November 27, 2007 In a first of its kind operation, Boeing has successfully demonstrated autonomous launch and recovery of a 21" Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) from a submarine.
According to Boeing, the test breaks new ground for advanced naval operations. "With this recent success, Boeing has taken another important step in UUV development by demonstrating that the unmanned vehicle can return to the submarine and be recovered by a robotic arm," said Dan Jones, director of Boeing Advanced Information Systems, a division of Boeing Space and Intelligence Systems. "This milestone represents a critical next step for the U.S. Navy and opens the door for a whole new set of advanced submarine missions."
The test involved the launch of the AN/BLQ-11 UUV from the torpedo tube of a U.S. Navy attack submarine. The vehicle then returned to the vessel where the system's robotic arm (which extends from another of the host submarine's torpedo tubes) retrieved it into the launch tube. The test was repeated two days later with all test objectives in half the allotted time.
The AN/BLQ-11 (Formerly called the Long-term Mine Reconnaissance System (LMRS)) also performed several complex vehicle maneuvers during the tests, including station keeping and "shadow submarine" during which the system operates underwater alongside the host submarine.
The at-sea UUV tests follow earlier assessments during which Boeing and the Navy proved that the UUV could successfully home and dock with the system's robotic arm, while the submarine was underway. Designed to survey, detect and gather data on underwater threats such as mines, the Navy intends to pursue the development of 21-inch diameter submarine-deployed UUVs.
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