Video: DARPA fits out sub-hunting drone with parasailing sensor

DARPA’s unmanned anti-submarine warfare vessel that is currently undergoing open-water testing off the coast of California recently set sail with its first payload: a prototype of a low-cost, elevated sensor mast developed through the agency’s towed airborne lift of naval systems (TALONS) research effort.

TALONS is one of the potential mission payloads the vessel, developed under a program called ACTUV (Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel), might employ.

Towed behind boats or ships, TALONS could persistently carry intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR), and communications payloads of up to 150 pounds between 500 and 1,500 feet in altitude, many times higher than current ships’ masts, and greatly extend the equipment’s range and effectiveness, the research agency has said.

The demonstration took place over two days with 90 minutes of flight each day. The TALONS prototype started out from its “nest” installed on the back of the ACTUV vehicle. It then expanded its parachute and rose to an altitude of 1,000 feet, where it tested its onboard sensors and communications equipment.

Once the test was complete, the prototype reeled itself in back to the nest. The entire process took place as the ACTUV vehicle maneuvered at operationally realistic speeds.

According to DARPA, TALONS demonstrated improvements to the range of the sensors and radios it carried compared to mounting them directly on a surface vessel. For example, TALONS’ surface-track radar extended its range by 500 percent—six times—compared to its range at sea level. Its electro-optical/infrared scanner doubled its observed discrimination range. The TALONS team plugged in a commercial handheld omnidirectional radio; that radio’s range more than tripled.

“I was delighted to explore the possibility of hosting TALONS on ACTUV and from my perspective, the testing could not have gone better,” said Scott Littlefield, DARPA program manager for ACTUV. “We just started at-sea testing of ACTUV in June, and until now we’ve been focused on getting the basic ship systems to work. TALONS was our first chance to demonstrate hosting a real payload and showing the versatility of ACTUV to do a wide variety of missions for which it wasn’t originally designed.”

TALONS is part of DARPA’s Phase 1 research for Tern, a joint program between DARPA and the U.S. Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR). Now that at-sea demonstration is complete, DARPA is transitioning TALONS to the Navy.

In September 2014, DARPA signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with ONR to jointly fund an extended test phase of an ACTUV prototype. In April 2016, a christening ceremony in Portland, Oregon, marked the vessel’s formal transition from a DARPA-led design and construction project to open-water testing conducted jointly with ONR.

DARPA said it would collaborate with ONR to fully test the capabilities of the vessel and several innovative payloads over the next two years. Pending the results of those tests, the program could transition to the Navy by 2018.

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Sea-Air-Space 2018

Sea-Air-Space is now the largest maritime exposition in the U.S. and continues as an invaluable extension of the Navy League’s mission…

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Maritime Reconnaissance and Surveillance Technology 2017

Maximising Maritime Situational Awareness Capabilities for the Safety and Protection of International Waters

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After last year’s huge success the SMi Group is proud to announce the 2nd Maritime Reconnaissance and Surveillance Technology. The event will be held in Rome on the 30th and 31st of January 2017.

Based on the success of the 2016 conference, we aim to replicate and improve by providing a more regional focus, not just on the Mediterranean, but other areas of interest including the Black Sea and further beyond in the Asia Pacific region. All of which have keen collective interest on ensuring the safety and security of legitimate maritime activities.

This high level meeting will bring together senior military leadership, project decision makers, technical experts and cutting edge industry solution providers to explore future endeavours that will enhance the security and stability of the world’s oceans.

The 2017 programme will:

  • Provide a wider regional focus outside of the Mediterranean where challenges are also persistent
  • Feature high ranking military personnel involved with the enhancement of maritime surveillance platforms and systems
  • Present a running theme on the importance of information sharing as operations are increasingly conducted at an international level
  • Include Informal networking time to talk to peers and colleagues also shaping and influencing Maritime ISR programs today
  • Allow learning on how other nations are developing their maritime surveillance and reconnaissance provision from past experience and cutting edge research and development
  • Get to the heart of challenges faced by modern maritime forces such as capability gaps and what requirements they now have

HOST NATION KEYNOTE SPEAKERS:

  • Rear Admiral Giovanbattista Raimondi, Chief of C4 and Security Department, Italian Navy
  • Rear Admiral Nicola Carlone, Chief of Operations, Italian Coast Guard
  • Colonel Sergio Cavuoti, Chief of the Intelligence and Awareness Policy Branch of the Air Staff Aerospace Planning Division, Italian Air Force

REGIONAL EXPERT SPEAKERS:

  • Rear Admiral Enrico Credendino, EU Navfor Med Operation Commander, EU Naval Force
  • Commodore William Ellis, Commander CTF-67, US Naval Forces Europe
  • Captain Jan De Beurme, Chief of Staff, Belgian Navy
  • Captain Fernando Angelo, Director, Navy Intelligence Analysis Centre,  Portuguese Navy 
  • Wing Commander Richard Berry, P-8 Poseidon Program Manager, Royal Air Force
  • Commander Michael Sela, Head of C5I Branch in the R&D department, Israeli Navy
  • Commander Pasi Staff, Chief of Surveillance, Finnish Navy
  • Commander Hannes Schroeder-Lanz, Branch Chief C4ISR, Germany Navy
  • Guy Thomas, Director, C-SIGMA
  • Gerard O’Flynn, Head of SAR Ops, Irish Coast Guard
  • Leendert Bal, Head of Department C Operations, European Maritime Safety
  • Joachim Beckh, Technical Working Group Chair, MARSUR
  • Vice Admiral (Ret’d) Peter Hudson, Former Commander, NATO MARCOM

 

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Register online at: www.maritime-recon.com/navaltoday or email Justin Predescu on
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10th annual Border Security Conference

The 2017 conference will possibly be the most relevant and topical event to date as we enter our 10th successive year…

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Sea-Air-Space 2017

Sea-Air-Space is now the largest maritime exposition in the U.S. and continues as an invaluable extension of the Navy League’s mission…

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