Apr 13, 2009 12:19 UTC
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Work is beginning on a $9.9 million Unmanned Anti-Submarine Warfare Support Facility, which will be located at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division, Newport. A World War II era building, originally built as a steam plant on the waterfront of Narragansett Bay, will be converted to support integrated testing and evaluation of USVs (Unmanned surface Vehicles) and UUVs (Unmanned Undersea Vehicles) on the Narragansett Range. The instrumented range will be used for testing UUVs and USVs, swimmer delivery systems, payloads, torpedoes, targets, underwater surveillance, swimmer defense systems and related undersea technologies.
The architectural and engineering design portion of the project was awarded March 6/09 to AECOM Services, Inc. of Roanoke, VA. Construction is expected to begin in May 2010, with the building’s new tenants expecting to move in around November 2011. US Navy release.
Jan 28, 2009 20:09 UTC
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by P.W. Singer, The Brookings Institution
Something big is going on in the history of war, and maybe even humanity itself. The US military went into Iraq with just a handful of drones in the air and zero unmanned systems on the ground, none of them armed. Today, there are over 5,300 drones in the US inventory and another roughly 12,000 on the ground. And these are just the first generation, the Model T Fords compared to what is already in the prototype stage. This is what is happening now. Peering forward, one Air Force lieutenant general forecast that “given the growth trends, it is not unreasonable to postulate future conflicts involving tens of thousands.”
For my book Wired for War, I spent the last several years trying to capture this historic moment, as robots begin to move into the fighting of our human wars. The book features stories and anecdotes of everyone from robotic scientists and the science fiction writers who inspire them to 19 year old drone pilots and the Iraqi insurgents they are fighting. The hope wasn’t just to take the reader on a journey to meet this new generation of warriors–both human and machine, but also to explore the fascinating, and sometimes frightening, political, economic, legal and ethical questions that our society had better start facing in how our wars will be fought and who will fight them. In other words, “What happens when science fiction becomes battlefield reality?”
Despite all the enthusiasm in military circles for the next generation of unmanned vehicles, ships, and planes, there is one question, however, that people are generally reluctant to talk about. It is the equivalent of Lord Voldemort in Harry Potter, the issue That-Must-Not-Be-Discussed. What happens to the human role in war as we arm ever more intelligent, more capable, and increasingly more autonomous robots?
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Jan 26, 2009 18:05 UTC
What happens when advances in modern electronics mean that sensors like imaging-class radars, advanced day/night cameras, and even more exotic items like hyperspectral sensors, laser radars, etc. are no longer very expensive items that are mounted on dedicated platforms? When a wide array of video cameras, surveillance turrets, ubiquitous radar capabilities, and other systems built into vehicles, aircraft, ships, and unmanned vehicles provide an explosion of sensor data – just as a range of databases related to human patterns or physical infrastructure are also appearing on the scene, in numbers.
In part, it is similar to what happened when the Internet went from an academic platform to a global phenomenon. The good news was, so much more information became available. The bad news was, finding the things we were looking for started to involve a lot more work.
The military has this same problem with sensors, only worse. Most of the time, they’re not necessarily looking for discrete answers, but for an overall picture of what’s going on. That becomes hard as sensors move from a small number deployed on dedicated platforms, to hundreds or thousands of them employed in platforms of every shape and size. For some applications, like domestic security or protecting certain key areas, it gets even harder. The need to include physical surveillance, communications surveillance, information about human activities, and improved geo-awareness all combine to produce a maddeningly complex task.
Moore’s Law of doubling computing power, and Metcalfe’s Law of exponential network power, created this data explosion. Several cycles later, the military is hoping it can begin to offer assistance, by turning massive arrays of data into coherent systems that help humans respond at the speed of events. The first step was data fusion. The next step was sensor fusion. The third step is information fusion… and the US Navy has just set up a center to work on it.
- Situation Awareness vs. Information Awareness
- Information Fusion: A Scenario Illustration
- The NAWCWD’s Information Fusion Center
- IF Center: Contracts and Related Events
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Nov 28, 2007 19:11 UTC
Loading the UUV
Unmanned Underwater Vehicles are becoming increasingly popular for a number of roles, including mine detection, advance scouting roles against enemy vessels, and basic hydrographic work. With nuclear submarines costing $2 billion and more per boat, an inexpensive surrogate that could handle some of the most dangerous jobs seems like an obvious addition – especially given the popularity of well-understood torpedo-like designs for key naval UUVs like Remus family, Bluefin-21 et. al.
Launching these UUVs is no challenge. Just build them to the 21-inch diameter limit and use the torpedo tubes. The thing is, submarines have a more restricted carrying capacity than most people think; even the US Virginia Class can carry only 26 total torpedoes, anti-ship missiles, and torpedo-like UUVs. That makes one-shot UUVs unacceptably expensive. In order to be effective, submarines will have to do something not normally done with torpedoes – recover them at the end of their mission. Enter the Long-Term Mine Reconnaissance System (LMRS), now known as the AN/BLQ-11 UUV…
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Nov 26, 2007 22:05 UTC
If you want to keep track of key Pentagon programs, Selected Acquisition Reports are an important resource. Shortly after the defense budget is submitted, the Pentagon releases details on major defense acquisition program cost, schedule, and performance changes on a periodic basis, summarizing the latest estimates of a major program’s cost, schedule, and technical status. Quarterly SARs are submitted for initial reports, final reports, and for programs that are rebaselined at major milestone decisions. Subsequent quarterly exception reports are required only for those programs experiencing unit cost increases of at least 15%, or schedule delays of at least 6 months.
Total program cost estimates provided in the SARs include research and development, procurement, military construction, and acquisition-related operation and maintenance (except for pre-Milestone B programs which are development costs only). Total program costs reflect actual costs to date, as well as future anticipated costs, and include anticipated inflation allowances.
The November 2007 SAR is a mixed bag, as usual…
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Sep 23, 2007 15:28 UTC
Hydroid, LLC at the has carved out a very strong position in the global market for unmanned anti-mine underwater vehicles. Its modular Remote Environmental Measuring Unit (REMUS) systems were developed at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and are already serving with Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, the US Navy, and the UK’s Royal Navy.
BAE Systems has been racing to catch up, rapidly developing their Talisman UUV using fast, iterative prototyping. The UK MoD continues to purchase Hydroid systems thus far, however, including a recent GBP 5.5 million (about $11.1 million) purchase of 2 complete Remus 600 systems for mine countermeasures work.
The REMUS 600 vehicles will provide a detailed maritime survey and mine detection and classification capability in the 30m to 200m depth range, although the vehicle can operate down to 600m. It is fitted with a range of sensors and runs on re-chargeable batteries giving it an endurance of over 70 hours. The Remus 600 can be deployed from any vessel equipped with a one tonne crane or davit, and is intended to enter service in 2009. UK MoD release.
Jun 27, 2007 07:10 UTC
Changes in US anti-submarine warfare strategy have included the growing importance of dealing with super-quiet diesel-electric submarines in shallow-water littorals.
In response, one of the early-stage Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) approaches involves thinking entirely outside the sonar box. We talk about “submariner dolphins” – but maybe the creature they really need to emulate is the shark. Now a recent contract indicates that the US military is making real progress toward that goal…
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May 24, 2007 09:07 UTC
Sweden’s Saab Underwater Systems makes UUVs like the Double Eagle, and has a special focus on littoral, shallow and difficult underwater environments due to Sweden’s underwater geography. Seaeye Marine, with approximately 50 employees and annual sales of approximately GBP 12 million (currently about $23.75 million), is located in Fareham, Hampshire on the south coast of England. The company develops and manufactures a range of electric powered remotely-operated underwater systems, and has become a leading supplier to the offshore oil and gas industry. The firm has expanded its vehicles’ capabilities of late to include the tasks like security, salvage and coastal observation.
The parties appear to think that the two are a good fit, as Saab just bought Seaeye Holdings Ltd. for GBP 13 million (currently about $25.7 million). Saab sees it as a way of strenthening their naval products portfolio with offerings that can serve both civilian and military markets. Seaeye CEO Chris Tarmey sees Saab as a way into maritime security and defense applications, and believes there may be technical synergies as well. Saab Release | Seaeye release.
May 14, 2007 08:15 UTC
Hydroid, LLC in Pocasset, MA received a $26 million firm-fixed-price, cost-plus-fixed fee, indefinite delivery/indefinite quantity contract for maintenance, repair, alterations and upgrades of the torpedo-shaped Remote Environmental Measuring Unit (REMUS) Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) system, as well as upkeep of documentation used with these UUV systems. This is most probably connected to the contract for the “Swordfish” mine counter measures variant of the two-man portable REMUS 100. Hydroid recently delivered its 100th REMUS 100 vehicle; naval customers include Australia, Belgium, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Singapore, the UK’s Royal Navy. The USA used them during Operation Iraqi Freedom for mine clearing, and it is part of an emerging constellation of reconnaissance UUVs.
This contract includes services and supplies required for the operation and maintenance of UUV systems, including maintaining them in state-of-the-art configuration. The contract will also provide for procurement of up to 24 additional UUV replacement vehicles/ auxiliary support equipment, should UUVs be lost or damaged beyond repair. Work will be performed in Pocasset, MA and is expected to be complete by May 2012. The contract was not competitively procured by the Naval Sea Systems Command, Indian Head Division in Indian Head, MD (N00174-07-D-0001).
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Jan 03, 2007 06:32 UTC
Mk 30 Mod 2, pre-launch
The Lockheed Martin Sippican/ Granite State Manufacturing Submarine Antenna Joint Venture in Marion, MA received an $8 million modification under previously awarded contract (N00024-05-C-6102), to exercise an option for production of the MK 30 Mod 2 Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Target System (ATS) along with associated proofing support material and replenishment spares. This procurement satisfies the FY 2007 undersea weapons requirement for production of 3 Target Undersea Vehicles and associated support services. Work will be performed in Marion, MA (57.7%, Sippican); and Manchester, NH (42.3%, Granite State), and is expected to be complete by July 2007. The Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington, DC is the contracting activity.
The MK 30 Mod 2 ATS recoverable ASW target provides training services for submarine, surface ship and aircraft crews to employ their sensors and weapon systems in realistic and operationally representative situations. The ATS can be launched from a helicopter or surface ship, and simulates a submarine’s dynamics of speed, depth and maneuvers. Realistic signatures of passive and active acoustics and magnetic anomaly detection, along with tactics, can be preprogrammed into the TUV to increase realism and enhance training. The MK 30 Mod 2 ATS will replace the existing MK 30 Mod 1 system, and Lockheed Martin Sippican claims significant improvements in capability, reliability, maintainability/ availability, and affordability. See also the original contract win release from February 24, 2005.
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