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Air Platforms

Lockheed Martin conducts UAV launch from UUV

29 September 2016

Lockheed Martin deployed its maritime, canister-launched Vector Hawk unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) from the Marlin MK2 unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) during a US Navy exercise in August, the company announced on 28 September.

Lockheed Martin successfully launched Vector Hawk (left), a small UAV, on command from the Marlin MK2 UUV (right), during a cross-domain C2 event hosted by the USN. (Lockheed Martin)Lockheed Martin successfully launched Vector Hawk (left), a small UAV, on command from the Marlin MK2 UUV (right), during a cross-domain C2 event hosted by the USN. (Lockheed Martin)

This year's Annual Navy Technology Exercise (ANTX) called for demonstrations of cross-domain command and control (C2), Doug Prince, business development director for unmanned underwater systems at Lockheed Martin, told IHS Jane's.

In response to a request for information six months earlier, the company put together the demonstration of communication between the Marlin, the Vector Hawk, and the Submaran unmanned surface vehicle (USV) developed by Ocean Aero.

"We showed that an unmanned aircraft, surface vessel, and undersea vehicle can communicate and complete a mission autonomously," said Prince.

During the three-day ANTX, the Submaran relayed instructions to Marlin from a ground control station via underwater acoustic communications. Marlin then launched the Vector Hawk from a canister.

The aircraft conducted line-of-sight communications with the sea-based assets. It flew sorties ranging from 20 to 60 minutes using Lockheed Martin's integrated electro-optic/infrared (EO/IR) Perceptor payload. Perceptor features a 10 megapixel EO camera, a 640x480 long-wave IR camera, and a laser illuminator. It was transmitting both EO and IR video during the activities, Prince said.

"The navy expressed interest in this kind of interoperability, so we put together the demonstration in six months," he added.

The manpackable Vector Hawk can be both hand-launched and canister-launched in maritime environments to provide a surveillance capability. Vector Hawk is also capable of fully autonomous flight and landing. It can fly for around 70 minutes in its current configuration, according to Lockheed Martin.

Marlin MK2 is a battery-powered, 10 ft-long, fully autonomous UUV with a 250 lb (113 kg) payload capacity, 18-24 hour endurance, and a depth rating of 1,000 ft. During the ANTX event, Marlin surveyed a sunken barge with its 3-D imaging sonar.

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