Posted by: The ocean update | June 29, 2015

New US Ghost Ship to Trace Russian, Chinese, Iranian Diesel-Electric Subs

© ACTUV

© ACTUV

June 29th, 2015. The US Navy and DARPA are developing a new anti-submarine drone aimed at tracking elusive diesel-electric submarines made by Russia and China, a US military expert revealed.According to US expert in civil-military relations and cyber diplomacy Franz-Stefan Gady, Russian, Chinese and Iranian diesel-electric submarines have long been a thorn in the US Navy’s side, since they are more elusive than their nuclear counterparts and are harder to track and destroy in the event of a naval clash.

“Equipped with air-independent propulsion systems and advanced lithium-ion batteries, the next generation of diesel-electric boats will even be harder to track down and destroy in the event of a naval conflict,” he elaborated.

In order to counter this “asymmetrical threat” the US military and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) kicked off a project aimed at designing a US Navy robot ship capable of tracking enemy diesel-electric subs.

The Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) will be reportedly able to operate autonomously up to 90 days. Once an adversary submarine is detected, the 132-foot autonomous boat will guide other US military vessels to the sub’s location to destroy it.

The military expert revealed that the ACTUV prototype dubbed “Sea Hunter” will be ready for extensive tests in the fall of 2015.

“Autonomous compliance with maritime laws requires the correct identification of surface ships and other objects while at sea. DARPA is in the process of developing non-conventional sensor technologies for that purpose and issued a Request for Information (RFI) back in March 2015,” he elaborated.

The test boat was able to tail a target boat at 1 kilometer's distance, something military bosses say is a major step forward.

The test boat was able to tail a target boat at 1 kilometer’s distance, something military bosses say is a major step forward.

More information (source) : Price tags ranging from $200-$300 million put diesel-electric subs within reach of smaller, volatile countries.

Russia has been selling diesel-electric subs to buoy its shipyards, triggering what some are calling an undersea arms race.

Reportedly, Algeria has ordered two, Venezuela is expecting five, and Indonesia will have six subs by 2020. Iran claims to have a fleet of 17 diesel-electric subs.

The technology (source) : Navigation will be performed using a combination of artificial intelligence and on board sensors, which include electro-optics, long-range and short-range radar, and LIDAR (Light Detection And Ranging). A set of underwater sensors provides long-range detection of submarines while reducing false positives. Once the ACTUV has closed in on its target, it uses a pair of high-frequency active sonars with overlapping coverage to improve its tracking and precision, while a total field magnetometer array provides additional information of the target’s activities. At close range, it will be able to determine the submarine’s make and model by taking an acoustic image with a very high-frequency sonar.

Other source (link) : Such automated frigates would replace the manned ships or submarines normally tasked with shadowing foreign submarines. But the Anti-submarine warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) would use active sonar to loudly ping the ocean depths and pick up on the echoes from submarines, rather than opt for the stealthier approach of a manned vessel.

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