Autonomous vehicles are likely to play increasing roles in resolving future conflicts, and General Dynamics Mission Systems ensured that its Bluefin-9 unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) would be considered as a serious military UUV, providing it with a complete redesign. Unveiled at the recent Oceans 2018 event in Charleston, S.C., the latest version of the UUV has been re-engineered for improved navigational accuracy and sonar resolution.
It has been dramatically improved compared to earlier versions because of enhanced manufacturing techniques to better serve defense, commercial, and academic customers with precision, underwater autonomous piloting and data gathering in a fraction of the time required by previous models. The UUV can be deployed and recovered from piers, rigid-hulled inflatable boats (RHIBs), or other vessels for ease of launching and recovering from almost any water access point.
The improved UUV includes a removable data storage module (RDSM) for storage of captured images, video, and sonar data. The module can be removed and accessed within minutes of recovering a Bluefin-9 UUV from a mission. The underwater vehicle is designed for mission endurance to eight hours at a speed of 3 knots; it can travel at speeds to 6 knots and dive to depths of 200 m. The Bluefin-9 features a modular design so that users can exchange the memory modular and/or the battery quickly to continue missions or data gathering.
“General Dynamics has invested in the redesigned Bluefin-9 and a broad team of engineering experts has made significant improvements to the design, production quality, modularity, and reliability of the entire Bluefin Robotics product family to deliver cost-effective UUVs with more mission capability and range,” said Carlo Zaffanella, a vice president and general manager at the company. “We are proud to introduce this first product of a new generation of UUVs, designed to meet the dynamic operational challenges of our defense and commercial customers.” The Bluefin-9 is supplied with an 18-month product warranty.