 miles (1,930 kilometers). The boat could be launched from virtually any large Navy vessel.

It’s not the first unmanned boat. But Hazlett said others generally have been boats simply refitted with remote control equipment. The CUSV was designed from the first step not to have a crew.

“It uses space without having to worry about the things that are required for a manned vessel,” he said.

Using diesel fuel, the boat could operate for up to 72 hours without refueling, depending upon its traveling speed and the weight of equipment being carried, said Stanley DeGeus, senior business development director for AAI’s advanced systems. The fuel supply could be extended for up to a week on slow-moving reconnaissance missions, he said.

Accompanied by another small vessel with its control equipment, the boat was shown off to the public with a sweep up and down Bayou Sauvage at full speed. DeGues said the boat could be operated in as little as 5 feet of water because of its shallow draft.

The CUSV would be hard to sink by accident.

Hazlett said that if the boat overturns, it shuts down its engines, rights itself, restarts the engines and resumes the mission. DeGeus said that should the boat lose contact with its command, it’s programmed simply to return to its launching point or another pre-determined location.

Additional technology under development would allow the CUSV to “detect a sailboat with a family on it” and pass safely – without controller intervention, DeGeus said.

The boat had its initial sea trials in 2009 and passed a recent U.S. Navy exercise drill off the coast of Virginia when it approached a potential “enemy vessel” that was near a restricted area and warned it off with an acoustic system featuring DeGues’ voice. This summer, it will travel to Camp Pendleton in San Diego to test its mine detection and sweeping capabilities, DeGeus said.

Textron has produced two CUSV prototypes. DeGues said commercial production could begin within nine to 12 months after the company receives a contract. Hazlett wouldn’t reveal how much development cost, but said it has all been funded by Textron. He also wouldn’t speculate on the eventual cost of each vessel, saying that would depend upon equipment ordered by a customer and the number of boats built. Textron is pursuing contracts to supply the U.S. Navy, as well as foreign navies.

If the company gets contracts for the CUSV, construction will take place in New Orleans.

 




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

Headlines September 2, 2014

News: Debris yields clues that pilot never ejected - When investigators were finally able to safely enter the crash site of an F-15C “Eagle” fighter jet on the afternoon of Aug. 27, they made a grim discovery that concluded more than 30 hours of searching – the pilot never managed to eject from the aircraft.  ...
 
 

News Briefs September 2, 2014

Pentagon: Iraq operations cost $560 million so far U.S. military operations in Iraq, including airstrikes and surveillance flights, have cost about $560 million since mid-June, the Pentagon said Aug. 29. Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, said the average daily cost has been $7.5 million. He said it began at a much lower...
 
 

Unmanned aircraft partnership reaches major milestone

A team of research students and staff from Warsaw University of Technology have successfully demonstrated the first phase of flight test and integration of unmanned aircraft platforms with an autonomous mission control system. The demonstration marks a significant milestone in a partnership between the university and Lockheed Martin that began earlier this year. This is...
 

 

Raytheon delivers first Block 2 Rolling Airframe Missiles to US Navy

Raytheon delivered the first Block 2 variant of its Rolling Airframe Missile system to the U.S. Navy as part of the company’s 2012 Low Rate Initial Production contract. RAM Block 2 is a significant performance upgrade featuring enhanced kinematics, an evolved radio frequency receiver, and an improved control system. “As today’s threats continue to evolve,...
 
 
Courtesy photograph

Two Vietnam War Soldiers, one from Civil War to receive Medal of Honor

U.S. Army graphic Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. Adkins and former Spc. 4 Donald P. Sloat will receive the Medal of Honor for actions in Vietnam. The White House announced Aug. 26 that Retired Command Sgt. Maj. Bennie G. A...
 
 

Sparks fly as NASA pushes limits of 3-D printing technology

NASA has successfully tested the most complex rocket engine parts ever designed by the agency and printed with additive manufacturing, or 3-D printing, on a test stand at NASA’s Marshall Space Flight Center in Huntsville, Ala. NASA engineers pushed the limits of technology by designing a rocket engine injector – a highly complex part that...
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>