OCEAN2020: Leonardo chosen to lead major European autonomous systems project
January 12, 2018
Italian defense company Leonardo was selected to lead the first European Defence Found’s initiative project which will see the integration of unmanned platforms in surveillance and interdiction missions.
OCEAN2020, as the project is called, is issued by the European Union under the ‘Preparatory Action on Defence Research’ program.
The project will see unmanned platforms of different types (fixed wing, rotary wing, surface and underwater) integrated with naval units’ command and control centers, allowing for data exchange via satellite, with command and control centers on land.
The joint and cooperative use of both manned and unmanned vehicles will also be demonstrated as part of the project.
The competitive selection was conducted by the European Defence Agency and will be contracted in the coming weeks, Leonardo said. The OCEAN2020 team, which will be led by Leonardo, comprises 42 partners from 15 European countries.
These include the defense ministries of Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal and Lithuania, with additional support from the ministries of defense of Sweden, France, the United Kingdom and Estonia and the Netherlands.
European industrial partners include Indra, Safran, Saab, MBDA, PGZ/CTM, Hensoldt, Intracom-IDE, Fincantieri and QinetiQ. A number of research centers include Fraunhofer, TNO, CMRE (NATO) and IAI.
“We are extremely pleased with this result, the OCEAN2020 initiative has a high level of strategic and technological-operational value” said Alessandro Profumo, CEO of Leonardo. “It is the leading technological research project dedicated to the very topical issue of maritime surveillance, which is of interest across Europe and to the Mediterranean region in particular. This success has been made possible thanks to the strong collaboration between all 42 team partners which we have the honor to lead.”
In addition to complex simulation work, OCEAN2020 project will involve two live demonstrations of maritime surveillance and interdiction operations, conducted by European fleets using unmanned aircraft, surface vessels and underwater systems.
The first demo, scheduled to take place in the Mediterranean Sea in 2019, will be coordinated by the Italian Navy and will see Leonardo’s ‘Hero’ and ‘Solo’ unmanned helicopters operate from Italian naval units alongside other European partners.
The second demonstration, which will take place in 2020 in the Baltic Sea, will be coordinated by the Swedish Navy. The data collected by various systems during these two demos will be processed and sent to a prototype European command and control center in Brussels
Kawasaki Completes Verification Test for Pipeline Inspection AUV
Published: 18 Dec 2017 | Author: Caroline Rees
Kawasaki Heavy Industries has announced the successful completion of a verification test for an autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) in UK waters.
With a focus on the growing demand for pipeline maintenance in the offshore oil and gas fields, Kawasaki has been developing component technologies of AUVs utilizing sophisticated underwater vehicle technologies fostered in-house over the years, with support from a subsidization project by the Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT).
An AUV is capable of autonomously assessing and acting according to its surrounding conditions and circumstances while carrying out preassigned missions, which stands in contrast to the more widely used remotely operated vehicle (ROV), which needs a tether cable for its operation. As a result, AUVs can be operated without dedicated operators on the mother ship or special onboard equipment. Furthermore, tasks such as charging and transferring collected inspection data to the mother ship can be carried out while the AUV is underwater, which enables longer deployment time and reduces the frequency of launching and recovery work. These are expected to reduce the burden of the ship crew, offer greater safety, and reduce maintenance-related costs.
The AUV verification test was carried out at The Underwater Centre, a marine testing and training facility in Fort William, Scotland. Tests at sea used a prototype AUV and a charging station, and included automated docking of the AUV to the charging station, contactless charging, and large-capacity optical communication operations.
During the testing period, representatives from major oil and gas companies, underwater vehicle and equipment operating companies, UK government organizations, UK subsea scientific societies and other organizations interested in Kawasaki’s AUV development efforts were invited to view demonstrations. Kawasaki received high praise from the attendees in relevant fields, with many expressing hope for future commercialization of the AUV.
Kawasaki plans to pursue full-scale development of a pipeline-inspection AUV which utilizes the automated docking and other component technologies tested in Scotland, as well as control algorithms being developed in cooperation with the UK’s Heriot-Watt University, with the aim of commercializing the AUV by the end of 2020.
Saab set to demo an underwater drone that pretends to be a sub
By: David B. Larter 12 Jan 2018
Saab's AUV62-AT drone, which mimics a submarine, will be demonstrated to the U.S. Navy this summer. (Image courtesy of Saab)
ARLINGTON, Va. – The Swedish defense firm Saab is set to demonstrate for the U.S. Navy an underwater drone that simulates a submarine, making it easier for ships and aircraft to practice anti-submarine warfare.
The company announced Tuesday that it was preparing to demonstrate its AUV62-AT drone for the Navy as part of the Foreign Comparative Testing program. The testing will start in the summer of 2018 and there is an option for more resting in 2019.
The drone, which is based on the company’s T-62 torpedo, mimics the acoustic signature of a submarine so that ships can get in their reps and sets on ASW, but spares the Navy the need to dispatch one of its busy submarines to aid with that training.
The company claims the AUV62-AT “fully replaces the use of a submarine in the role as a maneuvering training target,” and says it is already in use in several countries around the world.
APRIL 25, 2019 Hydroid awarded $23.1M for production support on unmanned underwater vehicles
By Allen Cone
At depths from 10 feet to 40 feet, the 600-pound Kingfish submersible can perform low-visible exploration and reconnaissance in support of amphibious landing, mine countermeasures operations and identification. Photo courtesy the Autonomous Undersea Vehicle Applications Center.
April 25 (UPI) -- Hydroid was awarded a $23.1 million contract for production support of the MK 18 family of unmanned submersibles for the U.S. Navy.
With four option years, the cumulative contract could be worth up to $47.9 million, the Defense Department announced Wednesday.
Work will be performed at Hydroid's plant in Pocasset, Mass., with an expected completion date by April 2020 and with options through April 24.
No contract funds were obligated on the contract at time of award.Hydroid was selected because it was the only responsible source and no other supplies or services will satisfy agency requirements.
In 2017, the Navy awarded Hydroid a $27.3 million to upgrade the underwater vehicles, including engineering and technical services for product improvements.
Resembling a conventional torpedo, MK18 Kingfish are launched from ships or mid-sized rigid-hull boats. It is nearly 4 meters long and weighs more than 600 pounds. At depths from 10 feet to 40 feet, the Kingfish submersible can perform low-visible exploration and reconnaissance in support of amphibious landing, mine countermeasures operations and identification
The Kingfish is a variant of the Hydroid REMUS 600, which was developed originally through funding from the Office of Naval Research.
The REMUS 600, which is known as the Swordfish, can dive to depths of nearly 2,000 feet, operating on one battery charge for as long as 24 hours. The REMUS 600 UUV is nearly 13 feet long and 2 feet in diameter.
Hydroid, a subsidiary of Kongsberg Maritime, was founded in 2001 by the inventors of the REMUS to allow for continuous product development, according to its website.
"With their MK 18 family of UUV systems, we've put them aboard cruisers and destroyers and had them do extensive rehearsals of the actual operations -- and in some cases, in exercises and operations we've actually used those platforms," Capt. Michael Egan, commander of Task Force 52, said last year at the National Defense Industrial Association's annual Expeditionary Warfare Conference.
Navy asks Hydroid to build extra versions of MK 18 mine-hunting UUV for underwater reconnaissance
May 6th, 2019
INDIAN HEAD, Md. – Unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) experts at Hydroid Inc. in Pocasset, Mass., will build MK 18 family of unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) systems for the U.S. Navy under terms of a potential $47.9 million contract announced last week.
Navy asks Hydroid to build extra versions of MK 18 mine-hunting UUV for underwater reconnaissance
Officials of the Naval Surface Warfare Center (NSWC) Indian Head Explosive Ordnance Disposal Technology Division in Indian Head, Md., are asking Hydroid for additional MK 18 UUVs to detect, pinpoint, and neutralize underwater threats like sea mines.
The Navy Hydroid MK 18 UUV is amine-hunting variant of the Hydroid REMUS 600, which Hydroid developed originally developed through funding from the Office of Naval Research (ONR) in Arlington, Va., to support the Navy's UUVs with extended endurance, increased payload capacity, and greater operating depth.
Navy officials are not releasing the number of MK 18 UUVs they are asking Hydroid to build. The contract, revealed in a 2 May justification and approval notice, is a one-year indefinite deliver, indefinite quantity deal with four one-year options.
The Mk 18 Mod 1 Swordfish UUV forunderwater reconnaissance is capable of performing low-visible exploration and reconnaissance in support of amphibious landing; mine countermeasures operations such as search, classification, mapping, reacquire, and identification; hydrographic mapping at depths from 10 to 40 feet.
The UUV can navigate via acoustic transponders in long-baseline or ultra-short-baseline mode or via P-coded GPS. Its upward- and downward-looking acoustic digital velocity log improves dead-reckoning accuracy.
The MK 18 Mod 1 Swordfish UUV achieved full operational capabilities in 2008. Follow-on block upgrades will combine two separate UUV programs into the MK 18 family of systems to deliver improved detection capability against buried mines in high clutter environments.
The REMUS 600, on which the MK 18 UUV is based, can dive to depths of nearly 2,000 feet, and can operate on one battery charge for as long as 24 hours. The UUV is for mine countermeasures; harbor security; debris field mapping; search and salvage; scientific sampling and mapping; hydrographic surveys; environmental monitoring; and fishery operations. REMUS is short for Remote Environmental Measuring Unit S.
The torpedo-shaped REMUS 600 UUV is nearly 13 feet long and two feet in diameter. The unit weighs 622 pounds. It has dynamic focus side look sonar (SLS), a Neil Brown conductivity and temperature sensor (CT), WET Labs beam attenuation meter (BAM) optical sensor, Imagenex 852 pencil beam sonar for obstacle avoidance, and a WET Labs ECO fluorometer and turbidity measurement sensor.
Its communications suite consists of a long baseline acoustic communications, WiFi, Iridium satellite communications, and radio modem via gateway buoy. The UUV navigates by up- and down-looking acoustic Doppler current profiler; Doppler velocity log; Kearfott inertial navigation unit; compass; and GPS.
The REMUS 600 has a modular design to meet a variety of payloads. The UUV has a series of hull sections that can be separated for vehicle reconfiguration, maintenance, and shipping. It uses the Hydroid Vehicle Interface Program (VIP) for maintenance, checkout, mission planning, and data analysis.
Navy eyes sonar, communications, and power upgrades for Black Pearl unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs)
Jan 24th, 2019
Navy eyes sonar, communications, and power upgrades for Black Pearl unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs)
STENNIS SPACE CENTER, Miss. – U.S. Navy researchers are looking for companies able to upgrade unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) for research programs in anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and mine countermeasures.
Officials of the Naval Research Laboratory (NRL) at Stennis Space Center, Miss., issued a request for information on Tuesday (N00173-19-RFI-WR02) for the Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs) for Undersea Research project to upgrade the 21-inch-diameter Black Pearl UUV with new capabilities.
Navy researchers want to add two-way Iridium satellite communications (SATCOM) to the Black Pearl UUV; alter the unmanned submersible's payloads bay; determine the best way to accommodate side-scan and multi-beamsonar; and manufacture new UUVs and control systems, tail sections, and batteries.
Bluefin Robotics, a division of the General Dynamics Corp. Mission Systems segment in Quincy, Mass., is manufacturer of the Black Pearl. The company won a $7.1 million contract in April 2014 design and build the Black Pearl autonomous underwater vehicle -- an underwater drone for research in long range and multi-static mine hunting and ASW programs, as well as in new distributed sensing research. Bluefin experts were to build as many as five next-generation underwater drones based on the company's Bluefin 21 UUV.
The Navy wants to find a contractor to develop improved capability for two-way Iridium SATCOM. This involves developing a new software driver for the Iridium board, developing software to enable basic two-way messaging, and developing software to help upload missions to the UUV via Iridium. Also needed are software drivers and mechanical structures to accommodate Navy research payloads in the payload sections.
The contractor also will build and test five upgraded Black Pearl UUVs including tail sections for each of the Black Pearl UUVs; a batterypower section for each UUV; and a nose section for each UUV. Also needed is a set of topside support equipment to enable the UUVs to operate together as a system, sharing some of the common topside equipment.
This will include two RF deck boxes with antennas; two Iridium deck boxes with antennas; one Sonardyne Dunker kit; two RDF receivers and antennas (quantity 2); five battery chargers; two vehicle carts; two vehicle and support equipment shipping cases; one vehicle toolkit; and two ruggedized operator laptop computers and software.
Spare parts needed include three antennas; three tail cones; three propellers and duct kits; four vehicle power switches; three 1.85-kilowatt batteries; five wet cables; 15 drop weights; 30 drop weight burn wires three RDF emergency transmitters; three O-ring kits; three fastener kits; three joining bands; 18 barrel nuts; six nose line with float and float hardware; one MEH board set; one SVS+P sensor; and one AvTrak 6.
Optionally, the Navy may want structural and battery upgrades to the Reliant UUV to make it similar to the Black Pearl -- a state-of-the-art 21-inch-diameter UUV with GPS/INS/DVL navigation capability, low noise propulsion, and onboard energy sufficient to carry out missions longer than 24 hours. The vehicle uses a graphics-based PC mission planning tool.
The original Black Pearl design has a 3-to-5-nautical-mile per hour operating speed, a 400 meter depth capability, a minimum of 18 kilowatt-hour energy storage, and a real-time GPS-aided fiber optic gyro (IXSEA PHINS III), inertial navigation system (INS) integrated with Doppler velocity log instrument capable of measuring the vehicle's horizontal position, velocity, and attitude.
The position accuracy drift rate while traveling submerged on a straight line, is 0.15 percent of distance traveled, or less. The system has an over-the-horizon (OTH) communication capability for periodic vehicle status, monitoring, and redirection using Iridium SATCOM system while the vehicle is on the surface.
The UUV supports several payload types, supplied by NRL researchers, that may include broadband low frequency sonars for MCM and ASW; environmental data sensors such as water depth, speed of sound in water along vehicle path, water temperature, and water current); and payloads for acoustic modem research (ACOMMS).
It can carry several sensors and payloads at once in swappable payload sections and battery modules for in-field mission reconfiguration. The UUV is a deep-rated ocean drone that can be launched and recovered from a simple A-frame or docking head.
The Bluefin 21 design is 16.2 feet long, 21 inches in diameter, and weighs 1,650 pounds. It can dive to nearly 15,000 feet, can operate for 25 hours on one battery charge, and moves at speeds to 4.5 knots while using a total of 13.5 kilowatts of electricity.
The UUV is a popular vehicle for deep-dive research and counter-mine operations. The UUV is the basis for the Navy General Dynamics Knifefish surface-mine countermeasure unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV).
Navy's Knifefish Mine-Hunting Drone Sub Approved for Production
A Knifefish unmanned undersea vehicle (UUV) training model undergoes crane operations July 24, 2019, aboard the Military Sealift Command expeditionary fast transport vessel USNS Spearhead as part of a training exercise enabling mine countermeasure missions (MCM) from an EPF as a vessel of opportunity. Knifefish is a medium-class mine countermeasure UUV designed for deployment off the littoral combat ship. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Anderson W. Branch)
The Navy recently approved low-rate initial production (LRIP) for a special, underwater drone system designed to conduct counter-mine operations for the service's littoral combat ship.
Program Executive Officer for Unmanned and Small Combatants recently granted Milestone C approval to the Knifefish Surface Mine Countermeasure Unmanned Undersea Vehicle Program, according to a news release from Naval Sea Systems Command.
The Navy is expected to award an LRIP contract to Knifefish prime contractor General Dynamics Mission Systems, the release states.
The Knifefish system is designed to deploy from an LCS as well as from other offshore vessels to detect and classify "buried, bottom and volume mines" in highly cluttered environments, according to the release.
Knifefish consists of two unmanned undersea vehicles, along with support systems and equipment. It uses cutting-edge low-frequency broadband sonar and automated target recognition software technology to act as an off-board sensor while the host ship stays outside the minefield boundaries, the release states.
The Navy hopes to approve a full-rate production decision for the system in fiscal 2021 after additional testing of LRIP systems, according to the release. The service plans to buy 30 Knifefish systems in all -- 24 in support of LCS mine countermeasure mission packages and an additional six systems for deployment from other vessels.
The Navy conducted formal developmental testing and operational assessment from January through May 2019 in multiple locations off the coast of Massachusetts and Florida, according to the release. The Knifefish tests involved operational mine-hunting missions against a simulated target field.
Northrop Grumman successfully tests newest minehunting sonar system
October 8, 2019
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U.S defense giant Northrop Grumman has announced that it successfully operated the new AQS-24 minehunting sonar system at depths greater than 400 feet during system testing off the coast of Ft. Lauderdale, Florida.
Embarked on the M/V Richard Becker, the Northrop Grumman test team demonstrated reliable AQS-24 system operations with excellent sonar performance at all tested depths, while using the system to classify bottom objects of interest.
The AQS-24 sonar is a rapidly deployable sonar system that provides acoustic images for detection, classification and localization of bottom and moored mines. The AQS-24 equipment includes an actively-controlled towed body, an electromechanical tow cable and signal processing and recording electronics. The towed body contains a synthetic aperture side scan, multi-beam sonar that provides a wide range of focused acoustic signals. An optional laser line scan section can be attached to provide optical target identification.
“The AQS-24 minehunting system performed superbly at tow depths up to and beyond 400 feet,” said Alan Lytle, vice president, undersea systems, Northrop Grumman. “This latest internal research and development effort underscores our commitment to provide the most innovative, affordable and operationally-proven capabilities to meet the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) Mine Countermeasures Mission (MCM) package requirements and future expeditionary MCM needs.”
Earlier this year, Northrop Grumman demonstrated an autonomy upgrade path for the AQS-24’s minehunting system by integrating and successfully testing the company’s image exploitation suite, incorporating state-of-the-art machine learning for automatic target recognition (ATR) using multiple ATR algorithms. Following this successful demonstration, the U.S. Navy plans to incorporate this new capability into existing AQS-24 minehunting systems.
The success of Deep Tow is now followed by the recently commenced in-water testing of Northrop Grumman’s AQS-24 system on the Navy’s MCM unmanned surface vessel (USV) at Naval Surface Warfare Center Panama City. This is in preparation for user operated evaluation system testing aboard the LCS in 2020. The AQS-24’s newly doubled depth capability is planned for integration and test with the MCM USV system.
These major enhancements to the U.S. Navy’s only operational minehunting towed sonar – running deeper, automatically detecting and reporting targets, and providing the transition to the LCS MCM USV – increases the operational effectiveness of the AQS-24 system while providing the warfighter with an unprecedented capability that affordably meets operational needs and provides a proven path for continued integration of state-of-the-art technology.
Currently, Sea mines pose a significant threat to U.S., allied and commercial shipping, particularly in navigation choke points and transit lanes.
The Marine Corps has selected shipbuilding company Metal Shark to develop a long-range unmanned surface vessel.
The service awarded the Louisiana-based company an other transaction authority agreement in January to design, build and test the vessels. Metal Shark will also work with the Marine Corps to integrate autonomy and an advanced command-and-control software suite into the systems.
Immediate next steps for the company include “development of a low-rate production fleet, a series of early crafts that will be incorporated into the Marine Corps [fleet] and used to develop, test and demonstrate the technology, which is intended in the early winter of 2023,” Metal Shark CEO Chris Allard said in an interview.
The system will be tiered and scalable, providing the service with the ability to track and destroy targets at range, Allard noted.
“We are designing the platform for long-term scalability [and] integration of different payloads, whether that be submarine detection, hydrographic survey, surveillance [or] mine hunting,” he said. “We are going to be incorporating future opportunities for growth into the craft.”
The long-range unmanned surface vessel will be fully autonomous with the option of being manned. The system can carry multiple payloads, which it can retrieve or launch.
Metal Shark is working with autonomous technology developer Spatial Integrated Systems — which was recently acquired by Huntington Ingalls Industries — to provide the autonomy capabilities for the platform, according to the company.
In addition to the autonomous unmanned system, Metal Shark will also produce manned support vessels for the LRUSV system utilizing its “40 Defiant” military patrol craft, which the company is currently producing as part of a Navy patrol boat effort.
As a number of new unmanned systems programs are being launched throughout the Defense Department and other government agencies, Metal Shark is eyeing new opportunities in the autonomous system market.
“There are a couple of other unmanned systems programs coming out of both the Navy and [the Department of Homeland Security] that we’re excited to be a part of,” Allard said.