The U.S. Navy on Thursday held a solemn ceremony of launching the ship of a new type of unmanned trimaran (boat with three interconnected buildings), is capable to be in Autonomous sailing for several months. The prototype vehicle, named “Sea hunter”, was developed by Agency for defense advanced research projects USA (DARPA) under the ACTUV program (Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel).
The project started in 2010. The reason for the development of the drone has been a rapid development of airindependent (anaerobic) power plants that allow submarines to continuously be under water for more than a month and cause hidden strikes on the carriers with the most advanced anti-submarine defense.
“To distinguish the quiet hum of diesel-electric submarines in the coastal waters with heavy shipping is to try to select the engine noise of one vehicle in the hustle of the city”, — explained the head of the command anti-submarine operations the Navy rear Admiral Frank Drennan. In order to detect the submarine need intelligence. “Sea hunter” – is the scout is not equipped with any weapons. It can be useful for coast guards, search of submarines and support ships. “The ship goes to sea, finds diesel-electric submarine and hovers over her, Recalling their presence pulse sonar”, — described the principle of operation of a scout Drennan. Find the enemy submarine, it transmits its coordinates via satellite communication to the nearest base or destroyer Navy. If necessary he can accompany the submarine.
Find low noise diesel-electric submarines “Sea hunter” by modern sonars and magnetometers. In the future it is planned to install the radars of several types, the electronic warfare station, powerful hydroacoustic complex optical-electronic system for round-the-clock monitoring of the sea surface. Finally, it will be equipped with a system that allows you to automatically determine the type of the detected submarine.
“The turning point”
A 40-meter trimaran, made of composite materials based on carbon, capable of continuous cruising on the ocean surface for two to three months without a team and remote management, and to reach the speed of 27 nautical miles per hour. It is anticipated that it will operate as an Autonomous patrol of the coast guard or in the composition of the ASW division of carrier strike group the U.S. Navy.
“This is a turning point, said Reuters, Deputy Minister of defense Robert Work, the First time we have a fully robotic transatlantic ship”.
“Sea hunter” will go through two tests, the results of which will be decided on mass production. Now the ship is in the area of Swan island in Portland (Oregon). The workshop expects that once the ship will found to comply with the safety requirements, it goes based off the coast of Japan 7-th military U.S. Navy to continue testing.
An unmanned experimental military ship “Sea hunter”
Photo: Global Look Press
In the future the “Sea hunters” will accompany the carrier strike group, keeping under constant surveillance of thousands of square miles of underwater area around the carriers, and to transmit data to ships and aircraft equipped with anti-submarine weapons. They also will walk in a single voyage to hunt down enemy submarines.
The workshop hoped that these ships will begin cruising in the Western Pacific and Persian Gulf in the next five years, and will participate in a variety of missions including anti-mine operations; in all cases, with limited human involvement.
Against Russia and China
The Pentagon has openly stated that the “Sea hunter” was developed as a response to the build-up of Russia and China’s naval capacity. Russia is now engaged in the development of the submarine 5th generation. In August 2015 an unnamed high-ranking representative of the Navy reported to RIA “Novosti” that the newest non-nuclear submarine “Kalina” of the fifth generation from the anaerobic energy system will be built after 2020. But two months later Deputy Navy commander Vice-Admiral Victor bursuc on air of TV channel “Russia-24” said that the Navy will receive the first diesel-electric submarine to the end of 2020. In March 2016 the capital on the air of “echo of Moscow” said that the first anaerobic power plant can obtain diesel submarines of project “Lada”.
Washington is also concerned about the increase of Chinese investment into a military program and the expansion of the submarine fleet of China, which makes vulnerable to American carrier strike groups and submarines, providing the U.S. military superiority in the Western Pacific ocean.
“We’re not working on anti-submarine technology because we believe that it’s cool. We’re working on it, as deeply concerned about the progress made in this area China and Russia”, — said Reuters an expert in the field of military robotics research center “New America Foundation” Peter singer.
Long Autonomous operation “Sea hunter” can not only make the ship an effective tool for detecting low-noise submarines, but also will save on marine exploration. The construction of the “Sea hunter” is estimated at $20 million, daily maintenance — $20 thousand According to rear Admiral Drennan, it’s cheaper than the “expensive to send nuclear submarines in an attempt to detect diesel-electric submarine that is happening now.” “Sea hunter” is cheaper, so it is possible to significantly increase the number of such devices and increase the likelihood of injury or detection of an enemy submarine,” — said the expert of the Center for analysis of strategies and technologies Andrey Frolov.
The Pentagon promises that Autonomous ships of the “Sea hunter” will never make independent decisions about the use of force. At the launch ceremony in Portland, the Workshop stressed that even if the United States ever will be equipped with naval drones, such as “Sea hunter”, a weapon, any decision about the use of fire will be made by the person. “There is no cause for concern in relation to such ships as this one” — he stressed.