Navy demos anti-mine drone

Navy demos anti-mine drone

Not all unmanned systems are in the sky.  The Navy demonstrated how unmanned underwater vehicle technology could help destroy an undersea mine when sailors aboard the USS Sentry piloted a UUV mounted with live explosives to eliminate a training mine in this month’s International Mine Countermeasures Exercise. 

Using mine-hunting sonar, sailors can map the sea floor and identify “mine-like” objects.  These flagged objects can then be further investigated and neutralized by the SLQ-60 SeaFox UUV, a remote-controlled mini-submarine drone that sailors use to attach an explosive to a mine while the ship remains at a safe distance.

Once the mine has been destroyed, another SeaFox is deployed to ensure the sensory data collection chamber  the mine uses to arm itself has been destroyed.

“The SeaFox pilot is ultimately responsible for putting ordnance on target,” Sentry’s Lt. Cmdr. Lawrence Heyworth IV said. “But it's a collaborative team effort that enables that pilot to accomplish the mission. Just as an offensive line might deserve more credit than a fullback for a goal line touchdown, every rating pulls their own weight in a small crew."

The Navy is looking to make heavy investments in UUV technology going forward.  “[W]e’re also investing $600 million over the next five years in variable size and variable payload unmanned undersea vehicles -- a new capability you’ll be seeing a lot more of,” Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter told sailors in February. 

About the Author

Mark Pomerleau is a former editorial fellow with GCN and Defense Systems.

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