Navy builds new huge undersea attack drones

Illustration of the Boeing Echo Voyager (Boeing)

The Navy has a number of new steps in the development of several large underwater drones designed to control the behavior of undersea exploration, part combat of important data with a submarine “motherships,” search and destroy mines and – in some cases – attacks on enemy surface and submarine vessels

The two new submarine drones, to be configured with advanced sensors and weapons, the Orca Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (XLUUV) and the Large Diameter Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (LDUUV).

“This will contribute to the consolidation of the Navy’s vision to bring UUVs (Unmanned underwater vehicles) and USVs (Unmanned Surface Vessels) of the fleet, and to integrate them with surface ships and submarines,” Capt. Pete Small, Program Manager for the Unmanned Systems, recently said at the Surface Navy Association.


The construction strategy, according to the developers, is to engineer a new “to expand,” multi-mission drone is able to quickly integrate in new technology and cargo as they arise. This technical platform would in important cases, removing the need for the Navy to build new submarine drones in the future. The concept, when it comes to the application, may apply to newer, improved sonar, networks, and new weapon and countermine technologies.

The Orca XLUUV, Small said, has completed critical design reviews and moved to “fabrication.”

“The Orca XLUUV is a multi-phased, accelerated acquisition program contains a full and open competition for the industry to design, build, test and delivery of systems to the Fleet,” Alan Baribeau, spokesman for the Naval Sea Systems Command, told the Warrior.


On Feb. 13, Boeing was recently awarded a $43 million deal to build four orcas. Boeing XLUUV Orca is based on the Echo Voyager and Echo Ranger underwater drones. The Echo Ranger is an 84-foot long, 50-ton massive underwater drone can reach depths of 11,000 feet, and beat with a range of up to 6,500 nautical miles, according to Boeing data. The drone has obstacle avoidance, capacity of up to 34-feet, autonomous buoyancy and Synthetic Aperture Sonar, Boeing data states.

Meanwhile, the Navy is now prototyping the LDUUV. “Next year, we will deliver a prototype (LDUUV) for integration with submarines,” said Small. The production of the LDUUV is currently scheduled for 2020 and 2021.

The LDUUV mission, according to 2015, an essay of the “International Journal of Advanced Research in Artificial Intelligence,” is to “carry out missions longer than 70 days in the open ocean and the coastal seas, fully autonomous, long-endurance, land-launched with advanced sensing for littoral environments,” a document entitled, “Military Robotics: Latest Trends and Spatial Pak Solutions” from the National Academy of Sciences. (Peter Simon Sapaty)


Boeing XLUUV the long endurance is in accordance with what the essay states for the LDUUV. A Boeing data sheet on the Echo Ranger, says “the car’s advanced autonomy work for months at a time without physical human contact, and in polluted waters.”

The National Academy of Sciences’ essay, among other things, points to the merits of the “long endurance” and “autonomy” in connection with the LDUUV and XLUUV. If an unmanned platform, it is, of course, of course, that brings more on mission on the basis of the non-transportation of people and the need to return after a fixed period of time. In addition, a larger form-factor will likely increase the technical capacity of propulsion, enabling longer missions, and the dwell time at the station.

Strategies, missions and applications of the new drones continue to develop, but there is broad consensus across the service that this new undersea craft is expected to greatly inform tactics, techniques and procedures for underwater attack.


First applications are land-launched drones as an important step in the direction of move in the direction of submarine launches, Small said. The service works on both launched and recovered drones; both possibilities as an important priority of the link with under water or on the surface “motherships” to coordinate, command and control, and receiving of information and, in some cases, direct mission activity for the drones. The Navy plan is to one day soon forward-mounted submarine drones to fire weapons.

Autonomous or self-navigating submarine drones can also extend and improve mission capabilities. The concept fits in with the Navy, now under the development of Unmanned Maritime Autonomy Architecture (ama) program, which is currently engineering and testing “different layers of autonomy,” says Klein.

“In a more mature state we are going to use more autonomy. We are still in the development of the interface documents,” said Small.


Autonomy can enable the mission to reach that were previously not possible, such as a larger range submarine attack, and surveillance. A forward-mounted submarine drone can, of course, much higher threat areas filled with mines, submarines or other threats in both deep water and coastal areas. Being unmanned, they can also help you to submarines to hitting underwater, surface or land targets with a larger stand-off distance and a better match. At the time, submarine drones, mainly the collection of data, and then return to a host ship for the downloading of data. The service is now working to develop and refine a handful of new ways to communicate underwater in real-time, in some cases, using a video-guided autonomous underwater attack drones. Advanced autonomy and command and control can enable more seamless, real-time connection between UUVs and motherships. DARPA and BAE Systems are now developing an underwater “GPS”-like connection.

— (For Warrior Maven’s Story on DARPA submarine GPS-like tech , Click Here)

“Developers have built highly autonomous systems that can navigate, maneuver, and perform surprisingly complex tasks. Operation above or in the vicinity of the surface simplifies the power and control, but compromises stealth,” the National Academy of Sciences, a essay states.

More Weapons and Technology – WARRIOR MAVEN (CLICK HERE)

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