Video Above: Navy Connects Air, Surface, Underseas Drones
The Navy’s new Ford-class carriers, America-class amphibious assault ships, submarines and destroyers are all visible and highly praised for their technological sophistication and performance parameters, in large measure due to innovations from the service and its industry partners.
Huntington Ingalls Industries, for example, is widely known for its work on carriers, amphibs and submarines, yet there is an interesting and lesser recognized component to HII work lingering beneath the radar. The firm has been engineering and delivering underwater drones to the Navy for many years now and performed the first ever submarine-launched undersea drone as far back as 2015.
REMUS Undersea Drone
One such program, for instance, is HII’s REMUS undersea drone which was the first UUV in history to be launched from a submarine in history.
“In 2015, the U.S. Navy launched a REMUS 600 from a dry deck shelter of a Virginia-class submarine – this was the first UUV in history to be launched from a submarine,” Duane Fotheringham, president of unmanned systems for HII’s Technical Solutions division, told Warrior in a written statement.
In subsequent years, the Navy has launched several undersea drones from submarines, including some from submarine missile tubes. The REMUS drone class, which has been in existence for 20 years, to include the REMUS 100, REMUS 300, REMUS 600 and large REMUS 6000.
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Variants of the REMUS now support several Navy programs, to inlcude the MK18 for mine countermeasure operations and LBS-AUV for collection of oceanographic data.
REMUS can explore hazardous areas autonomously, collecting valuable data for applications including mine countermeasures, area search, marine research, hydrographic survey and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, Fotheringham said.
Drones, Unmanned Systems & AI-Enabled Networking
These programs are significant given the Navy’s current explosive growth in the area of drones, unmanned systems and AI-enabled networking. The service is currently pursuing a wide range of unmanned systems to include small, medium, large and extra-large undersea drones, surface unmanned vessels and air assets as well. Most of all, the Navy is fast making progress to network all of them together.
“One of the things that I'll talk about that's really developed over the last couple of years, and, and significantly recently, is the Navy's strategy towards unmanned systems. So you can trace this all back to the national defense strategy of 2018. And everything stems from there that's well known and established. But even back in 2018, the NDS was talking about the need for autonomous systems to gain competitive military advantages,” Capt. Pete Small, Program Manager for Unmanned Combat Systems, Naval Sea Systems Command, told an audience at the 2022 Navy Surface Warfare Association Symposium.
Kris Osborn is the defense editor for the National Interest and President of Warrior Maven - the Center for Military Modernization. Osborn previously served at the Pentagon as a Highly Qualified Expert with the Office of the Assistant Secretary of the Army—Acquisition, Logistics & Technology. Osborn has also worked as an anchor and on-air military specialist at national TV networks. He has appeared as a guest military expert on Fox News, MSNBC, The Military Channel, and The History Channel. He also has a Masters Degree in Comparative Literature from Columbia University.