By Kris Osborn
Groups of underwater drones will soon simultaneously use sonar and different sensors to identify and destroy enemy submarines and surface ships, search for mines, collect oceanographic data and conduct reconnaissance missions – all while a single human performs command and control functions aboard a Navy ship or submarine, senior service officials explained.
Perhaps several submarine-launched underwater robots or Large Displacement Unmanned Undersea Vehicles could identify a threatening enemy submarine or surface vessel at distances far beyond the normal detection range.
Groups of integrated drones would then instantly relay pertinent data to underwater or ship-board computing systems and sensors. As a result, humans in a command and control function to access relevant information faster and more efficiently, providing commanders with a larger window with which to make critical decisions, Rear Adm. Robert Girrier, Director, Unmanned Warfare Systems, told Scout Warrior in an interview.
Using satellite integrated telemetry, some underwater drones can transmit information back to boats in near real time; this provides a substantial tactical advantage because smaller drones are less detectable to enemy sonar and therefore able to access areas that are more difficult for larger submarines to penetrate. Such a technology allows for closer-in reconnaissance missions when it comes to operating in enemy territory, close to the shoreline, or overcoming the anti-access/area-denial challenges posed by potential adversaries.
Correspondingly, a group of ship-launched aerial platforms such as Puma unmanned systems accompanied by swarms of mini-drones are might be able to beam back real-time video feeds of threats beyond-the-horizon, finding and possibly attacking otherwise out-of-range enemy targets such as fast-approaching small boats, ships or incoming anti-ship cruise missiles. Read more
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