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Revolutionizing Naval Warfare with Submarine-Launched UUVs

Revolutionizing Naval Warfare with Submarine-Launched UUVs

UUV Warfare

The US Navy is making strides in its efforts to launch and recover medium-sized unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) from submarines under a project managed by the Program Executive Office Unmanned and Small Combatants. Teaming up with industry leaders like Leidos and L3Harris Technologies, a demo vehicle has been developed to accelerate the platform’s progress. The Navy’s goal is to deploy torpedo tube-launched and retrieved UUVs within the next year, eventually enabling every submarine in the fleet to serve as a drone mothership. The inclusion of these UUVs will offer substantial benefits to the US Navy, such as enhanced surveillance capabilities, mine countermeasure operations, and extending the range of underwater missions with minimal risk to both the crew and vessel. Steady advances and investments in UUV technology are predicted to play a crucial role in transforming naval warfare’s future, improving the overall effectiveness and efficiency of the submarine fleet.

Preliminary Testing and Yellow Moray Operation

Initial testing has begun, with Submarine Force Atlantic conducting an operation called Yellow Moray using a Remus UUV designed by defense manufacturer HII. The Yellow Moray operation seeks to assess the effectiveness and capabilities of the Remus UUV in various underwater missions, such as reconnaissance, mine countermeasures, and surveillance. The successful completion of these tests could potentially revolutionize naval forces’ performance of underwater tasks, enhancing both safety and efficiency in future operations.

Rat Trap Exercise and Submarine Force Pacific

Submarine Force Pacific successfully launched and retrieved an L3Harris-produced UUV from a torpedo tube in a similar Rat Trap exercise. The successful launch and retrieval of the L3Harris-produced UUV demonstrate significant progress in integrating underwater unmanned vehicles with existing submarine technology. This progress is vital in improving the capabilities and stealth of submarines, thereby reinforcing maritime defense systems.

Initial Capability Introduction and Development Strategy

The plan is to introduce an initial capability in 2024, in conjunction with the official medium UUV development and procurement process. This synchronized approach will ensure that the latest innovations in underwater technology are efficiently incorporated into the overall development strategy. Additionally, it will enable researchers and manufacturers to better collaborate and address potential challenges that may arise during production and implementation phases.

Rear Adm. Rob Gaucher’s Optimism

Despite initial challenges, Rear Adm. Rob Gaucher remains hopeful that the fleet will soon adopt unmanned capacity and highlights existing contributions to real operations and global drills. He focuses on the rapidly advancing technological innovations, which are expected to contribute significantly to unmanned systems’ integration within the fleet. Furthermore, Adm. Gaucher believes that ongoing collaboration and extensive research efforts are paving the way for a seamless transition, positioning the fleet at the forefront of innovation and effectiveness in worldwide defense operations.

Global UUV Exercises

US UUVs have participated in exercises in Europe, the Middle East, and the Pacific, focusing on tasks like mine countermeasures, seabed assessments, and harbor protection. In addition to these crucial tasks, the UUVs have also been employed for intelligence gathering, surveillance, and underwater maintenance operations. Their deployment in various regions demonstrates their growing versatility and importance in safeguarding maritime interests globally.

FAQ

What is the US Navy’s goal for medium-sized UUVs?

The US Navy aims to deploy torpedo tube-launched and retrieved medium-sized UUVs within the next year. Ultimately, the goal is for every submarine in the fleet to serve as a drone mothership, enhancing surveillance capabilities, mine countermeasure operations, and extending the range of underwater missions with minimal risk to both the crew and vessel.

What is the Yellow Moray operation?

The Yellow Moray operation is conducted by Submarine Force Atlantic to assess the effectiveness and capabilities of the Remus UUV designed by defense manufacturer HII. Missions being tested include reconnaissance, mine countermeasures, and surveillance.

What was achieved in the Rat Trap exercise?

In the Rat Trap exercise, Submarine Force Pacific successfully launched and retrieved an L3Harris-produced UUV from a torpedo tube. This demonstrates significant progress in integrating underwater unmanned vehicles with existing submarine technology, which is crucial for improving capabilities and stealth of submarines and reinforcing maritime defense systems.

When is the initial capability introduction planned for?

The plan is to introduce an initial capability in 2024, in conjunction with the official medium UUV development and procurement process.

What is Rear Adm. Rob Gaucher’s outlook on fleet adoption of unmanned capacity?

Rear Adm. Rob Gaucher remains optimistic about the fleet adopting unmanned capacity soon. He focuses on rapidly advancing technological innovations, ongoing collaboration, and extensive research efforts which are expected to contribute significantly to the integration of unmanned systems within the fleet and position it at the forefront of innovation and effectiveness in worldwide defense operations.

Where have US UUVs been deployed for exercises?

US UUVs have participated in exercises in Europe, the Middle East, and the Pacific, focusing on tasks like mine countermeasures, seabed assessments, and harbor protection. They have also been employed for intelligence gathering, surveillance, and underwater maintenance operations, demonstrating their growing versatility and importance in safeguarding maritime interests globally.

First Reported on: defensenews.com
Featured Image Credit: Photo by Darren Halstead; Unsplash; Thank you!

Johannah Lopez

Johannah Lopez is a versatile professional who seamlessly navigates two worlds. By day, she excels as a SaaS freelance writer, crafting informative and persuasive content for tech companies. By night, she showcases her vibrant personality and customer service skills as a part-time bartender. Johannah's ability to blend her writing expertise with her social finesse makes her a well-rounded and engaging storyteller in any setting.
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