US Navy is pushing to create squadron of underwater drones by 2019

The Navy submarine community is pushing hard to make progress on unmanned underwater vehicle development and operations, which lag behind unmanned aerial vehicles, through prototype testing and the creation of a UUV squadron.

The submarine community currently gets more use out of unmanned aerial vehicles, which are more technologically mature and easier to operate but they want UUVs to catch up.

Commander of U.S. Submarine Force Pacific Rear Adm. Fritz Roegge said at the same conference that in 2019 the Navy would stand up its first UUV Squadron, which will be subordinate to Submarine Development Squadron 5. He said that, as new types of UUVs come online, the UUVRON would be responsible for learning to man, train and equip operational UUV units and developing UUV operational concepts

Navy wants to mature underwater drone technology by mid-2020s so that next generation submarines designs can fully leverage underwater drones

The Navy expects to buy its first SSN(X) [next generation submarine] in 2034, which means an analysis of alternatives to select a material solution to meet the warfighting requirement would happen in the early- to mid-2020s, he said. Ahead of that AoA, the Navy needs to learn everything it can about UUVs, multi-domain unmanned vehicles such as those that can be launched from undersea and then fly through the air, and unmanned vehicle support systems like the Forward-Deployed Energy-Charging Outpost (FDECO) that UUVs could connect to and recharge mid-mission. While Merz is encouraging industry to send him solutions that could be fielded and tested today, Jabaley said he was soliciting any idea, no matter how crazy, for future submarine-based unmanned systems.

Crew members from Task Group 56.1 launch a MK 18 MOD 2 Kingfish unmanned underwater vehicle from a rigid-hull inflatable boat during Squadex 2016, on Aug. 2, 2016, in the Persian Gulf. Squadex 2016 demonstrates U.S./U.K. mine detection capabilities in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of operations. US Navy photo.