DARPA's ACTUV sails with TALONS
DARPA's Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) has sailed with a prototype sensor mast developed under its Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems (TALONS) research project, it announced on 24 October.
The elevated sensor mast payload is designed to be towed behind vessels. It uses a parachute to rise to an altitude between 500 and 1,500ft and carries ISR and communications payloads of up to 150lbs. From its elevated position the payload greatly expands the host vessel’s sensor and communication radio range.
In the ACTUV testing, two 90 minute flights were conducted using the Talon prototype over two days. The system rose to an altitude of 1,000ft and tested its onboard sensors before reeling itself back in to its ‘nest’ on board the ACTUV vehicle.
According to DARPA, TALONS demonstrated significant capability improvements over vessel-mounted sensors. Its surface-track radar extended its range by 500 percent—six times—compared to its range at sea level; and its electro-optical/infrared scanner doubled its observed discrimination range. The range of a commercial handheld omnidirectional radio more than tripled.
Organisations involved in the demonstration include Maritime Applied Physics Corporation and the Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock Division (NSWCC) for TALONS, and the US Navy Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command-Pacific (SSC-PAC) and Leidos for ACTUV.
TALONS is part of DARPA’s Phase 1 research for Tern, a joint programme between DARPA and the US Navy’s Office of Naval Research (ONR). DARPA will collaborate with ONR to fully test the capabilities of the vessel and several innovative payloads over the next two years. Pending the results of those tests, the programme could transition to the navy by 2018.
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