The US Navy has successfully demonstrated the use of AeroVironment's submarine-launched BLACKWING UAV to link with a swarm of unmanned undersea vehicles (UUV) and communicate with the submarine combat control system during the Annual Naval Technology Exercise (ANTX) on 16 August 2016.
Along with providing a new and unique intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capability to submarine commanders, the BLACKWING UAV can also provide high-speed data and communication relay for Command and Control (C2) between geographically separated vessels such as manned submarines, UUVs, and surface ships.
Deployed UUVs collect large quantities of data while conducting diverse missions ranging from mine-hunting to wide-area oceanographic sensing. During the ANTX exercise, an AeroVironment developed, government-owned, secure digital datalink called DDL, integrated into all BLACKWING UAVs, relayed real-time information from the surrogate manned submarine via the BLACKWING UAV to and from multiple UUVs.
BLACKWING builds on AeroVironment’s extensive development and operational experience with its SWITCHBLADE Lethal Miniature Aerial Missile System (LMAMS) and its common DDL to provide the Navy with a deployable submarine launched unmanned aircraft vehicle optimized for distributed Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) environments.
“Our Naval Undersea Warfare Center partners seek solutions for quickly and seamlessly linking the air and undersea domains to enhance warfighter capability. We successfully demonstrated the innovative utility of AeroVironment’s new BLACKWING UAV,” Kirk Flittie, AeroVironment vice president and general manager of AeroVironment Unmanned Aircraft Systems, explained. “BLACKWING delivers significant value to the undersea community, and we look forward to working closely with our partners to expand this powerful new capability to enable underwater vehicles and cross-domain interoperability. In addition to our Navy partners, we also thank our industry partner Sparton for their continued support on BLACKWING efforts.”