Navy Eyes Unmanned Vehicles for Dangerous Missions
Textron Land and Marine System has successfully demonstrated its Custom Unmanned Surface Vessel, which it aims to sell to the US Navy to perform risky missions like minesweeping and approaching enemy sea vessels. (Source: Textron)
That is is nice test in calm water. It's much more impressive if you have a crew on board in rough seas.
If you check the other videos, you will see some of the boat handling training in rough water with 4 or 5 crew members onboard. I recall a show on Discovery Channel or History Channel that showed a boat roll over and right itself in the rough conditions while doing training. The crew was 'strapped in' for their safety and survival.
I'm surprised that they appear to be aiming at full-sized versions of existing ships (39' in this case). The Air Force, on the other hand seems to be concentrating their efforts on drones that are substantially smaller than the manned version. Is there a reason for this?
The advantage I see here is that the Navy can complement their other efforts with these type of devices. For example, the current push is to get away from the massive battleship size and focus on the newer littoral combat ships, which allow action much closer to land and up smaller rivers. It seems that, properly scaled, these could enhance those capabilities in the same way the drones have done for the Air Force.
I believe in the Navy's mind the functionality and usefulness of the platform is going to depend heavily on what existing weapons packages it can deliver -- almost all of which are less-feasibly deployed on any platform which is significantly smaller. Any approach which reduces the procurement cycle time to achieve weapons on the water (WITHOUT locking us into an early-obsolescence cycle) has a positive design criteria satisfaction gradient -- and iterating toward smaller special purpose platforms is STILL feasible.
I'm still anticipating the RP-jetski with various alternative load packages of torpedo and drone launchers, and probably a range of warhead delivery options.
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