Bluefin-21 launches multiple SandSharks
The Bluefin-21 autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) successfully launched multiple Bluefin SandShark micro-autonomous underwater vehicles (M-AUVs) during capability demonstrations at a US Navy-sponsored event, General Dynamics announced on 9 September.
The demonstrations took place at the 2016 Annual Naval Technology Exercises (ANTX) in Newport, Rhode Island.
SandShark M-AUVs surfaced and operated independently of the larger Bluefin-21 during the exercise. In one mission scenario, the Bluefin-21 simulated data collection as well as target imagery and information transfer to two SandSharks, which then surfaced and communicated with a Blackwing UAV.
The Blackwing then relayed the information to a submarine combat control system ashore for decision-making and sunsequent command of the SandShark M-AUVs.
A separate demonstration saw the Bluefin-21 carry acoustic sensors provided by academia and industry. This system-of-systems approach utilised Bluefin-21's larger payload capacity and longer endurance to deliver smaller payloads such as sensors, UAVs and smaller AUVs.
The Bluefin-21 is a modular AUV that can carry and launch various AUVs. It can be reconfigured for various missions with payloads such as communications nodes and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance sensors. It serves as the basis for the navy's Knifefish surface mine countermeasure unmanned underwater vehicle.
The SandShark M-AUV weighs around 15lbs without sensors, and can be used for sea-floor mapping, imaging, mine countermeasures and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
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