Israel Aerospace Industries has showcased an Israeli-developed unmanned submarine designed for covert intelligence-gathering, submarine detection, and acoustic intelligence collection.
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The newly announced BlueWhale large autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) uses radar and electro-optical systems, towed and flank array sonar, as well as a telescopic mast to detect sea and coastal targets.
The AUV is able to transmit gathered data in real time via a satellite communications antenna on the mast.
Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) vice-president and ELTA chief executive officer Yoav Tourgeman said the large AUV has already successfully conducted thousands of hours of submerged and autonomous operation.
“BlueWhale joins the family of land, sea, and space-based unmanned platforms, developed by IAI, and represents a force multiplier for submarine fleets,” he said.
“Based on its advanced engineering capabilities, IAI’s Elta Group has, for the first time in the world, managed to bring to maturity to the development and production of an autonomous underwater system able to perform a wide range of tasks.
“BlueWhale is a significant member of IAI’s family of maritime products, which include solutions for use in Economic Exclusion Zones, tools for managing autonomous vessels, and their integration in monitoring the maritime arena.”
The BlueWhale also features dedicated sonar for detection of both manned and unmanned submarines, and mapping of naval mines on the seabed using a dedicated synthetic aperture sonar. It’s also able to operate for periods of several weeks, at minimal cost and maintenance, without the need for operators on board.