Navy Developing Unmanned Subsea Platform Program

MarineLink.com
Wednesday, August 28, 2013
Hydra System: Image courtesy of DARPA

US Navy's DARPA has initiated the Hydra program aimed to develop a distributed undersea network of unmanned payloads and platforms to complement manned vessels. Input of technical ideas and proposals is invited.

The system would integrate existing and emerging technologies in new ways to create an alternate means of delivering various capabilities above, on and below the ocean’s surface. The goal is to create a force multiplier that enables rapid, scalable and cost-effective deployment of assets close to the point of use.

Key to the effort is the development of modular payloads that would provide key capabilities, including Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) and Mine Counter-Measures (MCM). Each payload module would plug into a standardized enclosure that would securely transport, house and launch various payloads, while sustaining payload functionality for weeks to months.

The Hydra system would emphasize scalability, rapid reconfiguration and maximization of payload. Ships, submarines or airplanes could deliver the Hydra system to littoral ocean zones (shallow international waters near shorelines).

Hydra’s communications suite would work synergistically with manned platforms, increasing their effectiveness. It would also enable remote control from over-the-horizon significantly increasing operational reach. Additionally, Hydra would enable other new capabilities not currently performed by manned platforms, such as forward-deployed airborne ISR with expendable platforms or recharging hubs for ISR-capable undersea vehicles.

DARPA is seeking ideas and technical proposals for how to best develop and implement the Hydra system.The DARPA Special Notice describing the specific capabilities the program seeks is available at:  http://go.usa.gov/jBr5

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