UAE-based unmanned air vehicle (UAV) specialist ADCOM Systems (Stand OA-003) has unveiled an antisubmarine warfare (ASW) variant of its United-40 Medium Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) UAV. Developed in co-operation with Finmeccanica (Stand 06-A03) company Whitehead Alenia Sistemi Subacquei (WASS), the United-40 Block 6 has been developed so as to be able to carry and deploy sonobuoys, plus a single lightweight torpedo.
ADCOM and WASS signed a letter of intent to co-develop an ASW-optimised MALE UAV in late 2013.
Since then, they have been working to mature their United-40 Block 6 concept, leading to the unveiling of a first full-scale version at the show.
According to ADCOM Systems, the United-40 Block 6 UAV can be used to lay a barrier of sonobuoys, and then continue to loiter in the area for up to 16 hours with its torpedo armament.
Sonobuoy pre-processing – employing proven multi-static techniques – would be performed on board the UAV, with acoustic data then shared via link to co-operating units.
Alternatively, a group of UAVs could operate together to create a larger field of sonobuoys. Cooperative operations could also be performed with maritime patrol aircraft and ASW helicopters equipped with active dipping sonars.
One other option postulated by ADCOM and WASS is for the United-40 Block 6 UAV to be used as a dedicated weapon-carrier, thus allowing helicopters and MPAs to carry more fuel and hence extend time on station.
Such an approach would increase the range at which submarine threats could be engaged. Furthermore, given the potential proliferation of submarine self-defence missile systems in the coming years, the use of a UAV to drop a torpedo in the target vicinity would enable manned airborne ASW platforms to remain at a safe range outside.
ADCOM and WASS are working to advance the electronic and mechanical integration of the ASW payloads, including drop testing from the United-40 platform. This is planned to culminate later this year with a torpedo drop test demonstration for the UAE Naval Forces.