DSEI 2017

On the unmanned stage [DSEI17D1]

12 September 2017

BAE Systems (Stand S3-110) and ASV Global (Stand S2-364) are charting a n ew course for the DSEI dynamic waterborne display with the first demonstration of an unmanned surface vessel (USV) without safety crew.

The P950 autonomous rigid inflatable boat (RIB) demonstrator, which was successfully trialled during last year’s Unmanned Warrior 2016 exercise, will perform twice daily as part of Operation MARCAP.

The MARCAP scenario will simulate a maritime interdiction operation culminating in the boarding of a suspect vessel by Royal Marines.

Based on a Pacific 950 RIB, the 9.5m P950 USV is equipped for maritime surveillance and reconnaissance missions. Its mission fit includes a Navico Simrad 4G radar, automatic identification system, a Chess Dynamics Octopus electrooptical suite − comprising a Sea Eagle compact EO turret and a 360° panoramic camera array − and an LRAD Corporation Long Range Acoustic Device. The P950 will be controlled using ASV’s own ASView command and control system.

‘‘The P950 will be providing precursor surveillance as part of the Operation MARCAP vignette,’’ Mike Woods, BAE Systems’ chief technologist, told DSEI Daily. ‘‘Although we previously participated in Unmanned Warrior, DSEI will provide us with an opportunity to showcase the craft’s capabilities to a wider community. He added: ‘‘While USVs have previously been demonstrated at DSEI, craft were not permitted to operate in a truly unmanned mode.

The demonstration of the P950 under remote control, without safety crew on board, shows the level of confidence that now exists in the system.’’

Building on the P950 pedigree, BAE Systems − again working with ASV − is set to kick off the private venture development of a next-generation USV system known as Sea Fury.

‘‘The programme has three main aims,’’ said Woods. ‘‘First to embody a significant level of autonomy such that the system can be set very high-level goals.

Second, to address issues germane to a force protection role, such as legal issues, escalation of force protocols and rules of engagement, and third, to engineer the transition from the technology demonstration domain to a compelling war-fighting capability.’’

The Sea Fury programme will initially utilise the existing P950 demonstrator. ‘‘In the longer term, the plan is to scale up to a vessel of about 20m,’’ he added.

As part of the Sea Fury initiative, ASV will exploit advanced autonomy previously developed with the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl).

‘‘We’ve bought the exclusive licence to that technology,’’ said Vince Dobbin, ASV’s sales and marketing director, ‘‘and will be looking to introduce it into Sea Fury.’’

(417 words)