The first underwater-launched drone is sneakier than a periscope
The advantage of hiding a giant ship underwater is that it can sneak up on targets undetected. The downside is that it’s hard to keep tabs on what’s happening above the waterline: a problem one company has called LaunchUAV has potentially solved with a quadcopter that can be launched of a submarine while still submerged.
Early submarines mostly stayed close to the surface of the water and only dived to escape immediate threats, but the advent of nuclear-powered submarines meant that ships could remain submerged for long periods of time. This allows them to operate in stealth, but also limits their ability to communicate with the rest of a nation’s navy. and access modern military tools like GPS and satellite imagery. Wireless communications do not work in salt water or have very limited range. So if a sub-captain wants to do reconnaissance above the waterline, he has to surface on the ship to deploy tools like periscopes or a wireless antenna: potentially revealing his position and putting the ship in danger.
SpearUAV Ninox 103 UW underwater drone is a safer way for a submarine to peek out of the water, and takes advantage of the autonomous flight, obstacle avoidance and navigation capabilities of modern quadcopters, which can often flying for almost an hour, even while carrying camera equipment and other sensors.
The Ninox 103 UW launches from a submarine in the same way as missiles and torpedoes, even when the ship is submerged, and heads for the surface of the water inside a capsule autonomous that can float undisturbed for up to 24 hours, giving the submarine time to distance itself in case the capsule is discovered.
After a preset amount of time, the capsule launches the quadcopter into the air, where its four propeller arms extend and the drone pursues a pre-planned flight under its own power with a range of up to 10 kilometers and flight times of approximately 45 minutes. SpearUAV anot disclosed details of the drone’s wireless communications range when relaying video footage, images and other information collected from a target, but the encrypted data could be easily accessed by a submarine at a distance security using antennae deployed stealthily just below the surface of the water.
Unlike a periscope, where the imaging range is limited by its optics and the length of time a captain is willing to keep a submarine on the surface, the drone can see miles and miles from its elevated vantage point. And while we’re sure it’s not as cheap as consumer drones from companies like DJI, given the Army’s budget, the Navy probably won’t lose much sleep if the Ninox 103 UW is detected and neutralized by an enemy. before his mission is complete.