By Kalwinder Kaur
US military scientists are developing an unmanned submarine that can hang around underwater for several months to track the presence of enemy submarines.
Image copyright DARPA
DARPA, the US Defense Advanced Research and Projects Agency, awarded a contract to the Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) to develop the design, which is meant for the products of the ASW (Anti-Submarine Warfare) ACTUV (Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel) program to offset the diesel-electric submarines, which are a potential risk to the US Navy and its global allies.
SAIC is engaged in Phases 2, 3 and 4 of the ACTUV submarine program to design, develop, and conduct sea trials of an unmanned vessel that is capable of tracking diesel electric submarines, covering thousands of kilometers of sea with reduced man power. Particularly, Phase 2 is the ‘Design a vessel' stage and Phase 3 is the ‘Build a vessel' stage, while Phase 3 is the ‘Test a vessel' stage. Phase 1, which dealt with the refinement and validation of the system concept, is already completed.
If successful, the ACTUV submarine program will deliver a superior technology to the US Navy and reduce the navy’s manpower expenses in addition to other benefits. Operational unmanned submarine sea trials are slated to commence between the second quarter and third quarter of 2015.
DARPA's ACTUV program manager, Scott Littlefield stated that the vessel will feature robust autonomy ensuring safe operations according to maritime laws, advanced software, and advanced sensors to constantly track enemy submarines. In addition, the program creates foundational technologies for upcoming unmanned naval systems.