BAE Systems is developing a new type of depth charge designed for deployment from UAVs. This next-generation depth charge consists of a small metallic cylindrical container packing an explosive charge and a triggering mechanism that activates the blast at the designated depth. The explosion has a kill radius of 10 – 15 meters against divers and other soft targets (UUV, for example). The charges are contained in a small pod carried by unmanned aerial vehicles. They can be deployed in hover, or in horizontal flight motion, to achieve optimal coverage of the suspected target.
With a capacity of six depth charges the system can be carried as part of a mission payload on rotary-wing UAS securing a naval vessel protection zone and defending against swimmers or divers. The use of UAVs extends the effect of depth charges well beyond the close range achieved by throwing grenades or launching depth charges from the vessel or offshore platform.
The deployment of depth charges can be coordinated with input from diver alert systems or other underwater security systems that detect diver activity in the vicinity of the protected area.
BAE Systems displayed the new weapon at the Euronaval 2022 exhibition held this week in France. The weapon is in an advanced development phase and has already attracted customer interest, for its ability to enhance counter-diver security in coastal and shallow waters.