12 September 2016
The US Navy has successfully demonstrated the ability of the submarine-launched Blackwing UAS to link with a swarm of unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs) and communicate with the submarine's combat control system. The demo took place during the navy's Annual Naval Technology Exercise (ANTX) in August.
During the exercise the Blackwing UAS was used to provide communications relay for command and control. An AeroVironment-developed secure digital datalink called DDL, which was integrated into all Blackwing UAS, relayed real-time information from the surrogate submarine via the Blackwing to and from multiple UUVs.
Blackwing builds on AeroVironment’s Switchblade Lethal Miniature Aerial Missile System and its common DDL to provide the navy with a deployable submarine-launched UAS optimised for distributed anti-access/area denial environments.
The UAS is designed to provide intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance capabilities to submarine commanders as well as high-speed data and communication relay for command and control between geographically separated vessels such as surface ships, UUVs and manned submarines.
Kirk Flittie, AeroVironment vice president and general manager of its unmanned aircraft systems business segment, said: ‘Our Naval Undersea Warfare Center partners seek solutions for quickly and seamlessly linking the air and undersea domains to enhance warfighter capability.
'Blackwing delivers significant value to the undersea community, and we look forward to working closely with our partners to expand this powerful new capability to enable underwater vehicles and cross-domain interoperability.'