Naval Drone Tech: Countering UUVs

Dolphin with pistol strapped to its head? Your days may be numbered…

As the recent Israeli shootdown of a Hezbollah UAV reminded us, it is relatively easy to destroy an unmanned aircraft.  But what about the proliferating numbers of unmanned undersea vehicles?  The growth in these systems for naval applications will inevitably result in the requirement to  counter an adversary’s underwater drones.  Detection of a small man-made object moving underwater is not trivial, but also becoming easier with the advent of technologies such as high-resolution imaging sonars and Light Detection And Ranging (LIDAR) systems.

However, once an AUV is detected, how can it be destroyed?  This problem set isn’t new. Mini-subs and combat swimmers have threatened ships in port since World War II.  The old school way of dealing with frogmen is to drop a concussion grenade over the side of a boat.  Alternatively, some navies have experimented with dolphins to counter swimmers.  These sorts of mammal-based systems could conceivably be trained to work against AUVs.  Other advanced technology developments will allow mammals to stay out combat.

Super-cavitating bullets, like those produced by US-based PNW Arms and Norway-based DSG Technology (see video) offer a potential weapon for defeating AUVs.  According to PNW Arms, “supercavitation is the use of cavitation effects to create a bubble of gas inside a liquid large enough to encompass an object traveling through the liquid, which greatly reduces friction drag on the object and enables the achievement of very high speeds.”  DSG Technology’s Multi-Environment Ammunition allows ordnance ranging in size from 4.5 mm through to 155 mm to transit from air to water or vice versa.  Conceivably, AUVs could be detected and engaged from the air.  The U.S. Navy’s AN/AWS-2 Rapid Airborne Mine Clearance System (RAMICS) technology demonstrator used a helicopter equipped with a blue-green LIDAR to locate mines near the surface, then a 30 mm super-cavitating round to neutralize them at depths of up to 60 meters.  The program was cancelled in 2011 due to technical and budgetary issues.

Super-cavitating rounds also open up the possibility of hunter-killer unmanned undersea vehicles, guarding a port from other AUVs, mini-subs, and swimmers.  Submariners often remind other sailors that the best ASW weapon is another submarine and the same may be true with AUVs.  However, discriminating between an AUV and a similarly sized fish or marine mammal before pulling the trigger might be difficult without some sort of corroborating data, or image recognition algorithms.

This article was re-posted by permission from

Return to Regularly Scheduled Program

We went a little long with our International Maritime Satire Week – according to my wife I’m apparently I’m “not allowed to blog on our anniversary.” In any case we are returning you to your regularly scheduled, non-satirical NextWar Blog, but first wanted to recap our twitter feed (@CIMSEC) of headlines you might not have seen:

– SECNAV Reintroduces Grog in the US Navy:

– Autobiography Reveals Alfred T. Mahan Spent Nights Secretly Writing “Twilight” Fan Fiction

– CNO Introduces Equal Opportunity Red Teams:

– Following Success of Shipboard Breathalyzers, SECNAV Introduces New Parental Chaperone Program

– UAV Weds Topgun Instructor

– Pentagon Announces Sequestration Scenario for Navy

– General Atomics Partners with Cyberdyne for New T-800 Drone

– US Joins UNCLOS; Washington Immediately Seized by UN Forces

– US Navy Introduces New LCS Mission Packages:

– Sign-up now for winter Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps-Navy Photoshop Seminars!

– Xinhua Oped Says Great Barrier Reef a Sacred and Integral Part of China

– Iranian Navy Plans to Alleviate Burden of Global Maritime Responsibilities from US

– New Somalia National Government Developing a Bailout Package for Failing Piracy Industry

– Admiral’s Staff Completes PowerPoint Magnum Opus – To Be Performed at 1630 Brief.

– Sneak Preview of CNO’s US Navy Birthday Message: “Antarctica Will be Ours!”

– IRGCN Admiral says Iranian Navy Plans to Patrol US Great Salt Lake

– Mothership Tours and Skiff Rides at Somali Piracy Week:

– North Korea Loses 4 Patrol Boats in Skirmish with South Along Border, Declares “Glorious Unparalleled Victory”

– US Navy to Power Great Blue Fleet with Unobtainium

– Chinese name second aircraft carrier “Panda Express”

– Putin Announces New, Innovative Naval Policy: Build Massive Navy: 

– US Navy CO Fired to Meet Navy Times Quota

– MQ-8B Fire Scout Spends Crew Rest Dominating Friends on X-Box

– Pakistan Says Claims Osama Bin Laden Found in Abottabad “Insultingly Untrue”

– Spain Says Iran Has Secret Vintner Tech, Crossing Red Wine Line; Ahmejinedad Threatens to Close Strait of Gibraltar

– President Deploys US 10th Fleet to Cyberspace:

Pentagon Announces Sequestration Scenario for Navy

International Maritime Satire Week Warning: The following is a piece of fiction intended to elicit insight through the use of satire and written by those who do not make a living being funny – so it’s not serious and very well might not be funny.  Our apologies to those who read this without the warning and mistakenly believed it to be true. 

The expensive military officers and civilian strategists in the AirSea Battle Office will be outsourced to members of “Earth, Wind & Fire” as part of the Pentagon’s efforts to meet the budget cuts imposed by sequestration.

Due to the looming threat of congressionally mandated spending cuts known as sequestration, the Pentagon today outlined how the drastic decrease in funds would impact the sea service:

– US Naval Academy shuttered – Midshipman curriculum to consist of  instructional training video “Annapolis”

– The next Arleigh Burke-class destroyers will be named USS Comcast (DDG 117) and USS Verizon (DDG 118) in a landmark sponsorship/naming rights deal

– Services’ Unfunded Requirements Lists posted to Kickstarter

– AirSea strategy outsourced to members of “Earth, Wind & Fire” 

– Navy SEALS will moonlight as personal trainers and facilities attendants at fleet recreation centers and gyms

– Littoral Combat Ship production line replaced with Literal Pocket Battleships

– Latest Aegis upgrades to include dual-sided 8×8 peg boards; sound effects

– Navy’s contribution to the interservice F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program to consist of home-made cookies and punch at meetings

– Carrier pigeons will augment carrier fleet

– Racing stripes stand in for scheduled F-18 Super Hornet upgrades

– Taking cue from NASCAR, Navy to sell advertising space on warships

– Forced to scrap railgun program, the Office of Naval Reasearch will keep excitement about future weapons alive by testing railroad guns aboard fleet surface vessels

– “Pivot to the Pacific” rebranded the “Amble to Asia”

– Galley cooks will serve dual-duty as galley oarsmen

– Retirement pension after 20 years of service cut in favor of coupon book for service-members in their fleet concentration area of choice

– Fleet shipbuilding plan will include lifeboats in its 300 ship Navy total

SECNAV Scrambles to Find Chit for 2 Trillion Dollars

International Maritime Satire Week Warning: The following is a piece of fiction intended to elicit insight through the use of satire and written by those who do not make a living being funny – so it’s not serious and very well might not be funny.  Our apologies to those who read this without the warning and mistakenly believed it to be true. 

Sources in SECNAV’s office are positive a request for a $2 trillion plus-up is around here, somewhere.

Revelations from last week’s presidential debate have put Secretary Ray Maybus’ office into a tailspin. During the debate, President Obama’s stated that Mitt Romney planned to provide, “two trillion dollars in additional military spending that the military hasn’t asked for.”

“I could have sworn I left the special request chit in the SecDef’s inbox,” said Secretary Maybus. The Office of the Secretary of Defense has announced it only received four Christmas Leave chits, a duty-swap chit, and hasn’t seen any special request chits for more money.

“I know I turned it in to SECNAV,” said Chief of Naval Operatons, Admiral Jonathan Greenert, “I put two folders in the Secretary’s inbox. One was for Christmas Leave and the other a request for EXACTLY 2 Trillion dollars. I remember, because I almost left my leave chit in the wrong folder. I’m taking second leave, since usually the first standown period is more relaxed.”

The mystery of the missing lion’s share of Christmas leave chits, as well as the special request chit for 2 trillion dollars, has puzzled many. OPNAV reports turning in at least 160,523 chits for Christmas stand-down. Reportedly, three personnel elected to skip leave altogether due to a low balance of leave days. An unamed insider suggests that, if they just find the rest of those chits, the special request for money will be with it.

This is not the first time major budget-related chits have been lost close to leave periods. Before Thanksgiving in 2010, the OPNAV Office of Assesment (N81) signed and routed up a chit to cancel the Littoral Combat Ship program due to the discovery that it was “total garbage.”

“Imagine our surprise,” said N81’s former head, Rear Admiral Zapp Brannigan, “we thought we cancelled the project, but return from leave to discover they’re building not one, but both those disasters. Maybe they misread our request.”

Fostering the Discussion on Securing the Seas.