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.


 
 

 
Air Force photograph by SSgt. Joe W. McFadden

Polish, U.S. forces improve interoperability at Lask AB

Four F-16 Fighting Falcons, two F-22 Raptors and a C-130 Hercules arrived at Lask Air Base Aug. 31. The airmen and aircraft are in Poland for separate flying training events with allies to demonstrate the countries’ share...
 
 
Air Force photograph by Ron Bradshaw

First operational F-35As arrive at Hill AFB

The Air Force ushered in a new era of combat air power Sept. 2 as Hill Air Force Base, Utah, received the service’s first two operational F-35As. Hill’s active duty 388th Fighter Wing and Reserve 419th Fighter Wing ...
 
 
Navy photograph

Air-to-air missile reaches production milestone

Featuring a “lock on after launch” capability and other advances, the joint Navy and Air Force air-intercept missile (AIM)-9X Sidewinder Block II reached the full rate production milestone Aug. 17. Sean Stackley, As...
 

 

Navy Lt. j.g. John Salguero of Palmdale, serves with the Navy Reserve

Navy photograph by PO2 Jamie Hawkins Lt. j.g. John Salguero, a 1981 Palmdale High School graduate and Palmdale, Calif., native, is a Navy Reservist serving with Naval Mobile Construction Battalion Eighteen, Detachment 2118 in Bremerton, Wash., in the U.S. Navy, which protects and defends America on the world’s oceans. The Navy Reserve is celebrating its...
 
 

MQ-1s test deployment capability in Latvia

Two MQ-1 Predator remotely piloted aircraft and approximately 70 airmen deployed to Lielvarde Air Base, Latvia, to test the unit’s ability to forward deploy, and to conduct air operations while assuring NATO allies of our commitment to regional security and stability. Airmen and aircraft from the 147th Reconnaissance Wing of the Texas Air National Guard...
 
 
Courtesy photograph

F-22 inaugural deployment to Europe

Courtesy photograph A pair of F-22 Raptors fly near the coastline of Panama City Beach, Fla. Four F-22 Raptors, one C-17 Globemaster III, and approximately 60 airmen arrived at Spangdahlem Air Base, Germany, to train with allie...
 




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=""> <s> <strike> <strong>