Submarine deployed flying drone will be deployed and operated in contested airspace

The U.S. Navy plans to deploy unmanned aerial systems (UAS) on board submarines, to provide covert intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and target acquisition to support special operations and full-scale warfare, on sub-surface and surface operations. According to the Navy’s plans, attack and guided missile submarine will be equipped with a miniature UAS known as ‘Blackwing,’ produced by Aerovironment Inc. The Navy plans to buy 150 such systems. The company introduced the new unmanned vehicle at the Sea Air Space event in Washington DC.

Typical operation will see the Blacking deployed in the vicinity of targets in contested or denied airspace, where activities of other manned or unmanned platforms would be too risky. From its forward position, the Blackwing will provide target acquisition and battle damage assessment, in support of strikes performed from stand-off range.

During the demonstration phase (2013-2015) the AWESUM “demonstrates submarine launch, data sharing and control across naval, special operations and air-force units. Photo via Aerovironment Inc.

As part of the Fiscal Year 2017 budget submission to Congress, the Navy is asking for small Blackwing UAVs to be launched from attack and guided missile submarines, the Navy’s director for undersea warfare Rear Adm. Charles Richard told USNI News.

SOURCES – Defense Update, USNI