US anti-sub drone boat to counter China's maritime expansion
Source: Want China Times Published: 2015-07-05
The US Navy's anti-submarine warfare continuous trail unmanned vessel can provide a significant boost to US tracking capabilities against China and Russia at sea. The boat was specifically designed to hunt diesel-electric submarines, reports the Tokyo-based Diplomat.
Diesel-electric submarines are being widely procured by states with objectives opposed to the national interests of the United States, such as China and Russia. The US Navy does not operate diesel-electric submarines, though they are cheaper and quieter than their nuclear big brothers, said Gady.
"While not capable of traveling long distances or at great speed, diesel-electric submarines have the potential to deny the US Navy access to strategic coastal areas and could also interrupt seaborne commerce," Gady wrote. The next-generation diesel-electric submarines will even be harder for the US Navy to track since they will be installed with air-independent propulsion systems and advanced lithium-ion batteries.
In 2010, the DoD-connected Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency began the development of an anti-submarine drone which can be used to track enemy submarines in shallow waters. Known as an anti-submarine warfare continuous trail unmanned vessel, the prototype of this new drone boat is designed to operate autonomously for 60-90 days underwater. It will track down the location of enemy submarines and guide other US naval vessels or aircraft for an attack.
Known as the Sea Hunter, the unmanned vessel is ready for sea trials this fall. Ellison Urban, program manager, said that the robot ship was developed because deploying a nuclear-powered submarine for tracking purposes is too expensive. "It can be deployed for months at a time. It can go out, find a diesel-electric submarine, and just ping on it," said Urban.