U.S. Navy Demonstrates Cross-Domain Unmanned Systems Communication

By Mike Ball / 08 Sep 2016

AeroVironment Blackwing UAV

The U.S. Navy has announced that its Naval Undersea Warfare Center has successfully demonstrated the use of its submarine-launched Blackwing UAV to link with a swarm of unmanned undersea vehicles and communicate with the submarine combat control system during the Annual Naval Technology Exercise (ANTX).

Along with providing a new and unique intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability to submarine commanders, the Blackwing UAV can also provide high-speed data and communication relay for Command and Control (C2) between geographically separated vessels such as manned submarines, unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs) and surface ships. Deployed UUVs collect large quantities of data while conducting diverse missions ranging from mine-hunting to wide-area oceanographic sensing. During the ANTX exercise, an AeroVironment developed, government-owned, secure digital datalink called DDLTM, integrated into all Blackwing UAVs, relayed real-time information from the surrogate manned submarine via the Blackwing UAV to and from multiple UUVs.

Blackwing builds on AeroVironment’s extensive development and operational experience with its Switchblade Lethal Miniature Aerial Missile System (LMAMS) and its common DDL to provide the Navy with a deployable submarine launched unmanned aircraft vehicle optimized for distributed Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) environments.

“Our Naval Undersea Warfare Center partners seek solutions for quickly and seamlessly linking the air and undersea domains to enhance warfighter capability. We successfully demonstrated the innovative utility of AeroVironment’s new Blackwing unmanned air vehicle,” said Kirk Flittie, AeroVironment vice president and general manager of its Unmanned Aircraft Systems business segment. “Blackwing delivers significant value to the undersea community, and we look forward to working closely with our partners to expand this powerful new capability to enable underwater vehicles and cross-domain interoperability. In addition to our Navy partners, we also thank our industry partner Sparton for their continued support on Blackwing efforts.”

Posted by Mike Ball Mike Ball is our resident technical editor here at Unmanned Systems Technology. Combining his passion for teaching, advanced engineering and all things unmanned, Mike keeps a watchful eye over everything related to the unmanned technical sector. With over 10 years’ experience in the unmanned field and a degree in engineering, Mike’s been heading up our technical team here for the last 8 years. Connect & Contact