The U.S. Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) with funding from SwampWorks at the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Department of Defense Rapid Reaction Technology Office (DoD/RRTO) demonstrated the launch of an all-electric, fuel cell-powered drone from a submerged submarine. From concept to fleet demonstration, this idea took less than six years to produce results at significant cost savings when compared to traditional programs often taking decades to produce results.
The successful submerged launch of a remotely deployed UAS offers a pathway to providing mission critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities to the U.S. Navy’s submarine force.
Operating under support of the Los Angeles class USS Providence (SSN 719) and the Naval Undersea Warfare Center-Newport Division (NUWC-NPT), the NRL developed XFC UAS—eXperimental Fuel Cell Unmanned Aerial System—was fired from the submarine’s torpedo tube using a ‘Sea Robin’ launch vehicle system. The Sea Robin launch system was designed to fit within an empty Tomahawk launch canister (TLC) used for launching Tomahawk cruise missiles already familiar to submarine sailors.
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by Tactical-Life / Dec 6, 2013