by Richard Tomkins
Newport, R.I. (UPI) Sep 29, 2016
Lockheed Martin has successfully launched a small unmanned aerial vehicle on command from its MK2 Marlin autonomous underwater vehicle.
The launch was part of a cross-domain command-and-control event hosted by the U.S. Navy last month and also involved a Submaran, an unmanned surface vehicle developed by Ocean Aero, which provided surface reconnaissance and surveillance.
"This effort marks a milestone in showing that an unmanned aircraft, surface vessel and undersea vehicle can communicate and complete a mission cooperatively and completely autonomously," said Kevin Schlosser, chief architect, unmanned systems technology, Lockheed Martin.
Lockheed said that in the demonstration the Submaran relayed instructions to Marlin from a ground control station via underwater acoustic communications. The Marlin then launched the Vector Hawk UAV using a specially-designed canister from the surface.
All three autonomous vehicles -- the Marlin, Submaran and Vector Hawk -- communicated operational status to the ground control station to maintain situational awareness and provide a means to command and control all assets.
"Lockheed Martin has heard loud and clear the U.S. Navy's call to get faster, be more agile, and to be continually creative," said Frank Drennan, director, mission and unmanned systems business development. "We have clearly illustrated that we have the necessary agility and quickness combined with innovative technology to increase the range, reach, and effectiveness of undersea forces."
Lockheed Martin's Vector Hawk is designed for canister or hand launch in all-weather, maritime environments to provide a tailored intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance capability. It is capable of fully autonomous flight and landing. It weighs just four pounds, has a flight endurance of more than 70 minutes and has a line-of-sight range of as much as 9.3 miles.
The Marlin MK2 is a battery-powered, 2,000-pound autonomous underwater vehicle that is 10 feet long and has a 250-pound payload capacity. Its endurance is 18 to 24 hours.
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