THERE is increasing interest in the use of unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) as force multipliers for submarines supporting maritime expeditionary operations. This comes at a time when the increased propensity for operations in littoral waters, and the attendant focus on amphibious power projection, has put a higher priority on the efficient and effective ‘preparation of the battlespace’.
Equally, the current political environment, sensitive to any level of attrition, demands that the risks to high value platforms and their crews are reduced as far as possible. Work continues on the development and evaluation of first-generation submarine-launched UUVs with a particular accent in both the US and the UK on their application for covert mine reconnaissance tasks. Further downstream, the US Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) has outlined a bold vision of how a future generation of UUVs could operate as a stealthy warfighting adjunct to the submarine. A recent study highlighted the anticipated need for larger, more diverse and more flexible payloads to maintain submarine warfighting effectiveness into the 21st century. The study also specifically identified so-called adjunct vehicles as a potential major force multiplier for future submarine operations, fore-casting the use of small, stealthy vehicles “to increase the range and types of missions per-formed near enemy coastlines.”
It is claimed that these vehicles will extend the reach of future under-sea platforms, enabling them to conduct such operations as mine reconnaissance, electronic warfare and intelligence gathering in areas that would otherwise be denied. Operating as a mother ship, the future submarine will give the Joint Force Commander the ability to covertly deploy adjunct vehicles, a capability possessed by no other platform.’
The full article is available from RINA Warship Technology Journal May 2000