US. Navy Subs to Deploy Switchblade UAV

Discussion in 'Naval Warfare' started by Kunal Biswas, Apr 15, 2012.

  1. Kunal Biswas

    Kunal Biswas Member of the Year 2011 Moderator

    May 26, 2010
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    The U.S. Navy plans to launch AeroVironment's Switchblade small, expendable unmanned aircraft from a submerged submarine during the RIMPAC 2012 naval exercise in the Pacific.

    A contract has been awarded to Raytheon, which has developed the submerged launch vehicle (SLV) that allows the UAV to be deployed via the submarine's trash-disposal unit when the boat is at periscope depth. The SLV gets the UAV to the surface dry and then ejects it into flight.


    Graphic: Raytheon

    The contract for five sets of SLV and UAV is a continuation of the Submarine Over-The-Horizon Organic Capabilities (SOTHOC) program, under which Raytheon in 2008 demonstrated the "over-the-side" deployment of the SLV and UAV from a surface ship.

    In the SOTHOC concept, the SLV and electric-powered UAV are stored on board as an all-up round. Ejected from the submerged submarine's trash-disposal unit, the SLV is weighted to descend to a safe distance from the boat, then shed the weight and inflate a float collar.

    The collar is pulsed to control the rate of ascent. As it approaches the surface, the SLV deploys a water drogue to provide stabilization and a vane to align it into the wind. The tube then pivots to a 35-deg. angle and ejects the folding-wing UAV.


    Graphic: AeroVironment

    According to a "justification and approval" (J&A) on for award of the sole-source contract to Raytheon to support RIMPAC 2012, the company has been working on SOTHOC since 2007 and deployed the Switchblade from a submerged submarine at periscope depth for the first time under a fiscal 2008 follow-on contract.

    Under a fiscal 2010 contract, the J&A says, Raytheon upgraded the Switchblade for the SOTHOC concept, conducted land-based testing and supplied five SLVs and seven UAVs for a tactical development exercise. The latest award is being made under the same IDIQ umbrella contract.

    U.S. Navy Subs to Deploy Switchblade UAV
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