Submarines: UAVs That Start Underwater

Archives

April 22, 2016: After more than a decade of effort the U.S. Navy has finally found a submarine launched UAV it wants to use. The Blackwing is stored and launched from a 75mm diameter canister that fits the launcher used for acoustic countermeasures devices (noisemakers that cause torpedoes to miss the sub). Blackwing would be used for finding and identifying distant targets. Blackwing is also equipped to be a communications relay. The UAV communicates with the sub via the OE-538 communications mast (a periscope type device the pokes out of the water while the sub is still submerged. The navy is buying 150 Blackwings initially.

Blackwing is not the first UAV designed for submarine launcher. The navy has been working on this sort of thing for over a decade. Back in 2006 the navy seriously considered a modified version of the recently introduced ScanEagle UAV for submarine use. This would be done by storing a ScanEagle in a canister that would be launched from one of the 533mm (21 inch) torpedo tubes. ScanEagle weighs 19 kg (40 pounds), has a 3.2 meter (ten foot) wingspan, and uses day and night video cameras. On ships it uses a catapult for launch and is landed via a wing hook that catches a rope hanging from a 16 meter (fifty foot) pole. The ScanEagle can stay in the air for up to 24 hours per flight and fly as high as 6,100 meters (19,500 feet). ScanEagles’ cruising speed is 110 kilometers an hour and can operate over a hundred kilometers from the ground controller. Scan Eagle carries an optical system that is stabilized to keep the cameras focused on an object while the UAV moves. ScanEagle has been in military service since 2005 and was used by civilian operators for several years before that. There were too many problems (and it was too expensive) to modify ScanEagle for launch via a torpedo tube. It might have worked in theory but the navy decided to wait for better UAV technology to show up and Blackwing appears to be it.

 


Article Archive

Submarines: Current 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 


X

ad
0
20

Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close