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Sky Eyes for Submarines

December 4, 2008
By H. Mosher

Future U.S. Navy submarines will be able to obtain a better operational picture by launching their own unmanned aerial systems (UASs). A recent test by the Naval Undersea Warfare Center, Newport, Rhode Island, demonstrated that a submerged vessel can deploy a UAS at sea.

The demonstration simulated the submarine launch of a specialized UAS to collect intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance data in a littoral environment. During the demonstration, two launch vehicles were deployed over the side of a surface ship. The vehicles descended to 80 feet and then surfaced. Once on the surface, the craft stabilized themselves in variable sea states, aligned into the wind and then launched a dummy UAS.

The test, which took place at the Narragansett Bay Shallow Water Test Facility Range, Rhode Island, is part of the Navy's Submarine Over the Horizon Organic Capabilities (SOTHOC) program. Future SOTHOC tests will deploy a UAS from a submerged submarine to evaluate its performance in a maritime interdiction mission. The UAS and its deployable launch vehicle are designed and manufactured by the Raytheon Company.

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