Textron Systems Advanced Systems, an operating unit of Textron Systems, a Textron Inc. company, has announced that its Fleet-class Common Unmanned Surface Vessels (CUSV) successfully demonstrated the ability to conduct collaborative unmanned mine-hunting and mine-neutralization operations during the Trident Warrior 2012 U.S. Navy Fleet Experiment, July 9–20, at Marine Corps Base Camp Pendleton.
The CUSV team executed real-time, mine warfare detect-to-engage scenarios on six separate occasions, during which two CUSVs controlled by one operator from a single control station detected and prosecuted “exercise” mines in a minefield laid by the U.S. Navy.
In these scenarios one CUSV, utilizing the U.S. Navy’s tactical decision aid – called MEDAL – developed by SAIC, moved into the mine danger area and autonomously deployed an L-3 Klein 5000 V2 Side Scan Sonar to mine hunt the suspected minefield. Mine hunting was successfully conducted during both day and night operations and in challenging sea state conditions. The CUSVs were outfitted with Harris SeaLancetTMRT-1944/U data links, which relayed all sonar and vehicle control information to a shore-based AAI Universal Command & Control Station (UCCS). When a mine-like object was detected and plotted on the UCCS geographical screen, the position information was sent to a second CUSV. The second CUSV then maneuvered into the mine danger area. Once appropriately positioned, it deployed both a tracking transducer and an ATLAS North America SeaFoxTMunmanned vehicle for investigation, identification and simulated mine neutralization.
“During Trident Warrior 2012 our CUSV demonstrated a faster, more efficient, more effective and, most importantly, a much safer way of conducting the difficult task of mine countermeasure operations,” said Textron Systems Advanced Systems Senior Vice President and General Manager Don Hairston. “The ability to execute the mine warfare detect-to-engage sequence from unmanned vessels reduces risk and lessens the requirement for men in the minefield. Moving forward, this is a real game changer.”
Trident Warrior is directed by Navy Warfare Development Command (NWDC), and was sponsored this year by the U.S. Pacific Fleet and U.S. 3rdFleet in conjunction with the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2012 exercise. Trident Warrior is part of NWDC’s Fleet experimentation program, during which participants experiment with maritime initiatives and technologies in an operational environment to improve capabilities available to the fleet.
With the conclusion of Trident Warrior 2012, Textron Systems’ CUSV has amassed more than 1,000 total hours of in-water operation. CUSV also took part in Trident Warrior 2011, where it successfully demonstrated sliding autonomy, enabling autonomous and man-in-the-loop vessel operations, and non-lethal weapon common payload command and control.
CUSV is a multi-mission and multi-payload capable Unmanned Surface Vessel featuring commercial off-the-shelf modular open architecture, a reconfigurable payload bay, and high tow force capability. Its maritime command and control system is based upon AAI Unmanned Aircraft Systems’ combat-proven One System®architecture. CUSV users have the freedom to quickly deploy any payload necessary to satisfy mission requirements including towing, mine countermeasures, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, communications relay, launch and recovery for unmanned aircraft, underwater systems, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.