Northrop Grumman has successfully demonstrated a new technology, which will allow weapons and vehicles to be released from submarines even if they were not originally designed for undersea use.
During the U.S. Navy's recent Silent Hammer exercise, a simulated unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) was successfully released from a submerged submarine to the sea surface using a low-cost, disposable encapsulation system.
The demonstration was conducted on board the USS Georgia off the southern coast of California. Developed by Northrop Grumman's Electronic Systems sector, the so-called Stealthy Affordable Capsule System, or SACS, is a modular encapsulation system that enables "non-marinized" UAVs and weapons to be launched from a submerged submarine.
Without such technology, weapons and vehicles must be specifically designed to withstand underwater conditions.
"We are very pleased with the demonstration's results," said Navy Capt. (SEL) David Duryea, Silent Hammer program manager, Naval Sea Systems Command.
"New technology demonstrated during the experiment will allow the U.S. Navy's submarine force to explore the feasibility of deploying an expanded set of weapons and UAVs, while significantly reducing the cost of developing ones specific for submarine use."
During the tests, Northrop Grumman successfully completed two commanded releases of the SACS from the submarine's missile tube and demonstrated the required capsule ascent and broach dynamics to launch a UAV from the surface.
Another key achievement was that the vehicles' environments were maintained during release and travel to the surface.
"This is a major milestone in the SACS program," said Randy Yates, Northrop Grumman's Silent Hammer program manager. "SACS offers long-term storage capability, variable release depth, as well as the ability to encapsulate off-the-shelf small and large non-marinized equipment.
Additionally, it provides the ability for UAVs to launch upon surface broach or to loiter before launch, increasing operational flexibility."
The demonstrations were conducted as part of the Navy's Silent Hammer sea trial, which evaluated the potential improvements to warfare capabilities offered by a clandestine sea base of networked undersea, surface, air and ground forces.
During the exercise, joint forces conducted intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance in coordinated strike operations against a simulated enemy force on land and in a littoral battle space.
Northrop Grumman initially developed SACS with internal research and development funds. Further development of SACS is being conducted under an agreement from Naval Sea Systems Command for the Submarine Payloads and Sensors program.
The company is a member of the Team 2020 Consortium that develops and demonstrates potential new technologies to maximize future submarine effectiveness.
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