US Navy Developing Submarine-Launched Drones

These drones include both aerial and surface craft intended for clandestine operations:

* Sea Stalker, a torpedo-size underwater robot that specializes in snooping on radio signals and other communications. “The [concept] is to launch these from submarines at night,” Kenny said. “They will transit to offshore, anchor, put their antennas out and begin collection. Ideally you would have a series of these … to cover different ports or hotbeds of terrorist activity. And then you would collate that information on board the ship.”

* Scan Eagle, the 45-pound aerial bot that has seen heavy use by the Marines in Iraq and Afghanistan. Kenny says Special Operations Command is looking at boosting Scan Eagle with extra fuel and sensors — and maybe even weapons, like the Air Force’s armed Predators and Reapers. It seems Scan Eagle is launched from a sub’s deck while she is surfaced, but that could change. “We’re looking at launch and recovery from an SSGN payload tube to allow clandestine close-in operations,” Kenny said.

* BUSTER, a 15-pound UAV that Kenny says is particularly useful when working with foreign armies. “We’ve … done some very successful operations with allies, doing foreign internal defense, training them to operate this vehicle.” The allied armies launch BUSTER from land, while the submarine “pull[s] in the full motion video and the infrared, correlate[s] it and fuse[s] it in our battle management centers on board.”

The picture above is of the Sea Stalker. [Correction on 8.3.09: It's the Sea Stalker by General Dynamics and is unmanned, but is a surface, rather than subsurface craft. Thanks, AeroNut!]


Previously on Neatorama: The Navy's Armed Sea-Bots

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Oh hey John, in an effort to be helpful I did some web digging... General Dynamics Robotic Systems does indeed call that pictured vessel the "SeaStalker USV"... but according to their literature it's an unmanned surface vessel.

You can check out their brochure here:

I'm gonna take a SWAG that the unmanned torpedo-sized thing is actually in the works (I work on UAVs, and all kinds of goofy stuff is in the works), but folks have mistakenly applied the name SeaStalker to it.

Hope this is helpful!
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Technical quibble: either that photo is not the SeaStalker, or the text description is inaccurate. The text describes the SeaStalker as torpedo-sized, underwater, for ELINT and comms. The photo is a surface craft that's a heckuva lot bigger than a torpedo (maybe comparable in length, but it's got a lot more girth, and there's no way it's sub-launched), and judging by the mounted gun turret, it does more than radio/comms/ELINT surveillance. Some clarification of what exactly is pictured, or a correction of the text (or both) would be greatly appreciated.
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