DARPA's New Autonomous Submarine-Hunter Could Change Naval Combat Forever

DARPA's New Autonomous Submarine-Hunter Could Change Naval Combat Forever

In 2010, DARPA announced it was creating an autonomous, submarine-hunting war machine that would be manned with exactly zero people. Now, that vehicle is ready for action. The Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel, or ACTUV, is now scheduled to be launched April 17 from the Vigour Shipyards in Oregon. The ACTUV will continue sea-trials for 18 months following its maiden voyage, where it will be tested for its long-range tracking and self-driving functions.

The primary objective of the ACTUV will be to track enemy submarines in shallow waters. The ship is designed to operate autonomously for 60 to 90 days straight, eliminating the hundreds of crew members it typically takes to operate these type of vehicles. The ACTUV also reduces the chance for human error while searching for potential threats.

In addition to locating spying submarines, the ship could also have a role in supplying other US naval vehicles and running logistics in operations. At just 140 tonnes and 40m long, the ACTUV is actually small for a warship, and the US naval forces will likely make use of its nimble TK.

The ACTUV itself is unarmed, but as a scouting vehicle, the ship can be used to locate spying adversaries before other ships are deployed. The ACTUV is pretty cheap to operate, too. The cost of running one per day is between $US15,000 and $US20,000, according to a Sea Magazine report.

The ship is part of the Pentagon's ongoing Third Offset strategy, which was devised to help the US maintain superiority over rising military powers like China and Russia. The Pentagon is dedicating $US18 billion to the effort.

[DARPA via The Next Web]

Image: DARPA



    I'll be expecting a Chinese knock-off (based on blueprints they got through hacking the Pentagon) in the next few years.

    China and Russia should make unmanned dummy submarines to screw with these submarine hunters. It would also put an extra financial burden on the US sending out war ships to check to see if they're real or not. If you're going to screw with the US, you might as well force the US to spend big on military hardware by having dummy submarines all over the ocean to screw with them. If china and Russia play it smart, they could force the US into bankruptcy. The best and safest war is a financial war.

    Anyone know maritime law regarding abandoned (i.e unmanned) ships in international waters?
    I'm trying to work out if these might be considered legitimate target practice.

    Well, they always under report any military system at this stage. This is a prototype not even ordered by the Navy. They are just "looking at it" right now and pondering possibilities. But even if Russia/China/Anybody had the technology and $$$$ to run "dummy" submarines, this thing would linked to satellites, awacs, AND armed drones not to mention (oh yea) every US Navy ship on the water. It would be a flagged US Military vessel and could probably follow 50 "dummy" submarines simultaneously. This thing could sync up with 4 or 5 armed drones that now fly for literally weeks with solar batteries and be lethal defense for thousands of square miles of water with minimal supervision if required. So now you have naval AWACS system.

    Good question but I think it could not be "abandoned" even if on "auto-pilot" it would be monitored and subject to direct control by remote operator. Due to it's size, one would assume this is for close in Coastal type monitoring anyway....even mentions shallow water capabilities.......of course could and I suppose would be adapted to military wants/needs anywhere in the world and be launched from any battleship or cruiser.......

    I would suppose it wouldn't take much to incorporate a phalanx system onto it, so try and claim "salvage rights" then. Since it is prototype, it could certainly lead to 1 that could submerge 30 meters or so to ride out storms or stay out of sight and be very hard to locate during the day. It is definitely impressive and ahead of the curve.

    Technology breeds anti-technology. Always has, always will, so yea, Russia and China will follow (key word) like they always do.

    These autonomous subs are notorious for getting lost and disappearing. Perhaps the military can make them work but I would not be surprised if it is more hype than real.

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