The Navy is moving ahead with plans to deploy small drones from submarines and undersea robotic vehicles, further advancing the military’s push toward autonomous weapons systems. Underwater-launched drones have been tested for at least a decade by the Navy and U.S. Special Operations Command. After experimenting with several vehicles, the Navy selected the “Blackwing” miniature tube-launched unmanned aircraft and will begin deploying them from manned submarines and from underwater robots, Blackwing manufacturer AeroVironment announced May 16.The drone can be launched from fully submerged undersea platforms, including attack and guided missile submarines, and unmanned underwater vehicles.The Blackwing is an offshoot of the company’s Switchblade miniature kamikaze missile that AeroVironment has produced for U.S. ground forces. The California-based company developed the Blackwing under a 2013 Navy and U.S. SOCOM sponsored technology demonstration called “advanced weapons enhanced by submarine UAS against mobile targets.”
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