The Navy Wants Sub-Hunting Underwater Drones to Deter China

·1 min read

Key point: Robot subs could be sent to seek and destroy other subs. The advantage is that they are cheaper to make and can supplement the existing, manned Navy.

Should an enemy submarine surface well beyond undersea or surface drone detection range and send intelligence to attack platforms - US Navy platforms could be vulnerable in some instances. Fortified by targeting data from well beyond the horizon, enemy subs, planes and ships might, in this case, be well-positioned for a coordinated strike.

However, should an interwoven web of Navy surveillance assets track and share vital information, coordinated surface, air and undersea drones could sustain an unprecedented advantage -- and a new attack synergy could actually begin to transform maritime warfare. Enemy mines, surface ships, small boats and submarines might be detected more quickly, but, perhaps of greater importance, cross-domain drone connectivity would completely change the sensor-to-shooter kill chain. With this in mind, Navy weapons developers have put this initiative on the fast track, with the hope of rapidly networking its fleet of surface, air and undersea drones.

Submarine hunting with Textron’s Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs) is already breaking through to a new level of detection and attack technology, laying a foundation of progress from which to build toward a new horizon of the desired interconnected maritime drone combat. This new level of multi-domain drone networking was described at the Navy League’s Sea Air Space Symposium by Capt. Pete Small, Program Manager for Unmanned Systems. Small said this is now being advanced through a collaborative effort between Naval Sea Systems Command and Naval Air Systems Command.

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