It is stated that the ACTUV will be "a first unmanned naval vessel that is designed and sized for theater or global independent deployment". The aim of the four part program is to develop a surface vessel optimized to overtly track and trail target submarines. A suite of sensors "capable of tracking quiet, modern diesel electric submarines" will be implemented into the completely unmanned vessel.
It is intended that ACTUV will operate under minimal supervisory command and control; with shore bases intermittently monitoring performance and providing high-level mission objectives through beyond line-of-sight communications links. The vessel will be provided with advanced autonomous navigation and anti collision features to keep it within maritime law and the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea.
It is hoped that the unmanned nature of the vessel will open up new technologies in terms of stability and sea keeping. The four part program will culminate in an integrated prototype vessel and sea trials following evaluation and design phases.
DARPA allowed the national security, health, and engineering company Leidos to go forward with the ACTUV program in February 2014. Using an unmanned surface vehicle for submarine hunting is aimed to free up other surface ships from needing to spend time and money looking for them themselves. Leidos' model is an unmanned trimaran built out of carbon composites equipped with navigation and piloting sensors, electro-optics, and long and short range radar to be capable of tracking diesel submarines at extreme depths for months at a time. The vessel is able to report back on the situation and its condition, and has computers programmed to identify other vessels to anticipate what they will do next. It uses a modular design that can be refitted for other roles such as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions. Construction is to take 15 months and the ACTUV is to launch in 2015.
- Construction begins on DARPA's autonomous unmanned anti-submarine vessel - Gizmag.com, 16 July 2014
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