Subscribe
Notify of
guest
25 Comments
Oldest
Newest
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
Camy

So it wasn’t the larger Moray then, Supose the RN have to start somewhere and bigger isn’t always better in that area.

Ron5

Is it credible to call the under flight deck space in a Type 31, a mission bay? I think Babcock’s just describes the space as somewhere containers may be transported which is not the same thing.

R.K.

As the USV is 9m length, could it be deployed from one of the Type 31 boat bays?

Bobby big nuts

Yes no doubt

Steve

I am curious what capability this actually brings.

It can’t really be used for sub hunting as it wouldn’t have a payload to do anything about it, and by the time it has surfaced to send the details to the mothership and the mothership has responded, the target would have moved and it would be too late.

The only thing i can see it being useful for is sitting off a coast, and listening to radio chatter.

It doesn’t feel ike a game changer, but i assume i am missing something.

Steve Taylor

What makes a submarine work is its crew. You can talk to a UAV easily, you can’t talk a USV easily.

Steve Taylor

I like how facts are down voted on this site.

Dern

Shocker look who is winging about the voting system again.

T.S

Steve, thisnis just a test bed to establish what we can actually do with them operationally. Once we have matured the technologies we will develop towards something like the moray which could house a few torpedoes for war time. However, I see these being primarily used to patrol our waters and act as a trip wire, and to sent from a mothership into hostile waters to gather Intel. It will probably be some time before we launch weapons from them in anger but we have started the first step of the journey. Once weaponized and they become faster and have greater duration, I would also expect to see them hunting in packs or our SSNs and CASD deploying with several of these alongside protecting them on critical missions. Critical transit routes will be able to be closed off in war time with a number of these just sat at the bottom of the ocean waiting and watching ready to fire if required. Many many uses and a really exciting potential once fully matured in my opinion. Their use will be limited for the first few years but expect them to be vital in years to come and we must get ahead of the curve.

Paddy D

TS – it’s almost like you work for MSubs! This is very much an R&D model – repurposing a previously manned platform to explore the art of the possible both in terms of sensor fit and useful autonomy. Finding the balance between cheap, reliable and expendable on one side, and complex and expensive on the other is but one issue we are wrestling with. We don’t even need to worry too much about weaponizing these systems just yet. Notwithstanding the ethics, dealing with the physics of ballasting a small boat after releasing any payload is a challenge and very quickly ratchets up cost and complexity. Finding the hostile submarine is the challenging aspect of ASW; the subsequent weapon release is relatively straightforward and given the complexities of Water Space Management is best left in human hands for now. With increase in battery and fuel cell technology and the daily advances in autonomy, putting a capable XL UUV to sea to conduct what the US refers to as seabed warfare (ISR, ASW MCM and protection of subsurface Critical National Infrastructure (CNI))

DaveyB

Legally speaking you must have a man in the loop when using robotic weapon systems, i.e. drones etc. Not sure how mines get round this though?

Communications through the water is still a major hurdle. You can use acoustic communications, but this announces you presence to anyone listening. It also has a limited bandwidth, so data transfer is constricted. Granted radio waves can pass through water, but tend to be very long wavelengths. Because of these long wavelengths, the bandwidth is very low, thus making the transfer of data incredibly slow.

There have been recent developments with lasers. In the ocean, laser beams are hampered by significant absorption and scattering, which restrict both the distance the beam can travel and the data signalling rate. To address these problems, NASA and a number of other universities/organisations are developing narrow-beam optical communications that use a beam from one underwater vehicle pointed precisely at the receive terminal of a second underwater vehicle. The obvious problem is that both sea vehicles will be moving and require to know where the other is at any given time. So far it has been demonstrated that lasers operating in the ultra violet to blue part (450nm seems to be a favourite) of the light spectrum can transmit underwater, but not at massive distances. So far the lab distances are relatively small, as in 12 to 50m for example. They have said it can be scaled up to transmit with clarity to around 1.5km. But to extend the range more is a massive challenge. One of the key issues is the turbidity of the water, i.e. how clear it is. Depending on how clear the water is will determine the required laser frequency. MIT have shown that they can tune a laser on the fly to compensate for turbidity.

Underwater lasers have shown data handling of around 30Gb/s, which should be enough for near real time analysing. The point to point method could also be used for a identification friend or foe system. As the lasers sweep over each vehicle, searching for the receiver to latch on to, i.e. no receiver = not a friend. The technology is now there, it just needs developing further to a production standard. If the range can be extended this will be when the UUV becomes a game changer. Otherwise if its operating at a distance from the mothership for example, it will have to rely on releasing a cable operated buoy to the surface and doing quick burst data transmissions at predetermined times or if it finds a target of interest.

Steve

I guess you could have a small relay that is on the surface that pickes up the laser signal and passes it to a sat or mothership that is further than the few hundred meters that the laser can travel and still give the UAV a bit of space should the relay get discovered.

DaveyB

Yes, that’s possibly doable, but how does the relay follow the UUV? Underwater warfare is not my field, so I’m not sure how noisy having a cable and buoy permanently deployed would be? However, data could then be relayed via satellite using a Link-16 style data-link, but that would necessitate an omni-directional antenna, which can then be detected by anyone nearby, which isn’t great for stealth.

The trial of the UUV will need to solve a lot of problems to make the concept not only doable but also practical for operations. Communications between the UUV and its controller not withstanding, making sure it doesn’t stray into a drift net, or hit another vessel are some of the other problems they will need to resolve before it can be used for its intended role. It will be a very interesting trial and hopefully it will develop the practical use of UUVs, as we definitely need them.

D J

I would suggest the relay does not follow. It self destructs after a period on no communications & a new one launched. This would require it to be cheap & cheerful. But it it’s purely a relay, it may be possible.

Iqbal

I wonder how much gear like goggles, masks, gloves and aprons the NHS to save lives could have bought for the cost of this underwater tech demonstrator?

What’s more important, the lives of our citizens or taking cold war style confrontations into the deep sea?

This country needs a fundamental shift in priorities instead of trying to keep up with the Jones. We are not an America or China and full spectrum participation, never mind dominance is clearly beyond us in every the military field eg. deep underwater.

Dan

The coronavirus pandemic won’t be around forever, but once it is under control, there will still be the threat of Russian submarines to deal with. The Russians appear to be investing heavily in new submarines, which means we need to have a credible ASW capability, especially as we are an island nation where most goods from other countries arrive by ship.

Dern

Iqbal just loves to argue that the MoD shouldn’t exist, and if he can’t have that have it reduced as much as possible. Anything that weakens the UK is good in his book (no prizes for working out who he works for).

Iqbal

And who do I work for Dern? Don’t be coy now.

This crisis has been an eye opener for how resources have been misallocated for decades in this country. After thousands dead, poor planning and fracas over provision of personal protection equipment to NHS staff, that has lead to dead Doctors and nurses, we can never go back to how it was before. We need rational ways to distribute resources. Nobody is calling for scrapping our forces.

As for the so called Russian ‘threat’, the people of this country don’t believe it. Hence, the reason no political party has been willing to substantially increase defence expenditure. And nurses with the effects of Covid-19 on our people, society and economic dislocation , it’s likely that the defence budget will have to stretch to cover our response, just as it covers pension payments, Trident etc now. That’s just common sense. All govt departments need to adapt to dealing with Covid-19.

If the Russians couldn’t invade the UK when they were the big bad USSR, they won’t now that they are a shadow of their former power, with a declining economy and gangsters in charge.

The Russian navy can have as many hulls as you like to count but their ability to maintain, upgrade and repair equipment and train personnel is suspect at best. Their sole carrier, for example, has to be escorted by a repair ship at all times because it breaks down every few hundred miles! Conscripts forced to serve will seldom be well trained or wish to die for the motherland! Most want to emigrate to the West! Lol

Dern

Yawn, oh what Iqbal protesting his innocence? Maybe when you have something to say that’s not overtly anti-uk and anti-navy I’ll listen to what you say.

Dern

Told you the stooge was wants the MOD gone.

Duker

The original announcement about the much larger autonomous submarine cant have been a mis-statement by the First Sea Lord,
“Plymouth-based MSubs Ltd are to provide the senior service with a 30-metre underwater vehicle, which has a range of up to 3,000 nautical miles.”
https://www.royalnavy.mod.uk/news-and-latest-activity/news/2020/march/05/200305-1sl-conference-underwater-warfare

30m is about twice the length of the WW2 S class ( 202ft 640 tons surfaced)

https://msubs.com/unmanned-submersibles/moray/

DaveyB

Looking at their site, the Moray seems to be very slow?