Navy moves forward with unmanned surface vessel with embedded computer for counter-mine warfare

WASHINGTON – U.S. Navy unmanned surface vessel (USV) experts are moving forward with plans to equip the littoral combat ship with quickly deployable fast-moving unmanned boats to clear large ocean areas of sea mines that could threaten aircraft carrier battle groups, commercial ship traffic, and other ocean assets.

Jan 14th, 2019
Navy moves forward with unmanned surface vessel with embedded computer for counter-mine warfare
Navy moves forward with unmanned surface vessel with embedded computer for counter-mine warfare
WASHINGTON – U.S. Navy unmanned surface vessel (USV) experts are moving forward with plans to equip the littoral combat ship with quickly deployable fast-moving unmanned boats to clear large ocean areas of sea mines that could threaten aircraft carrier battle groups, commercial ship traffic, and other ocean assets.

Officials of the Naval Sea Systems Command announced a $10.8 million order late last week to the Textron Systems Corp. Unmanned Systems segment in Hunt Valley, Md., for engineering and technical services for the Unmanned Influence Sweep System (UISS) unmanned patrol boat.

The UISS is one of the counter-mine warfare systems that will enable the littoral combat ship to perform mine warfare sweep missions. UISS will target acoustic, magnetic, and magnetic and acoustic combination mine types only. The UISS program provides rapid wide-area mine clearance to neutralize magnetic and acoustic sea mines in a small, lightweight package.

The UISS uses the Textron Common Unmanned Surface Vessel (CUSV) will travel aboard the LCS and will deploy as necessary to detect, pinpoint, and trigger explosive sea mines hidden under the surface to damage or destroy surface warships or commercial shipping.

Related: One component of the LCS counter-mine package is in trouble, but others are ready to step-up

The system consists of the CUSV unmanned power boat that tows an acoustic and magnetic minesweep system that emits acoustic and magnetic signals that provide a false signature that triggers mines. The surface vessel while operating will be far enough away so that it will not be damaged by a detonating mine, Navy officials say.

The UISS uses the Navy's Multiple Vehicle Communications System (MVCS) aboard the LCS, which handles communications between the LCS surface ship and different mission packages, including the UISS, that involve mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare, and surface warfare.

For the MVCS the Navy is using the AB3100H embedded computer from Astronics Ballard Technology in Everett, Wash. The AB3100H rugged computer is part of the company's AB3000 line of small, lightweight embedded computers with the Intel E680T processor, MIL-STD-1553 and ARINC 429/708/717 interfaces, Ethernet, USB, video, audio, and PMC expansion.

The AB3000 series from Astronics Ballard Technology comes with factory-installed PCI mezzanine card (PMC) modules that enable designers to add an Ethernet switch, synchronous and asynchronous serial interfaces, and isolated double-throw relays.

Related: Navy surveys industry for small businesses able to build Barracuda UUV-based mine neutralizer

The Textron CUSV and its unmanned maritime command and control station use a modular architecture that accommodates platform reconfiguration and interchangeable payloads.

This CUSV unmanned boat is capable of executing mine warfare; anti-submarine warfare; communications relay; intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance; anti-surface warfare; and UAS/UUV launch and recovery missions.

The original UISS contract awarded to Textron in October 2014 calls for the company to build as many as two production UISS units per year for as many as six production units.

On this order Textron will do the work in Hunt Valley, Md.; Slidell, La., and should be finished by September 2019. For more information contact Textron Unmanned Systems online at www.textronsystems.com/what-we-do/unmanned-systems, Astronics Ballard Technology at www.astronics.com, or Naval Sea Systems Command at www.navsea.navy.mil.

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