Elbit Systems today unveiled its latest unmanned system – the Seagull autonomous, modular, multi-mission Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV). The company will publicly display its new USV at the upcoming Singapore Airshow.
The USV utilizes a specially designed 12-meter platform made of aluminum or composites. The boat can be disassembled and carried in three containers on board larger vessels, and assembled at sea for specific missions. Anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and Mine-Countermeasures (MCM) operations are two of the missions envisioned for the new unmanned boat. Seagull vessels are designed to operate in pairs, controlled via a single Mission Control System (MCS), mounted on a mothership or on shore. The same MCS can also control unmanned aerial systems that can also participate in the mission, with the robots operating both on the surface and underwater.
Seagull provides unmanned end-to-end mine-hunting operation, taking the man out of the minefield. The system supports on-line operation in both known and unknown areas, conducting area surveys, search, detection, classification, identification, neutralization and verification. It also provides mission planning. It is equipped to search the entire water volume and to operate underwater vehicles to identify and neutralize mines. The small vessel can operate a number of sonars, including forward looking sonars, multi-beam echo sounders, side-scan and synthetic-aperture or dipping sonars, diver-detection sonars, Remotely-Operated Vehicles (ROV), and expendable mine-disposal vehicles.
In a two-vessel configuration, one Seagull could scan for mines, using its sonars, while the second could identify and defeat the detected mines using the ROV and remotely-controlled mine-neutralization weapons. Each boat also carries a communications and datalink system, a radar transceiver, a stabilized EO/IR sensor pod, and a remotely-controlled weapon station mounting a 12.7 mm machine gun, other, diverse neutralization weapons, and an optional launch tube for an anti-submarine torpedo.
“The Seagull multi-mission USV system offers navies a true force-multiplier by reducing risk, cost and manpower requirements, and performing missions which have only been performed to date by costly manned assets,” said Ofer Ben Dov, VP for Unmanned Naval Systems at Elbit Systems Intelligence and ISR Division. “The Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capability provides the navy with a significant tactical advantage by effectively deterring and threatening enemy submarines, using an available asset with significantly lower risk.
“Seagull changes the dynamics of anti-submarine operations by creating a threat to submarines using a cost-effective and available asset, replacing and augmenting manned assets with minimal threat from submarines,” Ben-Dov added. “It empowers a surface vessel or naval base commander with off-board, available and rapidly-deployable Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capabilities to protect critical sea areas and high-value assets from both submarine and sea-mine threats.”
Seagull features robust, modular, mission-payload suites, selected to enable a variety of required missions including EW, surface-force protection and hydrographical missions, in addition to the core MCM and ASW missions. Inherent C4I networking capability also supports enhanced situation awareness.
Seagull is powered by two diesel engines driving two propellers; it can remain at sea for over four days, surviving sea state up to 7 with autonomous operation. The highly-autonomous and safe-sailing suite includes a patented Autonomous Navigation System (ANS), with obstacle avoidance, which conforms with international regulations for preventing collisions at sea. The boat can zero-turn using two lateral thrusters that also function in precision station keeping necessary for the ROV operation. Operator control is performed either via satellite communications (SATCOM) or by conventional, line-of-sight apparatus.