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USN/DARPA ACTUV program

sferrin

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Moose said:
sferrin said:
They wouldn't even have to damage it. Just board it and sail it home or hook a rope to it and tow it home. Free goodies! <picard_facepalm>
The con is mounted on the prototype for trials purposes, the operational ACTUV won't have a manual helm station that could be seized. As for towing it, establishing a tow on a vessel which is cooperating is hard enough. Lassoing a vessel which is actively maneuvering against you is, well, unlikely.
So disable it and tow it. Shoot it or use a helicopter to land a team on it to disable it. And unless the thing is outfitted with 360 camera/IIR coverage, complete with real-time control (which can be jammed) it won't be actively maneuvering against anybody.
 

TomS

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Shooting at another government's assets, even unmanned ones, is a hostile action. In wartime or near wartime, it could happen, but PLAN surface ships won't be loose in mid-ocean without their own shadows in such an event. In peacetime, it would be a huge provocation.

As for maneuvering and boarding, it's a safe bet that the ACTUV will maneuver to avoid being boarded by another surface ship, for legal reasons. It has to do so to observe the International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS). A boarding attempt would look exactly like a potential collision as far as the vessel's navigational system is concerned. If it can't avoid collisions autonomously, it can't be let loose on the high seas. Even if it's technically the stand-on vessel, the vessel has to maneuver in extremis to avoid collisions.
 

marauder2048

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A smaller version delivered (and recovered) by amphibian (say US-2) or a Hybrid Airship might solve some of the kidnapping problems. Though I suspect a smaller version couldn't meet ACTUV's 30-day loiter followed by a 30-day maximum energy trail req.

From a RAND study (attached):

Vulnerability of the USV. It is unclear how the USV could defend itself and continue to operate in the face of possible air
strikes, deliberate ramming by another vessel, electronic warfare, or other forms of attack. DARPA has countered this criticism
with the observation that the USV could be “the canary in the coal mine” that warns of impending hostilities
Emphasis in the original.
 

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DrRansom

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The issue I see with treating the ACTUV as a 'canary in the coalmine' is that I suspect China and Russia will treat bumping the ACTUV off a sub as a routine maneuver, akin to the US suppressing any submarines near a SSBN base.

The ship could be disabled via ramming, no need to start shooting.-
 

NeilChapman

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Carbon fiber. Pretty shallow draft. Nice low, rounded and streamlined deck to minimize windage. U-shaped aft hull to reduce pitching. Very slippery. Probably just a itty-bitty blip on radar. Popular Mechanics reported speed trials at 27 kts. Shouldn't need much for engines to run around at those speeds.

Would it be worth fitting an autonomous celestial navigation system should satellite GPS not be available?

I had the impression that the sonar extended below the hull. This picture doesn't show it. Perhaps it mechanically retracts?

Did I understand correctly that it will be deployed for 60-90 days?

http://dau.dodlive.mil/2015/12/28/maritime-autonomy-reducing-the-risk-in-a-high-risk-program/

I think it's a great idea. We'll learn quite a lot during it's two years of sea trials.
 

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sferrin

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TomS said:
Shooting at another government's assets, even unmanned ones, is a hostile action.
So ram it. Hell, China has no problem attempting to ram SURTASS ships or cruisers, this will be a walk in the park with no repercussions.
 

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http://repository.jmls.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1785&context=jitpl

Interesting paper that discusses autonomy of military robots - includes mention of ACTUV and other programs
 

TomS

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sferrin said:
TomS said:
Shooting at another government's assets, even unmanned ones, is a hostile action.
So ram it. Hell, China has no problem attempting to ram SURTASS ships or cruisers, this will be a walk in the park with no repercussions.
On rare occasions, and it doesn't seem to stop those ships from actually accomplishing their missions.
 

sferrin

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TomS said:
sferrin said:
TomS said:
Shooting at another government's assets, even unmanned ones, is a hostile action.
So ram it. Hell, China has no problem attempting to ram SURTASS ships or cruisers, this will be a walk in the park with no repercussions.
On rare occasions, and it doesn't seem to stop those ships from actually accomplishing their missions.
But they're manned and could fight back. Seriously, if they have one of these trawling around the South China Sea, and China complains (and they will but they'll cite "safety concerns" and "escalation") we'll either, 1. leave, or 2. get rammed by China and then leave. Just remember you heard it here first. ;)
 

phil gollin

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I do not believe that this is an ASW ship - it doesn't have the size for proper silencing, and not enough power or space for decent sensors.

HOWEVER, it would seem to be an excellent design for coastal warfare - spy drone, nuisance drone, ELINT drone ? It seems suitable for all. My favourite would be to drop off sensors outside enemy ports.

Those outriggers should give good stability in rough coastal waters.
 

TomS

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And yet, every description is consistent that it is an ASW asset. And they're pretty clear on how it functions -- it's cued by "wide area" assets (sea-bottom sensors, MPA, towed arrays on other ships, etc.), then uses a combination of MF and HF sonar to detect and classify the target. That external cueing is the key -- its own sensors don't have to find targets at very long range, just hold the contact once it gets close.

http://defense-update.com/20130101_saic_develops_an_unmanned_submarine_hunter.html#.U9rbUsJ0wdV
 

Volkodav

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I suppose the answer to ramming is to rig them with a warhead so at the push of a button they could be armed, perhaps even with a strobe light, warning siren and a pre-recorded message, "back off or boom!" During hostilities they could be programed to actively ram attacking vessels and send to the bottom, an expensive guided weapon I know but if you are going to lose it anyway why not?
 

TomS

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I'm reading more about the CONOPS for these units, and it appears that they won't be operating on the high seas alone with no other fleet units around. They'll be in direct contact with other ships, so if someone comes out to menace them, the rest of the fleet will be there to support.
 

bring_it_on

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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CEBm2cKJOI
 

fredymac

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You would think they would pre-cut the Christening bottles so they would shatter easy. Until a Russian billionaire builds a lookalike yacht it won't be cool.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sHpGFbv_06E
 

Moose

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Champagne is under pressure, pre-cutting the bottles would risk the bottle bursting well before it gets to the ship's prow. Besides, watching the sponsor take multiple swings at it is part of the tradition by now.
 

bobbymike

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Cool :D

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/602718/darpas-autonomous-ship-is-patrolling-the-seas-with-a-parasailing-radar/?utm_campaign=socialflow&utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=post
 

bring_it_on

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DARPA's Sea Hunter to begin COLREGS testing in January 2017

Commencing in January 2017 DARPA will begin collecting data on how its Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) conducts fully autonomous operations in preparation for international certification.Additionally, ASW track and trail testing of ACTUV could be delayed beyond fiscal year (FY) 2018.

ACTUV, now referred to as Sea Hunter, will begin the lengthy International Regulations for Preventing Collisions at Sea (COLREGS) certification process, an important step in determining whether the large unmanned surface vessel (USV) is a viable solution for conducting extended ASW missions.

COLREGS is a "threshold capability that is important for any large USV that will be operated at long distances from a human operator", explained Scott Littlefield, programme manager for DARPA's ACTUV programme.

"It is the rules of the road at sea," Littlefield told attendees at the annual AUVSI Unmanned Systems Defense maritime day, held on 24 October in Arlington, Virginia.

Sea Hunter is a 132-ft trimaran built by Leidos. The vessel was initially designed to autonomously track submarines for periods of weeks to months.

DARPA did not want ACTUV to be a remote-controlled vessel, particularly because of the reliability, latency and bandwidth issues associated with satellite communications, which would be used to control the vessel.

"You can't make that your achilles heel," Littlefield said. "You need something where if you lose communications with a remote operator it will continue to operate in a safe manner and complete the mission." For that capability, COLREGS is an enabler, he added.

COLREGS is also key to the concept of low manning because the platform can now go to Sparse Supervisory Control where one or two watchstanders could keep track of a fairly large number of Sea Hunters, Littlefield said.

"Because when they are out at sea in normal circumstances they are not required to have continuous interaction with an operator," he said.

Because COLREGS is such an important part of the Sea Hunter programme, DARPA didn't want to wait until they had a full scale prototype on the water to begin working on the capability, Littlefield noted.

DARPA developed algorithms for Sea Hunter autonomous operations and tested them in a system integration lab before very quickly taking them out to sea on a surrogate vessel, which has the same sensor, software, and computing plant as the full-scale Sea Hunter prototype.

"By doing that we were able to find out pretty quickly whether our COLREGS algorithms were working or not," Littlefield said. "[We are] at a point now that we feel comfortable that COLREGS is a solvable problem."

To achieve COLREGS there are a few things that have to be done, Littlefield noted.

Developers need to create a comprehensive world model of potential contacts, "because you can't avoid a contact you did not see", he said.

"It is not just about contacts but about classifying those contacts. For example, in COREGS, it matters whether the other vessel is a powered vessel or sailboat," Littlefield added. "So we are investing in some autonomous approaches for doing vessel classification and doing EO/IR [electro optical infrared] without having a human in the loop."

Another critical piece that applies to the long-term transition to this technology is developing a test and evaluation strategy.

Littlefield noted that Sea Hunter will never be able to conduct enough actual at-sea test hours to develop the statistical confidence in its ability to operate autonomously as effectively as a human operator.

"How much testing, how much evidence do you need [before you] say, OK it is good enough, we are ready to certify it is safe for operation," Littlefield said. "That is a hard problem. The way we will get to that is through some combination of modelling and simulation and actual at-sea testing."

Modelling and simulation can provide potentially millions of virtual hours at sea but researchers will still need to do the actual at-sea testing as part of the validation process.

"We are working through that right now. That will be a continuing challenge as this programme goes forward and becomes a navy programme," Littlefield said.

On a good day at sea DARPA can maybe set up four COLREGS scenarios, Littlefield noted. So in a week he estimates researchers can get 16 data points at a cost of USD10,000 per data point.

"So if you want to get statistics on hundreds of thousands of runs we can't get there from here with at-sea testing," Littlefield said.

DARPA has worked through a lot of basic testing on the full scale prototype.

Beginning in January, DARPA will begin collecting a lot more COLREGS data as it takes Sea Hunter out to sea for a week or two at a time, for almost every month through 2017, Littlefield said.

"We have a robust programme in place to continue to improve the COLREGS capability," he said.

FY 2017 is the last year of DARPA funding for Sea Hunter. Sometime during the fiscal year Littlefield will hand the keys to the US Navy's Office of Naval Research (ONR), which will take over the testing phase through FY 2018, a period that includes COLREGS, EO/IR sensors, and a few additional payloads, including for mine countermeasures (MCM) and anti-submarine warfare (ASW).

ASW testing for Sea Hunter will come under the auspices of ONR. Littlefield noted that testing may not complete by the end of FY 2018 due to schedule and funding issues.

"The flipside is, some of the payloads the navy is interested in are not ASW, so we have accelerated some of those and [are] putting ASW off until the navy gets around to it," he said. "Additional missions and payloads are already funded and there are a lot of other things we could do with this platform."While it will be up to the USN to decide whether or not to transition Sea Hunter into the fleet, there are some things Littlefield noted as important for the navy to get started on fairly soon.

For example, developing standards and policies for unmanned operations to provide a body of evidence to enable Naval Sea Systems Command or another command to declare that Sea Hunter is certified to go unmanned.

Another area is command and control (C2) of Sea Hunter. If the USV is launched and recovered from a vessel, the commanding officer of that ship would oversee the platform. But Sea Hunter will likely deploy more often from pier side; and while it might operate with a battlegroup it could also work independently. The navy will have to determine in those instances who Sea Hunter would report to and work for.

The only payload DARPA has demonstrated to date with Sea Hunter is a prototype of a low-cost, elevated sensor mast developed through the Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems (TALONS) research effort. TALONS is a towed parafoil designed to provide an ISR capability or communications relay payload at up to 1,500 ft above a ship. At that altitude, TALONS would extend a ship's view to about 40 miles.
 

marauder2048

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TALONS is a towed parafoil designed to provide an ISR capability or communications relay payload at up to 1,500 ft above a ship.
At that altitude, TALONS would extend a ship's view to about 40 miles.
40 (nautical) miles is the optical horizon; the RF horizon would be longer. TALONS really should be standard equipment on all surface ships.
 

Moose

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marauder2048 said:
TALONS is a towed parafoil designed to provide an ISR capability or communications relay payload at up to 1,500 ft above a ship.
At that altitude, TALONS would extend a ship's view to about 40 miles.
40 (nautical) miles is the optical horizon; the RF horizon would be longer. TALONS really should be standard equipment on all surface ships.
Likely such equipment will be, early days yet
 

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It's not without limitations. Flying something like TALONS js going to limit ship maneuverability similarly to a towed sonar. And obviously play hell with helicopter operations. So it's likely to end up on specialized platforms, not every ship.
 

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TomS said:
It's not without limitations. Flying something like TALONS js going to limit ship maneuverability similarly to a towed sonar. And obviously play hell with helicopter operations. So it's likely to end up on specialized platforms, not every ship.
Depending on ship impact, I can see it being capable of being fitted to most ships - dedicated aviation ships would have issues, for example - and deployed as dictated by the tactical situation. Loads would be less than for a TAS, dictated simply by the fluid in which it operates, so it's more likely to be a question of available space than manoeuvrability (though that will be an issue).
 

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For ship defence any additional warning time allows the best option to employ weapon's and tactics,IE what could
f the USS Stark team could of done with extra 30 seconds?
 

bobbymike

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http://www.scout.com/military/warrior/story/1729288-darpa-accelerates-sub-hunting-drone-ship
 

sferrin

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moonbeamsts said:
For ship defence any additional warning time allows the best option to employ weapon's and tactics,IE what could
f the USS Stark team could of done with extra 30 seconds?

Turned on the Phalanx? (Though given that Murphy seems to be the Patron Saint of the USN it probably takes 20 minutes to warm up.)
 

TomS

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Phalanx was on, just in manual mode. What needed to happen was for them to actually detect a launch, which they did not (neither did he AWACS nearby). If they'd known that missiles were in flight, CIWS would probably have been put in auto and they would have had a chance. Arming the SRBOC would have also helped, but again only if they knew to deploy it.
 

sferrin

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TomS said:
Phalanx was on, just in manual mode. What needed to happen was for them to actually detect a launch, which they did not (neither did he AWACS nearby). If they'd known that missiles were in flight, CIWS would probably have been put in auto and they would have had a chance. Arming the SRBOC would have also helped, but again only if they knew to deploy it.
Any idea why AWACS didn't detect the incoming missile? (Or why the frigate's own radar didn't?)
 

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bobbymike

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https://www.popularmechanics.com/military/navy-ships/a16573306/navy-accept-delivery-actuv-sea-hunter/
 

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