Unmanned underwater vehicle demand soaring as experiments turn to manufacture, says GlobalData

Advanced navies are expanding their range of unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) due to their enhanced autonomous mine countermeasure (MCM) capabilities and the distributed fleet structure initiatives undertaken by the US, China, Russia, the UK and France, according to GlobalData, a leading data and analytics company.

GlobalData’s latest report, ‘Thematic Research: Unmanned Underwater Vehicles’, reveals that a significant number of experiments with UUVs over the years have transitioned into procurement/manufacture programs.

Captain Nurettin Sevi (Rtd.), Turkish Navy, Defense Analyst at GlobalData, comments: “There are still many UUV programs, especially for larger units, under development and technology demonstration. Use of unmanned systems in naval applications is increasing day by day, and is expected to continue to grow in the future.”

As UUVs can be operated much more efficiently, cost-effectively and safely than manned platforms and divers, several navies are currently procuring UUVs for mine laying and MMC missions. For example, REMUS UUV is used to clear mines in one square mile within 16 hours, while divers would need more than 21 days to perform the same task. Many countries are taking advantage of this aspect of UUVs, including the US, the UK, France, Russia, South Korea and China. In addition to non-lethal assignments, advanced navies are also developing larger UUVs to accommodate them in their future force structures.

Sevi added: “UUVs are playing supportive roles now, but they could be force multipliers at Naval operations as they grow in size and capability. Integrating AI technology would help these vehicles perform more sophisticated missions by overcoming the limited and poor underwater communication barrier, which limits simultaneous interaction with other systems and platforms.

“Today’s UUVs offer an improvement in operation time and safety, greater flexibility of use, more efficient power systems and lower implementation and sustainability costs. Moreover, large-sized UUVs generally have switchable and modular mission payload suites; and can, therefore, perform multi-mission by changing modules. Collective advances in technology allow these vehicles to execute more complex operations, with increased autonomy and their own support packages.”

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