Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USV ) is a vehicle that operates at or near the sea surface and has no vehicle operators on board. The USV are increasingly employed as they collect data for longer periods of time, at a fraction of the cost of Research ships, and with wide ranging scientific and industrial applications – from monitoring marine life to military surveillance, piracy control, fisheries protection and the offshore gas, oil and renewables industries.
For Navies operating at or near the sea surface gives USVs the ability to perform continuous surveillance and communicating the dats with suitably-equipped surface, air and underwater assets. USV mission package are Mine Countermeasures (MCM) , Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) , Maritime Security , Surface Warfare (SUW) , Special Operations Forces (SOF) Support , Electronic Warfare (EW) and Maritime Interdiction Operations (MIO) Support.
Now militaries are developing Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USV ) which can fire missiles.
China has developed an autonomous boat that can conduct reconnaissance and fire up to four guided missiles, state-run media reported. State-run media reported that China test-fired the boat’s missiles in October.
The unmanned boat, Liaowangzhe-2, is the country’s first and second globally to fire a missile successfully. A remote-controlled unmanned ship of Israel’s “Protector” series successfully fired a missile during an exercise last year. The missiles have a range of up to 5 kilometers, project director Su Zhen told Global Times, but the boat’s real strengths are its stealth and its 45-knot speed. Su also said a human would make any decisions to fire a missile, even when the boat was operating autonomously.
Israel’s Protector, which in March 2017 became the first unmanned boat to fire a missile, and which tested its capabilities against naval swarm threats with NATO. Israel recently discovered huge reservoirs of natural gas in the Mediterranean and these are threatened by the Hezbollah terror organization in Lebanon. This threat accelerated the development of advanced USVs by some Israeli defence companies. Rafael was the first to develop such a system. The company’s Protector USV last year proved its capability to launch Spike ER missiles.
According to Rafael, this new capability allows pin-point attack of land or naval targets, enabling safe vessel operation from a remote-controlled vessel, with no risk to the operating force.
Country’s first unmanned missile boat on display at Airshow China
China’s first unmanned missile boat that recently tested missile launch is on display at the 12th China International Aviation and Aerospace Exhibition (Airshow China) in Zhuhai, South China’s Guangdong province.
It is for the first time that Liaowangzhe-2 is shown to the public. It is jointly developed by Zhuhai-based shipping developer Oceanalpha, Xi’an Institute of Modern Control Technology and Huazhong Institute of Electro-Optics.
The unmanned boat is 7.5 meters long and 2.7 meters wide, having a tonnage of 3.7 tons and a maximum speed of 45 knots. It can sail about 310 nautical miles at a speed of 22 knots. It can be used in sea conditions leveled below rough, or waves below 2.5 meters high.
Liaowangzhe-2 is a reconnaissance and strike integrated unmanned vehicle, and it is equipped with a quadruple missile launcher in the front to launch four missiles with a maximum range of 5 kilometers under an image-aided terminal guidance system.
It can be used for patrol missions around islands and border waters, attacking medium and small targets on the sea and land. A group of such boats could also carry out disability strike on large targets.
The boat has different operation modes, such as fully autonomous, semi-autonomous and remote-controlled.
Israeli unmanned boats deliver firepower on the high seas
Protector is a 9 meter rigid hull inflatable USV built by Rafael Advanced Defense Systems. The craft carries a TOPLITE electro-optic surveillance and targeting system and is armed with a Mini Typhoon remote-controlled weapon station, carrying either a .50 cal or 7.62 mm machine gun or 40 mm grenade launcher. Ten of the 9 meter Protectors have been built.
In October 2012, Rafael publically unveiled an 11 meter variant of the USV at the Euronaval exhibition in Paris, France. The larger USV has been operational with an undisclosed customer for more than a year. Ten 11m Protectors were built. Also that month, the US Navy test-fired Spike ER Missiles.
The Protector can carry a variety of weapons and equipment, including a water cannon, electronic warfare systems for protection and escort of naval vessels, mine countermeasures equipment, the Toplite electro-optical long-range detection and tracking system, and Spike missiles – these can be launched in sea state 3 when waves are 0.5 to 1.5 meters high. It can also fit the Mini-Typhoon stabilized gun mount.