Thursday, March 31, 2016

Sea Hunter - Drones of the Sea

It is no surprise that China’s military has been growing over the last 5-10 years. This increase in force size has been projected into the South China Sea and been a major headline for the last few years. The interesting aspect of China’s increased force size is the composition. For example, China has focused on growing their attack submarines. China now operates a greater number of attack subs than the U.S. Navy. However, while they outmatch us in force size, the quality of these subs is still lacking compared to the U.S. counterparts. Additionally, projections say that within the Asia Pacific region, China will operate around 80 subs while the U.S. will operate 30.

How will the U.S. combat this increased sub force size by China? Turning to DARPA, the U.S. Navy has adopted the Sea Hunter, a trimaran drone built from carbon composite. This lightweight fast moving design allows the Sea Hunter to keep pace with quicker subs and an array of sensory technology will allow for detection in different environments.

Once the Sea Hunter locks on to an enemy sub it will track it. The connection via satellite allows for real time information to be shared through the command structure allowing for a better visualization of the battlefield. Additionally, the Sea Hunter is an economical choice for the future of sub hunting. While a diesel submarine costs roughly $400 million, the Sea Hunter costs around $40 million. The Navy is looking toward the future as they look to build a new force and the Sea Hunter will play a major part in this. DARPA’s Sea Hunter’s price and technology make it a great fit for the current military dynamic the U.S. faces.

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