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The Protector unmanned integrated naval combat system


May 24, 2006

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May 25, 2006 The world of robotics is developing remarkably quickly, mainly due to the keen interest of the United States Government in wishing to ensure its military personnel are shielded from harm’s way. Robots can't get killed. Any damage sustained can be repaired. The seeming necessity to fight a war on terror has accelerated development to dizzying urgency and has precipitated the twice run DARPA Grand Challenge and an Urban Grand Challenge planned for next year. The knowledge gained in conducting these machine olympiads has been fast-tracked into prototypes, the first of which we have just seen, the awesomely powerful Crusher UGV. Other species of UGV have developed ranging from SWORDS, the the world’s first robotic combat soldier, through the six-wheeled R-GATOR to the quadruped robotic mule. Funding is flowing for the development of dozens of military-application UAV systems from man-packable size to massive intelligent jet-powered uber-birds that can identify a human target and take it out in one quite literal fell swoop. We’re also seeing unmanned underwater vehicles developed for exploration, mine-clearance, underwater patrol, inspection, maintenance ad infinitum. And as imagination runs rife in the area, new categories of UAV are emerging such as the omnipotent Cormorant MPUAV and the carbon fibre and Kevlar Snark, the meanest and leanest VTOL UAV on the planet. One area that has been notably lean in unmanned vehicle development is surface craft, so a new vehicle, jointly developed by BAE Systems, RAFAEL and Lockheed Martin is worthy of some attention. The Protector is an unmanned integrated naval combat system with a stabilized gun and the ability to conduct a wide spectrum of critical missions while eliminating unnecessary risk to personnel and capital assets. It’s stealthy, fast and highly manoeuvrable, identifies its targets through an electro-optical system and has day and night strike capabilities. Highly autonomous and remotely controlled, the Protector can successfully operate with general guidance from a commander and operator.

The Protector's anti-terror mission module payload includes sensors and weapon systems. The search radar and the Toplite electro-optical (EO) pod enable detection, identification and targeting operations.

The weapon systems are based on RAFAEL's Typhoon remote-controlled, stabilized weapon station, capable of operating various small caliber guns. The highly accurate, stabilized weapon station has excellent hit-and-kill probability.

The Protector is mission reconfigurable through its plug-and-play design, allowing utilization of various mission modules, such as force protection anti-terror surveillance and reconnaissance, mine warfare and electronic warfare.

About the Author
Mike Hanlon Mike grew up thinking he would become a mathematician, accidentally started motorcycle racing, got a job writing road tests for a motorcycle magazine while at university, and became a writer. As a travelling photojournalist during his early career, his work was published in a dozen languages across 20+ countries. He went on to edit or manage over 50 print publications, with target audiences ranging from pensioners to plumbers, many different sports, many car and motorcycle magazines, with many more in the fields of communication - narrow subject magazines on topics such as advertising, marketing, visual communications, design, presentation and direct marketing. Then came the internet and Mike managed internet projects for Australia's largest multimedia company, Telstra.com.au (Australia's largest Telco), Seek.com.au (Australia's largest employment site), top100.com.au, hitwise.com, and a dozen other internet start-ups before founding Gizmag in 2002. Now he writes and thinks. All articles by Mike Hanlon
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