Thursday, October 8, 2009

Unmanned undersea military vessels (UUVs)

StrategyPage writes: Israel is using a locally made USV (unmanned surface vessel), the Protector, to patrol the Gaza coast, and the waters around the Lebanese border. [...] The Protector USV is basically a four ton, 30 foot long (9 meter) speedboat (up to 72 kilometers an hour) equipped with radar, GPS and vidcams, and armed with a remote control 12.7mm machine-gun (using night vision and a laser rangefinder) There is also a public address system, to give orders to boats that should not be there.

While unmanned surface vessels make a lot of sense — with Earth's surface 70% ocean, there is a lot of surface area available — one wonders about unmanned submarines. Subs are already going low-tech with the advent of personal subs and cocaine subs. It is not a leap to imagine completely unmanned submersibles, or UUVs, as the US Navy calls them.

Given the stealth capabilities of a UUV, it is surprising that UUV development has not been given a high priority at the DoD (as far as I can tell). The US Navy forecasts use of UUVs initially in mine clearing operations, a capability that is very relevant today in the Strait of Hormuz.

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