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[*] posted on 12-1-2018 at 06:21 PM


Textron, U.S. Navy are loading guns and missiles on their unmanned mine hunting boat

By: David B. Larter   7 hours ago


A common unmanned surface vehicle patrols for intruders during Trident Warrior 2011. (Photo by MCSN Scott Youngblood)

ARLINGTON, Va. – Textron is planning to load up on guns and missiles for its Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle, or CUSV.

The 39-foot CUSV, which is developed to perform mine sweeping and countermeasures for the mine warfare package on the littoral combat ship, is getting ready to be developed further with new lethal and non-lethal payloads, which could be anything from a missile to a remotely operated gun system, such as the FN Herstal’s “Sea deFNder.”

Textron has signed a cooperative research and development agreement (CRADA) with the Surface Warfare Development Center in Dahlgren, Virginia, to pursue the project.

“We’ve been starting to work on ’Well, what else can you use this system for?’ ” said Wayne Prender, Textron’s senior vice president of control and surface systems. “It clearly has more capability, we designed it with flexible, common systems in place. And that’s where we’ll begin exploring with the U.S. Navy through this CRADA that we’ve signed.”

The agreement was first reported by USNI News.

The CUSV is designed to launch from the littoral combat ship and operate within line-of-sight, though Textron says it can operate over the horizon as well with satellite communications links.

The idea of putting a gun or a missile on an unmanned vehicle like a CUSV is appealing – the Israelis use a similar system for port security – but it presents an array of engineering challenges, said Bryan Clark, a retired submariner and analyst with Center for Strategic and International Studies.

The problem with remotely operated machine guns on a boat about the same size as a standard rigid-hulled inflatable boat is stability, he said. The operator will be using a camera to target the gun remotely, which will have a limited rage of view, plus the boat will be unstable in choppy waters, which means it won’t be very accurate.

“It’s pretty scary, seeing a boat driving around with a big machine gun on it, but its not a great latch-up,” Clark said. “It’s more of a deterrent than a capability that would be effective.”

Adding a missile, such as Raytheon’s AGM-176 Griffin or the Hellfire, might be a better bet if it has an infrared sensor or was GPS guided, Clark continued, but even then if the missile comes out at a strange angle because of choppy swells, it might not be so easy.
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[*] posted on 15-1-2018 at 02:43 PM


In a whole different league of Unmanned Surface Vessel..................

This Unmanned Rolls Royce Ship Concept Could Launch Drone Choppers


As the Navy strives toward its goal of a 355-ship fleet, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson has said unmanned systems may be a key to that growth. (Rolls Royce photo)

Military.com 12 Jan 2018 By Hope Hodge Seck

As the Navy strives toward its goal of a 355-ship fleet, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson has said unmanned systems may be a key to that growth.

For the service's consideration: a fully unmanned ship concept by Rolls-Royce that can spend 100 days at sea without a port visit, and launch and recover unmanned helicopters from a small rear deck.

Last September, Rolls-Royce rolled out the plan for a 60-meter unmanned naval vessel, shown in concept art sporting a sleek stripe and surrounded by quadcopters.

At the Surface Navy Association's annual symposium near Washington, D.C., this week, the company displayed concept art for a variant designed like a Navy ship, with Northrop Grumman MQ-8 Fire Scout unmanned helicopters on its helo deck.

While the Navy is pursuing unmanned surface vessels, such as Textron's Common Unmanned Surface Vehicle, for missions including harbor security and minesweeping, the size of the Rolls-Royce unmanned concept puts it in a separate category.

"I think when you're getting that big, it's a ship," said Davis Sanford, naval campaigns lead for Rolls-Royce.

In addition to providing a launching platform for the Fire Scout, the as-yet unnamed unmanned ship could be used for asymmetric warfare, mine countermeasures, or gear transport, Sanford told Military.com.

It uses electric drive, with four megawatts of power, equipped with generators and solar panels as a backup power source. Sanford said it could operate fully autonomously for 100 days at sea.

The existence of a fully unmanned ship concept raises questions about whether unmanned platforms could actually count toward the Navy's planned 355-ship tally.

Navy leaders have expressed avid interest in unmanned technology, but remain vague about how unmanned systems would be incorporated into the fleet on a broad scale.

"There is no question that unmanned systems must also be an integral part of the future fleet," a May 2017 document outlining Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson's vision for the future fleet states.

"The advantages such systems offer are even greater when they incorporate autonomy and machine learning," it continues. "And these platforms must be affordable enough to buy them in large numbers, and networked in order to expand our presence in key areas."

On Thursday, the Navy's new head of acquisition, James "Hondo" Geurts, said the answer is still not clear.

"I don't have the details of what's in the count or not," Geurts told reporters. "What I would say with unmanned systems is, I think it has huge potential for the Navy whether that's in the air, on the surface or under. How we talk about that in ship count, I'm not quite sure … I think unmanned systems have the potential to rapidly increase capability we have on both our current capacity of ships, and as we go to 355 ships."

The Rolls-Royce concept might be ready for acquisition by 2025 or 2030, Sanford said. The world will have to evolve rapidly before then; currently, there are no international regulations governing the operation of unmanned ships, which means they cannot enter international waters.

There are other considerations: Sanford said the company is still determining how to make the unmanned ship tamper-proof, to prevent people coming aboard and attempting to control or tamper with the ship.

But the military has already expressed interest in acquiring such technology, whether or not the Navy plans to use it to increase the fleet size.

In September 2017, the Defense Department's Strategic Capabilities Office released a draft solicitation for a program called Overlord: an unmanned surface vehicle that can operate for 90 days at a time, covering at least 4,500 nautical miles at 19 knots or higher.

"That's kind of the smaller side of where we are and where we're hoping to go with our design, our concept, and our technology," Sanford said.

-- Hope Hodge Seck can be reached at hope.seck@military.com. Follow her on Twitter at @HopeSeck.
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[*] posted on 16-1-2018 at 10:10 PM


SNA 2018: MARTAC Showcasing MANTAS T12 USV in ISR Configuration

Posted On Monday, 15 January 2018 19:34

At the Surface Navy Association's (SNA) 2018 National Symposium held last week near Washington DC, Maritime Tactical Systems (MARTAC) was showcasing for the first time its news MANTAS T12 unmanned surface vehicle. MANTAS is a range of unmanned surface vehicules (USV) scalable from 2.5' to 50' in length capable of extremely high speeds and long endurance missions.


MANTAS T12 in ISR configuration on FLIR stand at SNA 2018

According to MARTAC, the entire MANTAS system is designed to reduce manpower, to be an affordable, small footprint, easy to set-up, launch and recover solution that is adaptable to a wide variety of end user missions and host platforms. With the MANTAS system, multiple USVs can be deployed in the water quickly.

Mantas operates on a dedicated, private stand-alone 4GLTE meshed communications network, and mutiple vessels can be operated autonomously, semi-autonomously, or in full control modes from a single mobile command center resident on a laptop, tablet or even on a smartphone.

VIDEO: https://youtu.be/xj7jaoSsAW4?t=30
Our video coverage of the MANTAS T12 at SNA 2018

On display for the first time was the MANTAS T12, one of the larger size available in MARTAC's range of USVs. It has a length of 144 inches, a width of 48 inches. The MANTAS T12 showcased on the FLIR stand at SNA 2018 was representative of an ISR (information, surveillance, reconnaissance) configuration: It was fitted with a SeaFlir 230 Electro-optic system as well as with a Black Hornet nano UAS. MARTAC recently tested the T12 with both systems. The MANTAS can actually be used as a "mothership" to deploy several Black Hornets.

In this configuration, the USV has a top speed of 30 knots and range of around 50 nautical miles. The top speed of the MANTAS T12 in light/baseline configuration is an impressive 50 knots. The T12 has a payload of 140 lbs (about 63 Kg) and an endurance of around 30 days (depending on the mission profiles).

MARTAC told us at the show that the MANTAS T12 may also come in "communication relay" and "mine avoidance" variants.

The company is constantly working on improving and developing their concept: MARTAC should roll out later this year a hybrid variant of the MANTAS which will be able to hide (idle) or navigate (at low speed) underwater. MARTAC is also working on fitting new generation, high efficiency, solar panels on top of the MANTAS which would give it "weeks" of endurance.


Military Ocean Terminal - ISR and Security Missions with T12 and T6. MARTAC picture.

Throughout 2017, MARTAC demonstrated its MANTAS USV with the US military:

U.S. Navy Citadel Protect

MARTAC was invited to demonstrate MANTAS ISR capabilities as part of Navy’s Citadel Protect Harbor Security Exercise in San Diego, CA. MARTAC successfully collaborated with Spatial Integrated Systems, Inc. (SIS), and SPAWAR's Near-shore Unified Tactical Response (NUTR) System as part of the exercise. A MANTAS T8 deployed with a FLIR EO/IR PTZ camera demonstrated a rapid response ISR capability to the harbor security professionals and Service Members. This was the first event to showcase a remotely operated FLIR EO/IR Gyro stabilized sensor on a USV platform.

U.S. Army Thunderstorm 17-3

As a result of performing exceptional at the U.S. Army sponsored Thunderstorm 17-3, MARTAC was the only Unmanned Maritime platform selected to participate in the Military Ocean Terminal-Concept Demonstration (MOT-CD) in Concord, CA. One of the key demonstrated highlights was the ability to detect intruders/incursions both above and below water. The MARTAC team was also the first to successfully integrate an USV directly into the Army’s Integrated Sensor Architecture (ISA) common operating picture. This allowed MANTAS to send our video and sonar data real time to the Army’s Command Operations
Center.


Remote Controlled Launch of T6 from the cradle on the SeaMob stern was initiated from the Command Center 200+ miles away in Norfolk, VA.

Bold Alligator 17

MARTAC participated in the Navy and Marine Corps’ Bold Alligator 17 International Amphibious Exercise in Camp Lejeune, NC. MARTAC once again joined forces with our autonomy partner SIS during the exercise to demonstrate remote multi-craf (ISR/Swarm) operations. Once all USV's were in position on the Intra-Coastal Waterway (ICW), vessel control was given to the SIS/Bold Alligator Command Center at NAVSTA Norfolk, VA.

Multiple MANTAS USV's, along with DOD’s unmanned SeaMob RHIB and "Alligator Alice" craft, navigated as a “swarm” under the control of the remote command center. Further autonomous capability demonstrations included the remote launch of a MANTAS from the unmanned SeaMob. The T12 was also manually launched from the bow ramp of Alligator Alice and subsequently controlled by the command center in Norfolk, VA.

Multisensor operations were also a critical required. To meet this requirement T12 was configured with both a SEAFLIR EO/IR camera and a Teledyne BlueView sonar. Video feeds from both sensors were simultaneously “live” streamed back to the remote command center.


Navy Recognition had the chance to visit MARTAC in Florida this winter. Our video report on the MANTAS T6 will be published soon.

System Integration & Engineering Advancements in 2017:
External Integrations
❖ SIS – Swarm Control Technology
❖ ISA – Army’s sensor network (Integrated Sensor Architecture)
❖ NUTR – Near-Shore Unified Tactical Response common operating picture application
Industry Payloads/Sensors
❖ Electro-Optical/Infrared Gyro Stabilized Cameras
❖ Multi-Beam Scanning and Forward-Facing Sonar Systems
❖ Electronic Warfare Equipment
Communications
❖ Conventional Military Grade Line of Sight Radios
❖ MANTAS to Shore “live-video” communications streams for sensor payloads
MARTAC Systems
❖ CAS – Collision Avoidance System using LIDAR technology
❖ TASKER Updates – Constant improvement of core MANTAS systems

MARTAC is set to have a strong presence at the Navy League's Sea Air Space 2018 tradeshow in April. Their MANTAS will be taking part in several demonstrations on the river.
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[*] posted on 23-1-2018 at 09:40 PM


Lockheed Martin Studying Integration of LRASM Anti-Ship Missile on USV Platforms

Posted On Monday, 22 January 2018 23:33

At the Surface Navy Association's (SNA) 2017 National Symposium held last year, Lockheed Martin was showcasing a Mark VI patrol boat scale model fitted with an erectable launcher for four missiles at its stern. This conceptual model was representative of an unmanned Mark VI patrol boat fitted with LRASM next generation anti ship missiles.


Conceptual scale model of a Mark VI fitted with 4x LRASM anti-ship missiles on Lockheed Martin stand at SNA 2017

Lockheed Martin representatives told Navy Recognition at the time (SNA 2017), that the Pentagon’s Strategic Capabilities Office (SCO) awarded Lockheed Martin a contract to study the integration of AGM-158C LRASM on unmanned surface vehicles (USV). The idea would be to pre-position the USVs in strategic areas such as straits and bays. The key benefit would come from combining the endurance, survivability of the USV (its small size making it harder to detect) to the performance of the LRASM (range in excess of 200 nautical miles).

At SNA 2018 all we learned is that studies are ongoing. No one at Lockheed Martin could answer our questions. It wouldn't be surprising however if a bigger platform is being considered for this application. Displacing just 85 tons, the Mark VI patrol boat has a payload capacity of 5,000 Kg. A missile expert (who wished to remain unnamed) informed us that a LRASM missile alone weighs about 1,150 Kg (this seems to be corroborated by a Breaking Defense article mentioning a weight of 2,500 lbs or 1,133 Kg). The same missile expert explained that a "ready to fire" LRASM is probably closer to 2,000 Kg taking into account the large booster (similar to the one used for the RUM-139 VL-ASROC) and the launching system. Fitting four of those missiles at the stern of a Mark VI patrol boat seems like an impossible task (even with the pilothouse and crew accommodation removed which would likely be the case for a USV-configured Mark VI). In addition to increased payload capacity, a larger USV would offer greater range, endurance and therefore persistence. LRASM could likely be launched from BAE Systems' Adaptable Deck Launcher (ADL) fitted on a larger USV. This launcher would be less complex to operate and to integrate than an erectable one. ADL was unveiled at SNA 2018, follow this link to learn more about it.


Successful boosted test vehicle flight demonstrating LRASM missile egress, flight with existing Mk-114 ASROC booster. Lockheed Martin file picture (2014).

About LRASM

LRASM is a next-generation, precision-guided stealth missile capable of semi-autonomously detecting and identifying targeted enemy ships. The precision routing and guidance technology of the sensor - which doesn’t rely exclusively on intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems, networking links, or GPS navigation - enables the missile to operate effectively in contested domains and all weather conditions, day or night.

LRASM is designed to detect and destroy specific targets within groups of ships by employing advanced technologies that reduce dependence on intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance platforms, network links and GPS navigation in electronic warfare environments. LRASM will play a significant role in ensuring military access to operate in open ocean/blue waters, owing to its enhanced ability to discriminate and conduct tactical engagements from extended ranges.

LRASM is based on the successful Joint Air-to-Surface Standoff Missile - Extended Range (JASSM-ER). It is designed to meet the needs of U.S. Navy and Air Force warfighters in contested environments. The air-launched variant provides an early operational capability for the U.S. Navy’s offensive anti-surface warfare Increment I requirement to be integrated onboard the U.S. Air Force’s B-1B in 2018 and on the U.S. Navy’s F/A-18E/F Super Hornet in 2019. Lockheed Martin a surface-launch variant of LRASM from a topside canister in July 2017.


Coastal Riverine Squadron Four (CRS-4) conducting well deck operations with the Mark VI patrol boat aboard amphibious assault ship USS Bataan (LHD 5). US Navy picture.

About the Mark VI patrol boat (PB)

The MK VI is a next generation PB and the latest addition to the US Navy fleet of PB. The 85 foot combatant craft’s hull is optimized for performance, fuel economy and firepower. The MK VI PB is configured with both an ergonomically designed pilothouse seating 5 operators: The Engineer (taking care of the engines and Mk 38 turret), the Navigator, the coxswain, the communication engineer and the boat Captain.

The MK VI PB has a range of 600 nautical miles and is fitted with two MTU 16V2000 M94 engines and two Hamilton HM651 waterjets.

The MK VI PB can be deployed from US Navy LPD 17 and LHDs: To do so, it is fitted with two kick stands at the stern to stabilize it in the well deck.

SAFE Boats International in Tacoma, Washington state was awarded a contract to provide the US Navy with 6 MK VI PBs in May 2012 with an another contract for 4 more boats awarded in July 2014. The U.S. Navy Coastal Riverine Group 2 has taken ownership of the first two Mark VI in September 2015.


Close up view of the LRASM erectable launcher of the Mark VI patrol boat scale model

About the SCO

Established by Secretary Ashton Carter in 2012, the SCO imagines new—often unexpected and game-changing—uses of existing government and commercial systems: extending their shelf-life and restoring surprise to the military’s playbook. In addition to warfare strategies, SCO also analyzes options for revealing capabilities prior to conflict to increase doubt, impose cost, or maintain deterrence against potential adversaries.
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[*] posted on 1-2-2018 at 04:18 PM


ACTUV “Sea Hunter” Prototype Transitions to Office of Naval Research for Further Development

(Source: Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency; issued Jan 30, 2018)



DARPA has successfully completed its Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) program and has officially transferred the technology demonstration vessel, christened Sea Hunter, to the Office of Naval Research (ONR).

ONR will continue developing the revolutionary prototype vehicle—the first of what could ultimately become an entirely new class of ocean-going vessel able to traverse thousands of kilometers over open seas for months at a time, without a single crew member aboard—as the Medium Displacement Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MDUSV).

“ACTUV’s move from DARPA to ONR marks a significant milestone in developing large-scale USV technology and autonomy capabilities,” said Alexander Walan, a program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office (TTO). “Our collaboration with ONR has brought closer to reality a future fleet in which both manned warships and capable large unmanned vessels complement each other to accomplish diverse, evolving missions.”

“ONR appreciates the truly impressive work by DARPA in advancing this technology, and the strong partnership we've had on ACTUV over the years,” said Robert Brizzolara, ONR program officer for MDUSV. “As ACTUV transfers from DARPA to ONR, ONR is looking forward to continuing and capitalizing on the science and technology work. In particular, we are already working on autonomous control, a challenging area that is key to maturing MDUSV and delivering it to the fleet.”

“ACTUV represents a new vision of naval surface warfare that trades small numbers of very capable, high-value assets for large numbers of commoditized, simpler platforms that are more capable in the aggregate,” said Fred Kennedy, TTO director. “The U.S. military has talked about the strategic importance of replacing ‘king’ and ‘queen’ pieces on the maritime chessboard with lots of ‘pawns,’ and ACTUV is a first step toward doing exactly that.”

The agencies’ collaboration started in September 2014, when DARPA and ONR agreed to jointly fund an extended test phase of an ACTUV prototype. An April 2016 christening ceremony marked the vessel’s formal transition from a DARPA-led design and construction project to a new stage of open-water testing conducted jointly with ONR in San Diego, Calif.

In October 2016, DARPA and ONR began at-sea testing of Sea Hunter’s sensing and autonomy suites. Between February and September 2017, the vessel passed three progressively challenging tests to integrate the suites and use them to comply with International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) in operationally realistic scenarios.

DARPA and ONR also conducted tests to prove a key element of the ACTUV/MDUSV design: the flexibility to handle diverse missions by switching among modular payloads. Sea Hunter had a successful joint test in September 2016 with DARPA’s Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems (TALONS) research effort. In August 2017, the vessel conducted at-sea tests with a mine countermeasures (MCM) payload.

ONR plans additional at-sea tests to further develop ACTUV/MDUSV technologies, including automating payload and sensor data processing, rapidly developing new mission-specific autonomous behaviors, and exploring autonomous coordination among multiple USVs. Pending test results, MDUSV could transition to U.S. Navy operations by 2018.

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[*] posted on 18-2-2018 at 08:17 PM


ECA Group to take part in EU-funded OCEAN2020 project

Posted On Friday, 16 February 2018 12:21

ECA Group is part of a winning consortium OCEAN2020, a project related to the first European Defence Found’s initiative to boost Europe's defence capabilities, issued by the European Union under the ‘Preparatory Action on Defence Research’ programme. The competitive selection was conducted by the European Defence Agency.


(Credit: ECA Group)

ECA Group takes part in this project with its suite of cutting-edge robotic systems dedicated to maritime homeland security and defence solutions.

Within the Leonardo-led OCEAN2020 team, ECA Group will collaborate with partners from 15 European countries. These include the Ministries of Defence of: Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Lithuania, with additional support from the Ministries of Defence of Sweden, France, the United Kingdom, Estonia and the Netherlands.

OCEAN2020 is the first example of a cross-European military research programme to-date. The bid required a thorough analysis of operational requirements and a technologically-innovative yet operationally-realistic proposal. The research project also will see the integration of unmanned platforms in surveillance and interdiction missions.

OCEAN2020 will see unmanned platforms of different type (UAVs with fixed wings or rotary wings, surface - UAVs and underwater-UUVs robotics) integrated within naval units’ command and control centres, allowing for data exchange via satellite, with command and control centres on land. The joint and cooperative use of both manned and unmanned vehicles will also be demonstrated as part of the project.

In addition to complex simulation work, OCEAN2020 project will involve two live demonstrations (in the Mediterranean and Baltic Seas) of maritime surveillance and interdiction operations, conducted by European fleets using unmanned aircraft, surface vessels and underwater systems. The data collected by various systems during these two demos will be processed and sent to a prototype European command and control centre in Brussels.

ECA Group will be a prominent actor during the first demo, coordinated by the Italian Navy, scheduled to take place in the Mediterranean Sea in 2019. With the planned support of the French Navy, along with unmanned platforms from partners SAFRAN (France), IDE (Greece), and CMRE (NATO), ECA Group will deploy its Inspector MKII USV and one of its A-serie AUVs (A9, A18, A27) to conduct maritime interdiction operations against suspicious vessels involved in illegal weapons trafficking and smuggling activities. Part of the missions deals with the localisation and the identification of sunken illegal goods/weapons on the seabed. This is achieved efficiently through the collaborative teamwork of the USVs/AUVs whose mission can be configured, planned for, executed and supervised using ECA Group Mission Management Platform UMIS. Recovery of the sunken, localised/identified, crates could then be performed, whenever decided, by a remotely operated ROV (ECA Group range of ROVs).

Through its participation to OCEAN2020 and its collaboration with key industrial partners, ECA Group’s ambition is to bring its contribution to the construction of European Defence as a global provider of top-notch operational maritime robotic solutions based on collaborating unmanned vehicles, covering a wide range of markets and applications from underwater, surface, or the air.
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[*] posted on 29-3-2018 at 06:19 PM


An International ASW Exercise Demonstrated the Unique Capabilities of Elbit Systems' USV

(Source: Elbit Systems; issued March 28, 2018)


Elbit claims its Seagull unmanned boat demonstrated its “unique” capabilities during a recent exercise, but provides no details and does not substantiate this claim. (Elbit photo)

HAIFA, Israel --- Elbit Systems Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV), the Seagull, participated in a joint Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) exercise of the Israeli and the French navies held recently in the Mediterranean.

Under the Israeli Navy command, an ASW force that included two Israeli ASW vessels, a frigate and an ASW helicopter of the Marine National and the Seagull, performed ASW missions against an Israeli Navy submarine.

The joint force has simultaneously operated manned and unmanned surface and airborne vessels, practicing advanced means and tactics for submarine detection and deterrence.

In addition to ASW capabilities, the Seagull features switchable, modular mission payload suites and can perform Mines Counter Measures (MCM) missions, Electronic Warfare (EW), Maritime Security (MS), Hydrography and other missions using the same vessel, mission control system and data links.

Seagull offers navies a true force multiplier delivering enhanced performance to naval operations, reducing risk to human life and dramatically cutting procurement and operating costs.

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[*] posted on 6-4-2018 at 06:12 PM


MAXCMAS explores USV anti-collision clearance

Nick Brown, London - Jane's International Defence Review

05 April 2018


The MAXCMAS trials routed a standard ARCIMS USV through other shipping to demonstrate collision avoidance standards. Source: Atlas Elektronik

A UK study led by Rolls-Royce has demonstrated that a combination of relatively basic sensors and a simple set of algorithms can enable unmanned surface vessels (USVs) to meet or exceed the International Maritime Organisation (IMO’s) COLREGS collision-avoidance regulations.

The results from the study, which was concluded in late March, potentially mean that new legislation will not necessarily have to be developed to govern the growing use of unmanned systems in and around busy shipping areas.

The Machine Executable Collision Regulations for Marine Autonomous Systems (MAXCMAS) project created algorithms based on close study of crews in the Warsash Maritime Academy’s (WMA) networked bridge simulators. These were then integrated with a set of COLREGS-interpreted rules that were uploaded into the navigation and control software in an Atlas Elektronik Atlas Remote Capability Integrated Mission Suite (ARCIMS) USV for live trials.

Once the MAXCMAS concept had been proven in simulators, ARCIMS was deployed with its standard sensor and navigation suite, along with the Atlas Elektronik Autonomy Engine to plan a passage. The craft subsequently completed its transit, employing the MAXCMAS rule interpretations to guide its routing, even accounting for other - manned - vessels not obeying the COLREGS, or interpreting them differently, and refusing to give way.

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[*] posted on 18-4-2018 at 08:39 PM


DSA 2018: Al Seer gazes eastwards

18th April 2018 - 10:16 GMT | by Gordon Arthur in Kuala Lumpur



Al Seer Marine Technologies, a company based in the UAE, promoted its second-generation USVs at the DSA 2018 exhibition in Kuala Lumpur.

While one of its designs is set to go operational with an unnamed military in the Middle East region, the company is also excited about its prospects in the Asian region, Lee Drinkwater, Al Seer’s head of business development and strategy, told Shephard.

Countries with littoral security concerns, such as Malaysia and the Philippines, are prime candidates for the type of platforms that the Abu Dhabi-based company can offer.

An important product line is the Tamin series of USVs, an 11.5m-long interdiction platform (pictured above).Weighing approximately 7.2t, the Tamin has a maximum speed of 45kt and a cruising speed of 30kt. At the latter speed its range is 300nm.

As well as a diesel engine and twin Hamilton waterjets, the Tamin has six lithium-ion batteries that allow the boat to loiter stealthily for up to 8h on surveillance missions before the diesels need to be turned on.

Company literature listed ‘stabilised government-furnished equipment, launch tubes, pyrotechnics, long-range audio devices and dazzlers’ as possible payloads for the Tamin.
The company is currently in discussions to design an even bigger USV, at least double the size of the Tamin.

Al Seer also offers the Cat series of mine countermeasures USVs (optionally manned/unmanned), the 4m Hydra series and the 11m Ramah RHIB series.

Drinkwater noted that each USV is customised to user requirements. He said that the company’s experience in shipbuilding, robotics and integration mean that R&D is efficient and responsive to customer requests.

Al Seer Marine Technologies created its own control system software and collision avoidance system. Furthermore, there are no ITAR restrictions on its equipment offered for export.

Drinkwater said the response at DSA had been ‘overwhelming’ as the firm is now seeking more publicity for its activities and products. Internationally, the company is talking seriously to three potential customers.

Al Seer can also offer USV leasing options, which may be a more cost-effective solution for countries unable to stump up for the upfront costs of buying a small fleet of USVs.
Drinkwater said another area of exploration is carrying AUVs aboard its USVs for a wider range of missions.
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[*] posted on 6-6-2018 at 08:25 PM


China’s Yunzhou Tech performs swarming USV demonstration

Kelvin Wong, Singapore - Jane's International Defence Review

05 June 2018


China’s Yunzhou Tech has performed a series of swarming USV demonstrations with its ME40 unmanned surface vessel. Seen here is the CL40Y platform, which shares the same size and hull design. Source: IHS Markit/Kelvin Wong

Yunzhou Intelligence Technology (Yunzhou Tech), a Zhuhai-based company specialising in designing and manufacturing unmanned surface vessels (USVs), performed a swarming USV demonstration comprising 56 autonomous USVs in the Wanshan Archipelago – in the south-eastern province of Guangdong bordering Hong Kong and Macau – on 29 May, a company source confirmed to Jane’s .

According to a Yunzhou Tech spokesperson, the technology demonstration was conducted using modified ME40 USVs that were equipped with specially developed ‘autonomy modules’.

These systems provide the sea vehicles with real-time decision making and collaborative engagement capabilities, enabling them to perform complex and high-risk manoeuvres with minimal human intervention.

According to company specifications, the ME40 USV is a 1.63 m long, 0.71 m wide, and 0.37 m tall modular USV that is typically configured for hydrographic surveys. The sea vehicle is constructed from fibre-reinforced composites and is powered by a 14.8 V lithium polymer battery that enables it to operate for up to 3 hours when cruising at an economical speed of 3 n miles/hr, although it can also perform short-duration sprints of up to 7.7 n miles/hr.

The ME40 is equipped with a bi-directional radio frequency (RF) communications suite, with a maximum control radius of 5 km. Data transmission, including video streaming, is effective within 2 km.

“In the face of rough and complex sea conditions, a sea formation [comprising] 56 unmanned small boats manoeuvred neatly, avoiding islands and reefs, and quickly adopting new formations,” the company said in a statement to Jane's .

Besides cruising in a tight formation amid the complex island geography and marine features of the archipelago, the USVs also formed the outline of Liaoning – the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s first aircraft carrier – as well as the Chinese characters of ‘military’ and ‘people’ that symbolises civil–military integration, a key strategy by the Chinese government to advance military capability by leveraging advanced technologies and techniques in commercial domains.

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[*] posted on 7-6-2018 at 04:52 PM


Rafael’s "Protector USV" Conducts Successful Missile Firing Exercise for NATO

(Source: Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd.; issued June
06, 2018)


Although not identified by Rafael, the “NATO ship” that took part in the demonstration of the Protector USV’s counter-swarm capabilities is the Spanish Navy’s Santa Maria-class frigate “Victoria” (Rafael photo)

Rafael Advanced Defense Systems Ltd. carried out a successful exercise for NATO forces, to demonstrate the capabilities of the "Protector USV" against naval swarm threats. The demo included a simulated firing of Spike missiles to neutralize the threat. The exercise took place along the shores of Israel.

In the exercise, a NATO ship spotted a large number of hostile vessels advancing towards it quickly (a swarm attack). The ship reported back to headquarters, which was followed by deployment of Rafael’s Protector USV that identified the threat from a long distance. An order was then given to neutralize one of the threats, and the Protector simulated the firing of a Rafael SPIKE precise, electro-optical missile.

Moshe Elazar, EVP and Head of the Land and Naval Systems Division at Rafael, noted that the demonstration of the Protector's capabilities to the NATO force further enhances the need to handle the threats emanating from terror and criminal activity that naval forces are facing around the world, including swarm attacks.

The demonstration illustrated some of the capabilities that can be applied by the Protector in a wide range of operational scenarios. These capabilities are a significant force multiplier for the naval forces, from the stage of detection, deterrence and, if necessary, neutralization of the threat, as was seen in the demonstration.

In March 2017, Rafael announced it had completed a series of successful tests in which a number of SPIKE missiles were launched from the Protector and hit simulated enemy targets. This was the first-ever missile firing from an operational, remote-controlled USV.

This new capability allows pin-point attack of land or naval targets, enabling safe vessel operation, with no risk to the operating force, from a remote command and control room or from aboard other naval platforms.

The Protector has been in use since 2004, allowing its developers and engineers to accumulate vast experience to continue its spiral development.

The test finalized the operational integration process of Protector's entire suite of mission components to form four mission modules, including force protection and anti-terror, by employing a stabilized weapon station – Mini-Typhoon, a water cannon, non-lethal means, EW systems for protection and escort of naval vessels, Mine Counter-Measures to deal with the spreading threat of mines against sea lines of communication, Toplite electro-optical long-range detection and tracking systems, as well as Rafael's Spike missiles, all remotely-operated.

The Protector is adaptable to civilian applications, including access to disaster, contamination and radiation zones, seabed mapping, and many other applications.

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[*] posted on 17-7-2018 at 07:42 PM


Metal Shark and ASV Global Introduce SHARKTECH Autonomous Vessels

Posted On Tuesday, 17 July 2018 10:55

Louisiana, USA-based shipbuilder Metal Shark has joined forces with autonomous vessel technology developer ASV Global to introduce “Sharktech” Autonomous Vessels. Metal Shark is now offering Sharktech autonomous technology on its entire portfolio of vessels, which range from 16’ to over 300’ in aluminum, steel, and composite. Sharktech autonomous vessels may be custom configured for military, law enforcement, fire rescue, and the full spectrum of applicable commercial markets.

A SHARKTECH-equipped 38 Defiant autonomous vessel testing near Metal Shark’s Jeanerette, Louisiana headquarters in preparation for its public debut at MACC 2018. Photo credit: Metal Shark

“The industry has watched and waited as autonomous technology has matured from its fledgling stages, and today we’re offeringASV Global’s fully provenautonomous capability on our entire model lineup,” said Metal Shark CEO Chris Allard. “We are demystifying and streamlining the process of autonomous technology integrationby bringing this capability to market in turnkey form straight from the OEM. Check the box and get the option, on our full range of globally proven designs.”

“As the world’s largest and most experienced unmanned vessel technology company, ASV Global is proud to partner with Metal Shark to bring our industry-leading ASView unmannedvessel control technology to market,” said Thomas Chance, CEO of ASV Global. “The ASView control system offers multiple modesincludingunmanned operations, reduced manned operations, or conventional manned operations. In addition, ASV Global can assist with mission payload and sensorintegration, control, and remote supervision.”

“Sharktech autonomous vessel technology opens up myriad opportunities for operators in all sectors,” said Mr. Allard. “Similar to how advancements in aviation technology reduced aircraft cockpit crews, Sharktech offers crew reduction at the flip of a switch. Sharktechis ideal for dangerous missions in remote or hostile environments, for endurance missions where it may be necessary for vessels to loiter in a holding pattern for extended periods, or for any mission simply undesirable for a human crew.”

Beyond simple waypoint navigation or the execution of pre-programmed mission routes, Sharktech’sASView onboard digital control system features dynamic collision avoidance with robust decision-making capability. Depending on configuration, the system considers data from multiple situational awareness inputs, including multiple radars, 360-degree daylight and thermal cameras, and AIS to safely identify and steer clear of stationary and moving obstacles.

Sharktech’sASViewsystem allows for autonomous or remote operation of navigation and safety lighting, hailers and sirens, pumps, and other components.The systemalso supports the integration and autonomous or remote operation of a near-infinite range of specialized equipment, including fire pumps, monitors, and other fire-fighting equipment; hydrographic survey equipment; equipment for acoustic, oceanographic, or meteorological monitoring; and the full spectrum of FLIRs and other specialty cameras.

“While autonomous technology is perhaps most commonly associated with military applications, its value to commercial operators cannot be overlooked,” said Mr. Allard. “Sharktech’sbenefits for safety, crew reduction,endurance, and CONOPS flexibility are unprecedented in our industry, and we are only scratching the surface of its potential applications.”

The vessel’s operations may be monitored from a mother ship via radio link, or from shore via satellite link. In the instance of lost primary and backup communications, the vessel will assume pre-programmed behavior, such as station-keeping.

Other safety features include geo-fence tools, emergency-stop buttons, and the ability to switch from autonomous to manual control at any time.

To showcase the new technology, Metal Shark and ASV Global are taking a Sharktech-equipped Metal Shark 38 Defiant patrol boat to the 2018 Multi Agency Craft Conference (MACC) in Baltimore, Maryland for demonstration on July 18th and 19th.

The Sharktech demo vessel showcases multiple layers of autonomy, as it also carries a Shearwater aerial drone from Planck Aerosystems that may be launched, flown, and landed autonomously from the moving vessel thanks to an integrated navigation and guidance system.

In order to rapidly meet anticipated demand, Metal Shark has pre-engineered its most popular models for Sharktech autonomous capability, and has also added Sharktech vessels to its Stock Boats program, which utilizes staged hulls and repurposes in-production units to drastically reduce lead times.

“Depending on propulsion and desired equipment, we can currently deliver a fully-autonomous Sharktech-equipped 38 Defiant in as little as 60 days,” said Mr. Allard.

VIDEO: https://vimeo.com/279567406
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[*] posted on 21-9-2018 at 09:11 AM


AAD 2018: CSOC reveals details of armed USV concept

Richard D Fisher Jr, Pretoria - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

20 September 2018


Shipbuilder CSOC showcases a concept for a new 20-tonne armed USV at the AAD 2018 exhibition. Source: Richard D Fisher Jr

Officials from Chinese state-owned shipbuilder China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Company (CSOC) have revealed technical specifications of a concept for a new 20-tonne armed unmanned surface vessel (USV) it is showcasing at the Africa Aerospace and Defence (AAD) 2018 exhibition in South Africa on 19–23 September.

Called the ‘JARI USV Multipurpose Unmanned Combat Boat’, the 15 m-long platform, which is being developed by the 716 Research Institute of the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation (CSIC), is expected to have a top speed of 42 kt and a range of 500 n miles.

According to the officials, the vessel, a prototype of which is currently undergoing testing, is equipped with a phased-array radar, satellite communication systems, and a mid-hull-mounted variable depth sonar, although the USV must stop to be able to use it.

According to the officials, the vessel can be armed with a 30 mm cannon combined with small surface-to-air missiles, mid-hull-mounted vertically-launched anti-ship and anti-aircraft missiles as well as two side-mounted lightweight anti-submarine torpedoes.

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[*] posted on 27-9-2018 at 02:08 PM


MDM 2018: More than “a Positionable, Controllable Buoy”


SubSeaSail has been developing its self-described “positionable, controllable buoy” (above) with internal funds during the last 18 months.(Image: SeaSubSail)

SubSeaSail has been developing its self-described “positionable, controllable buoy” with internal funds during the last 18 months.

During a walkabout of the Modern Day Marine conference grounds, Mark Ott, one partner of the San Diego-based company, said the fully functional platform is at Technology Readiness Level 6, which in US DoD acquisition language, notes this representative model or prototype system, has been tested in a relevant environment, and represents a major step up in a technology’s demonstrated readiness.

Chris Todter is the second SeaSubSail partner and Michael Jones is the company’s Managing Partner.

“This system is self-deployable on the water,” the industry expert added, and pointed out, “two of us place this in the water, and either tow it out of the harbor behind our testing boat or let it sail out on its own.”

The sailing drone, with its hull and keel submerged under water, and propelled by a wind-catching assembly above water, can achieve 3kts in about 12 kts of wind. Mr Ott added: “This goes indefinitely, because it sails using the wind and uses solar power generated inside the transparent wing to cover the 'house load' and power for the payload.”

This persistent, and self-deploying and retrieving platform, can be fitted with whatever sensors the customer is interested in using to gain more data on the environment – meteorological, defence, subsurface or other. “This is an autonomous platform that can perform received instructions – it can stay on station indefinitely or sail to one or more locations, and it is affordable – less than $(US) 20,000 once in quantity production,” Mr Ott continued.

To date, SubSeaSail has successfully demonstrated Iridium communications, WiFi, radio and like command and control systems on this vessel. SubSeaSail is looking for collaborative industry partners and funding to take this vessel to TRL 7 and higher – integrating other sensors and systems to “talk to” and understand what information they need to glean from the area in which the vessel is operating.

Mr Ott was asked to differentiate SubSeaSail from other competitors. He pointed out, when compared to a wave glider in this market space, for instance, his platform has greater speed and performance, and holds station better against local currents. And whereas a wave glider is dependent on wave, the SubSeaSail is dependent on what makes waves – the wind: “We’re further up the energy stream in terms of tapping into what we’re using to go someplace. And of course, we’re easily deployable from ship – where we just drop it in the water and the same thing for retrieving – it’s very easy for retrieving.”

Conceptually, the SubSeaSail platform can be networked or included in a “swarm” to allow the operator to learn more about a harbor, chokepoint or other geographical area.

SubSeaSail has been demonstrated to the US Navy and some academic institutions. The SubSeaSail platform should operate in Sea State 3 without problem and a future version will completely submerge when needed.

The big advantage is by having the cargo and keel underwater “we’re not producing any waves, so we don’t have ‘wave making drag’,” Mr. Ott concluded. This vessel, which is completely scalable, is useful in many applications in commercial, military and scientific sectors. The first US patent has been issued and others are pending.

Marty Kauchak
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[*] posted on 4-10-2018 at 08:34 PM


ECA Group Unveils New 'INSPECTOR 120' 12 Meters USV for MCM

Posted On Wednesday, 03 October 2018 08:41

ECA Group unveiled a new USV design, the INSPECTOR 120, as a part of its range of robotic and autonomous systems for naval applications, including mine counter measures. ECA Group has been designing and delivering unmanned surface vehicles (USV) for 15 years. After supplying INSPECTOR Mk1 to the DGA in 2008, ECA Group has developed and supplied to several navies with its unmanned surface vehicle INSPECTOR 90.


A typical MIDS configuration onboard INSPECTOR 120 with 6 K-STER

Benefitting from a standardized and sea proven USV

This USV is 9 meters long and is able to carry Mine Identification and Destruction Systems (MIDS) and to automatically deploy these underwater robots for identification (SEASCAN) and neutralization (K-STER C) of sea mines. The INSPECTOR 90 can also carry two sonars, one on its front arm for very shallow operations and a TOWSCA towed sonar for underwater mine detection. The USV INSPECTOR 90 is therefore a USV that can perform all underwater mine clearance missions from mine detection to its destruction. This USV can also be used as a radio relay between other drones (AUV, UAV) and the mothership for the transmission of remote commands and sonar or video data.

It was successfully demonstrated in Belgium in September 2017 as part of a Belgian-Dutch acquisition program for 12 mine hunters equipped with unmanned systems for which a call for tender is currently open.

Improved performance and payload capacity

The new generation of minehunters (70 to 90m) carries larger underwater drones for greater endurance and better performances. Today, with the evolution of operational constraints and increasing recommendations regarding safety of crew, customers want more and more to deploy their underwater robots from an USV. To address this need, ECA Group, helped by its subsidiary BE MAURIC specialized for 50 years in naval architecture, has designed the INSPECTOR 120 a new 12 m long USV.

The INSPECTOR 120 includes all the features that made the INSPECTOR 90 a success with a greater endurance, a higher payload capacity and superior nautical performances. It has been designed to automatically deploy the most performant ECA Group unmanned systems (UUVs) such as AUV (Autonomous Underwater Vehicle) A18-M, towed sonars T18-M, MIDS, etc.

The hull of the INSPECTOR 120 is a best compromise for sea keeping, both in transit and at very low speed for launching and recovery of UUVs. Thanks to dedicated Launch And Recovery Systems (LARS) also proposed by ECA Group, INSPECTOR 120 can be deployed from any vessel of length about 50m and beyond.


INSPECTOR 120 carrying a mid-size AUV with its LARS

To be integrated on MCM warships and UMISTM compatible

The design of this USV is a result of a study on a comprehensive range of ship platforms capable to carry different configurations of ECA Group’s UMISTM systems for MCM missions. Thus, BE MAURIC recently introduced the design of its new family of drone-carrying vessels, each of these naval platforms being suitable for carrying a typical UMISTM system configuration.

The launching and recovery of USVs by sea 4 or 5 is an important criterion for the MCM vessel's capacity evaluation.

The USVs of the INSPECTOR range are therefore particularly studied for the best possible integration on minehunter and BE MAURIC is working on the optimization of this integration as well as on automated recovery of USVs. The results of this work will also be presented during EURONAVAL exhibition from 23rd -26th October.

Customize your USV: modularity for sensors adaptation and performance needs

The contribution of BE MAURIC to ECA Group’s development is increasing, ranging from integration of unmanned systems onboard ships to the USVs design itself. This last point is crucial because the USVs, like any other naval platforms, shall be adapted to specific mission requirements. Even if it is an off the shelf product, the INSPECTOR 120 can also be adapted according to the specific needs in terms of sensors, or customer’s performance requirements.
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[*] posted on 24-10-2018 at 06:40 PM


Euronaval 2018: iXblue's DriX USV enters defense market

POSTED ON TUESDAY, 23 OCTOBER 2018 19:18

Launched over a year ago on the civilian market, iXblue’s Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV), DriX, proved to be a real game changer and already conducted many successful operations ranging from subsea positioning to bathymetry missions, the French company said at Euronaval 2018. The Defense community soon identified DriX as a real asset which would bring added value on the battlefield while keeping crews out of harm’s way.


ixblue Drix iXblue's DriX USV at Euronaval 2018

Diverging from traditional USVs, DriX offers unmatched seakeeping and high speed transit capabilities (up to 14 knots) thanks to its highly hydrodynamic hull, along with an enhanced autonomy of up to 10 days. Its sensors-embedded gondola, two meters under the surface, ensures optimal data gathering within an exceptionally calm environment. DriX can also host a wide range of payloads. Thanks to its open architecture, it can be tuned to fit the needs of any military integrator and can be used to conduct diverse military operations.

Military bathymetry in peace-time will benefit straight away from everything DriX brings to the market such as enhanced data collection, vessel time savings, and an extended working envelope.

DriX is also an undeniable asset for REA missions. Able to conduct bathymetry at great speed, it will decrease survey time while ensuring optimal data gathering. Launched by the amphibious force beyond the horizon, DriX is perfect for under-cover operations. It can sail stealthily inside the Area of Operation thanks to its reduced radar cross section and heat signature, while working completely independently from the mother ship.

DriX is in a unique position to provide a most needed edge to address the submarines’ technological evolution and proliferation everywhere on the planet, but also the reduction in the number of specialized frigates and destroyers. Discreet, it can detect or deter potential submarines thanks to its abilities to tow new generation passive arrays, to carry active sources or to be part of a multi-static organization.

Thanks to iXblue’s knowledge in underwater detection and navigation, DriX is also in a position to conduct Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) tracking, subsea positioning and detection. As a surface asset, DriX has no communication nor positioning issue. By being geographically close, it can communicate with submerged AUVs and provide them with the accuracy they miss, while also sending back the gathered data to the mine warfare commander.

International initiatives were recently encouraged to address the logistic of Emergency Disaster Relief. For coastal countries or islands, this means access from the sea. And one cannot wait for harbor facilities to be rebuilt before sending in help. To that extent, DriX is also a game changer as it can clear a path to access the pier of a damaged harbor. It can also conduct immediate bathymetric damage assessment of the harbor and coastal submerged infrastructures in order to help prioritize the rebuilding phase.

With DriX, iXblue is providing an additional way to conduct Maritime Operations. Thanks to its LARS, it is either deployed from the coastline, from an amphibious ship dock or from a frigate davit. The system requires few people and its simplicity and efficiency will make DriX as routine and easy to use as a helicopter or a RHIB. Completing and enhancing the existing assets, it will bring the Force provision of warning and bring an extra layer of defense whilst keeping humans in safer environments.
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[*] posted on 7-11-2018 at 09:19 AM


Airshow China 2018: Yunzhou Tech showcases armed USV development

Kelvin Wong, Zhuhai, China - Jane's International Defence Review

06 November 2018

China's Yunzhou Intelligence Technology (Yunzhou Tech), a company specialising in the design and manufacture of unmanned surface vehicles (USVs), has unveiled a new armed USV at Airshow China 2018 held in Zhuhai from 6 to 11 November.

The company has integrated two types of weapon systems on its L30 multirole USV, which displaces 3.75 tonnes and has a length, width, and height of 7.5 m, 2.7 m, and 4.2 m, respectively. The sea vehicle is equipped with a pair of marine diesel engines that gives it maximum speed of 45 kt with an endurance of around 310 n miles at an economical speed of 22 kt.

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[*] posted on 7-11-2018 at 07:05 PM


Airshow China 2018: Yunzhou Tech showcases armed USV development

Kelvin Wong, Zhuhai, China - Jane's International Defence Review

07 November 2018


The L30 USV seen equipped with a four-cell guided missile launcher. Source: IHS Markit/Kelvin Wong

China's Yunzhou Intelligence Technology (Yunzhou Tech), a company specialising in the design and manufacture of unmanned surface vehicles (USVs), has unveiled a new armed USV at Airshow China 2018 held in Zhuhai from 6 to 11 November.

The company has integrated two types of weapon systems on its L30 multirole USV, which displaces 3.75 tonnes and has a length, width, and height of 7.5 m, 2.7 m, and 4.2 m, respectively. The sea vehicle is equipped with a pair of marine diesel engines that gives it maximum speed of 45 kt with an endurance of around 310 n miles at an economical speed of 22 kt.

The first is a variant that is designed to patrol coastal waters or secure port or other maritime facilities, which is equipped with a stabilised remote weapon system (RWS) and armed with a 12.7 mm heavy machine gun to engage threats up to 1.5 km away.

The second model is a littoral warfare platform that is armed with a four-cell missile launcher and designed to engage surface threats. Details of the weapon were not disclosed as the company is bound by non-disclosure obligations, but Jane's understands that a series of at-sea live firing trials had already been completed earlier in 2018, with a "100% hit rate" recorded after multiple tests.

The L30 USV is equipped with a mast-mounted electro-optical/infrared ball turret that can discern a small boat target at distances in excess of 13 km in visual and infrared spectrums, and incorporates a laser rangefinder with a range in excess of 6 km.

Both variants are capable of surviving in sea state 4 conditions and can operate autonomously, although semi-autonomous or optionally manned operation is also possible.

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[*] posted on 9-11-2018 at 11:16 AM


Country's First Unmanned Missile Boat on Display at Airshow China

(Source: China Daily; posted Nov 08, 2018)


China’s first unmanned missile boat bears a close resemblance to Elbit’s Protector series, and like it also recently carried out its first missile launch, China Daily reported from Airshow China in Zhuhai. (CD photo)

China's first unmanned missile boat that recently tested missile launch is on display at the 12th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition (Airshow China) in Zhuhai, South China's Guangdong province.

The unmanned boat, Liaowangzhe-2, is the country's first and second globally to fire a missile successfully. A remote-controlled unmanned ship of Israel's "Protector" series successfully fired a missile during an exercise last year.

It is for the first time that Liaowangzhe-2 is shown to the public. It is jointly developed by Zhuhai-based shipping developer Oceanalpha, Xi'an Institute of Modern Control Technology and Huazhong Institute of Electro-Optics.

The unmanned boat is 7.5 meters long and 2.7 meters wide, having a tonnage of 3.7 tons and a maximum speed of 45 knots. It can sail about 310 nautical miles at a speed of 22 knots. It can be used in sea conditions leveled below rough, or waves below 2.5 meters high.

Liaowangzhe-2 is a reconnaissance and strike integrated unmanned vehicle, and it is equipped with a quadruple missile launcher in the front to launch four missiles with a maximum range of 5 kilometers under an image-aided terminal guidance system.

It can be used for patrol missions around islands and border waters, attacking medium and small targets on the sea and land. A group of such boats could also carry out disability strike on large targets.

The boat has different operation modes, such as fully autonomous, semi-autonomous and remote-controlled.

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[*] posted on 9-11-2018 at 01:14 PM


China Shows Off Self-Steering Boat that Fires Missiles

BY PAULINA GLASS
&
PATRICK TUCKER
TECHNOLOGY EDITOR

NOVEMBER 7, 2018


Liaowangzhe-2 is shown at the 12th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, South China's Guangdong province, Nov 6, 2018.
PHOTO BY VGC VIA CHINA DAILY

But the U.S. still appears to have the edge in sophisticated seagoing drones.

China has developed an autonomous boat that can conduct reconnaissance and fire up to four guided missiles, state-run media reported. Manufactured by Zhuhai Yunzhou Intelligence Technology, the 7.5-meter, 3.7-ton Liaowangzhe-2 was displayed for the first time at the China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition in Zhuhai, in southern China this week.

Operating autonomously or by remote control, Liaowangzhe-2 appears similar in function to to Israel’s Protector, which in March 2017 became the first unmanned boat to fire a missile, and which tested its capabilities against naval swarm threats with NATO earlier this week.

State-run media reported that China test-fired the boat’s missiles in October. The missiles have a range of up to 5 kilometers, project director Su Zhen told Global Times, but the boat’s real strengths are its stealth and its 45-knot speed. Su also said a human would make any decisions to fire a missile, even when the boat was operating autonomously.

China has been developing its unmanned naval capabilities, such as artificially intelligent submarines, primarily for patrol missions.

U.S. Vs. Chinese Roboboats

The U.S. has been the leader in highly autonomous ocean vessels since August 2014, when the Office of Naval Research staged a breakthrough demonstration on Virginia’s James River. Some 13 self-driving boats conducted a series of complex, coordinated maneuvers to protect a high-value ship and harass enemy vessels. Unlike aerial drones such as the Reaper that still require a human operator, the small rigid-hulled inflatable boats handled advanced swarming tricks with virtually no human guidance. The whole coordinated maneuver drill required just one person, who relayed targeting information from a helicopter.

What goes into a robotic boat? In the ones used in the 2014 test, very little. Their brains consisted of a small, easily produced computer dubbed the Control Architecture for Robotic Agent Command and Sensing, or CARACaS.

“Any boat can be fitted with a kit that allows it to act autonomously and swarm on a potential threat,” Adm. Matthew Klunder, then the head of the Office of Naval Research, said in a press conference.

In 2016, Navy testers followed up with a demonstration that proved the boats could identify threats — no human necessary.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA, followed the Navy’s experiment with a 2015 demonstration of a very different sort of robot boat: a 42-foot self-driving vessel that showed it could conduct autonomous maneuvers while following the Convention on the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea, essentially the naval laws that govern how ships are to behave on the open water. It was part of a program to develop a 132-foot autonomous ship for the high seas, now a Navy program called Sea Hunter.

“We might be able to put a six-pack or a four-pack of missiles on them. Now, imagine 50 of these distributed and operating together under the hands of a flotilla commander,” former Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Work said in April at a CNAS event. “This is going to be a Navy unlike any navy in history, a human-machine collaborative battle fleet that will confound our enemies.”
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[*] posted on 12-11-2018 at 08:54 PM


Airshow China 2018: ZB Intelligence unveils Marine Lizard amphibious combat USV prototype

Kelvin Wong, Zhuhai - Jane's International Defence Review

12 November 2018

Zhongbang Intelligent Technology (ZB Intelligence), a Qingdao-based company specialising in the development of control and navigation systems for unmanned surface vessels (USVs), announced a new amphibious combat USV development called the Marine Lizard at the Airshow China 2018 exhibition in Zhuhai, held from 6–11 November.

The Marine Lizard is primarily designed to be an autonomous and rapidly deployable mobile weapons platform that aids a defending force in repelling coastal and beach assaults, although it can also perform ship-to-shore troop transport and logistical resupply missions if required.


The full-scale prototype hull of the Marine Lizard amphibious combat USV shown to the public for the first time at Airshow China 2018. (IHS Markit/Kelvin Wong)

The prototype Marine Lizard adopts a 13.5 m trimaran hullform and is powered by a hybrid-electric propulsion system that supplies power to the four electrically powered track units installed under each corner of the hull bottom, which enable it to achieve a maximum speed of 20 km/h depending on the terrain. When transitioned to surface operations, the sea vehicle is powered by a pair of rear-mounted waterjets, which offer a stated maximum speed of 50 kt and cruising range of 648 n miles (1,042 km).

Song Ding, vice-president of international business at ZB Intelligence, told Jane's that the Marine Lizard's payload and weapons fit has yet to be finalised, but revealed that it will be capable of carrying a diverse range of electro-optical infrared (EO/IR) and radar sensors, as well as weapons such as heavy machine guns and anti-armour and very short-range air-defence (VSHORAD) missiles.

"We believe that there is significant interest in the domestic and international markets for such platforms in the future as many of our potential customers have long coasts and islands to safeguard," Song said, revealing that the company is already in discussion with several local and regional naval and maritime security forces to schedule demonstrations after its development is complete by late 2019, although he declined to disclose further details.

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[*] posted on 3-12-2018 at 09:13 PM


Aquabotix expands SwarmDiver USV family with stealth systems

Geoff Fein, Washington, DC - Jane's International Defence Review

03 December 2018

Aquabotix has launched three new unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) for defence and commercial applications including covert operations and protection of ships in port.

SwarmDiver Stealth is designed to covertly collect intelligence and transfer data in littoral environments where the waters are continuously monitored by acoustic sensors, electromagnetic spectrum monitoring, and visual detection.

The Stealth model features an exterior coating over a specialty graphic camouflage paint, a low-noise motor, and no visible status lights to enable the USV to reduce the risk of detection, Aquabotix said.


The SwarmDiver Stealth, one of three new Aquabotix micro-USVs, is intended for use in covert reconnaissance and communications operations. (Aquabotix)

Beyond collecting intelligence, the Stealth can be used to securely transfer data between two points without the risk of interception posed by wireless transfer methods.

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[*] posted on 8-12-2018 at 12:20 PM


Elbit Systems Teams with Leonardo to Develop Additional Torpedo Capability for Seagull USV

(Source: Elbit-Leonardo joint release; issued Dec 06, 2018)


Fitting torpedoes to small, unmanned boats like Elbit’s Seagull gives small boat swarms a heavy punch at very low cost, and would allow large numbers of such boats to overwhelm the defenses of large ship formations such as carrier groups. (Elbit photo)

VALPARAISO, Chile --- Adding to the Seagull Unmanned Surface Vessels’ (USV) capability to mount and launch lightweight torpedoes, Elbit Systems ISTAR division has teamed with Leonardo to develop and demonstrate Leonardo’s lightweight and mini torpedoes launching capabilities from the USV. The two companies announced the agreement at Exponaval (Valparaiso, Chile, 4-7 December).

The solution will be based on the same architecture used for airborne torpedo launching systems. Operational with the Israeli Navy, Elbit Systems’ Seagull USV performed superbly in the Belgian Defence Ministry 2017 North Sea trials and has been participating regularly in international naval exercises conducting Mine Counter Measures and Anti-Submarine Warfare missions.

Leonardo holds a strategic market position in the design, production and integration of torpedoes with over 30 Countries having selected its systems.

Elbit Systems Ltd. is an international high technology company engaged in a wide range of defense, homeland security and commercial programs throughout the world. The Company, which includes Elbit Systems and its subsidiaries, operates in the areas of aerospace, land and naval systems, command, control, communications, computers, intelligence surveillance and reconnaissance ("C4ISR"), unmanned aircraft systems, advanced electro-optics, electro-optic space systems, EW suites, signal intelligence systems, data links and communications systems, radios and cyber-based systems.

Leonardo is among the top ten global players in Aerospace, Defence and Security and Italy’s main industrial company. Organised into seven business divisions (Helicopters; Aircraft; Aero-structures; Airborne & Space Systems; Land & Naval Defence Electronics; Defence Systems; Security & Information Systems), Leonardo operates in the most competitive international markets by leveraging its areas of technology and product leadership. Listed on the Milan Stock Exchange (LDO), in 2017 Leonardo recorded consolidated restated revenues of 11.7 billion Euros and has a significant industrial presence in Italy, the UK, the U.S. and Poland.

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[*] posted on 17-1-2019 at 12:19 PM


L3 ASV, Dstl complete autonomous recce missions at ‘Autonomous Warrior’

Richard Scott, London - Jane's Navy International

16 January 2019


MAST-9 was tested as part of ‘Autonomous Warrior 18’. Source: L3 ASV

Autonomous maritime systems house L3 ASV has revealed testing of an experimental unmanned craft fitted out with advanced autonomous navigation as part of the 'Autonomous Warrior 18' showcase event in Jervis Bay, Australia.

Tested in support of the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl), the 9 m Maritime Autonomy Surface Testbed craft, known as MAST-9, was tasked to perform a series of reconnaissance, interdiction, and patrol missions.

Designed and built by L3 ASV, MAST-9 used radar to provide situational awareness, making it possible to detect and avoid other vessels accordingly. The vessel operated in fully autonomous mode, including COLREG-aware collision avoidance, navigating the waterways at speeds of up to 40 kt for over 80 hours, across the two-week event. This aggregated to a distance of 1,380 km covered.

According to L3 ASV, the MAST-9 system completed about 100 tasks commanded from the Maritime Autonomous Platform Exploitation (MAPLE) command-and-control system. MAPLE is a Dstl project designed to demonstrate and de-risk the integration of multiple unmanned systems into future UK Royal Navy combat systems.

"Operational status and payload feedback were communicated to and from MAPLE using ASView, L3 ASV's proprietary autonomous control system," said the company, adding, "Using an optical and infrared camera, MAST-9 demonstrated high-speed inspection capability. The ASView control system allowed the remote mission commanders to track and follow target vessels for interdiction tasks."

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[*] posted on 22-1-2019 at 02:02 PM


M Subs and Thales pursue AI boost for unmanned vessels

Gerrard Cowan, Belfast - Jane's International Defence Review

21 January 2019


Two Thales unmanned surface vessels are pictured entering Plymouth Sound for the first time. Source: Thales

M Subs and Thales UK are developing artificial intelligence (AI) technology that will help unmanned vessels travel independently and negotiate contact with other vessels.

The work is part of a teaming agreement between Thales and M Subs, a manufacturer of commercial and military submersibles that has a heavy focus on the AI space. In January M Subs installed a sensor system with connected machine-learning technology around Plymouth Sound. The system will provide command and control (C2), situational awareness, and support communications for unmanned vessels in the area, where Thales opened a maritime autonomy centre in October 2018.

The companies view the new infrastructure in Plymouth as a research and development (R&D) asset to study the potential of machine learning applications in unmanned vessels, Brett Phaneuf, managing director of M Subs, told Jane's .

Phaneuf noted that Plymouth Sound serves as "a big, natural laboratory" to study several aspects of AI in unmanned vessels, with access to the C2 infrastructure to control the vehicle, as well as the technology to monitor both manned and unmanned vessels operating in the common water space.

The data gathered in Plymouth Sound - showing how AI-enabled unmanned vessels interact with other ships, for instance - will then be analysed using machine learning techniques, and used to build more sophisticated AI in areas such as navigation.

The plan has several dimensions, such as teaching the AI on board the vessels to recognise and understand information from radar, infrared, and optical data to Automated Information Systems (AIS), "right down to learning what a specific ship might be and how it might move and interact in a space", Phaneuf said. The infrastructure enables the companies to test how AI could work in various scenarios, he added.

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