The United States Navy is planning to deploy underwater drones sometime within the next four years. The underwater drone squadron will include a Large Displacement Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (LDUUV) and a yellow submarine drone.
The news was reported by Navy Secretary Ray Mabus on Tuesday at the AUVSI Unmanned Systems Defense Conference of 2015.
At the current time, it is unknown what exactly the Navy plans to do with the LDUUV. There is speculation that it will be used to increase the abilities of submarines in terms of intelligence gathering, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities.
According to Mabus, the LDUUV will be able to operate with minimal human intervention in critical areas that are close to enemies. The LDUUV can currently only survive underwater for 30 days, but the Navy hopes to eventually stretch this time period to that of several years.
Mabus said, “These systems are affordable and rapidly deployable worldwide. They’ve already been operational and served as critical enablers and game-changers for mine-hunting missions, such as those that will be conducted aboard (littoral combat ship). We plan to deploy LDUUV from an exclusively UUV squadron on an independent mission by 2020.”
However, other Navy officials have tried to lessen expectations.
One unnamed Navy official said, “Right now, it’s just an empty platform with some innovative power production things that will help increase its endurance.”
Recently, defense specialists in the United States have been concerned about activity from Russian submarines near critical undersea communication cables. These submarines might be able to discourage wrongdoings from Russia.
Meanwhile, the yellow submarine drone was revealed by the Chief of Navy Research Rear Admiral Mat Winter last April. Winter says that the underwater drone was developed because of the Navy’s need for submersible unmanned vehicle that can remain underwater for years at a time.
Winter said, “I am continuously amazed with the underwater breakthrough technologies in power, power generation, and navigation and sense and avoid. When people say, ‘I can’t see that happening. There’s no way that can be,’ I say, ‘Excellent! Put that on ONR’s (Office of Naval Research) list.’”
With innovations like these, it’s hard for Navy officials not to be excited.