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

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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.

    [​IMG]

    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.

    [​IMG]

    Graphic: AeroVironment

    According to a "justification and approval" (J&A) on fbo.gov 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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