October 16, 2016 via -
Unmanned submersibles could provide a low-cost alternative to manned platforms for missions that are particularly dangerous, like minesweeping, or for mission that are tedious, like patrolling. UUVs, particularly those envisioned by DARPA, could also be a way to assert military presence in an area that is difficult to reach or geopolitically contentious. Like the minesweeper concepts, UUV platforms could be built into the capabilities of existing manned platforms like the Littoral Combat Ship or submarines. Alternatively, larger UUVs may be deployed from ports and conduct missions independent from manned ships.
However, as a 2009 RAND study of UUV systems pointed out, some of the Navy’s proposed UUV missions were not practicable and remain out of reach. Issues with reliability, specifically within the realms of power systems and underwater communications, suggested to the RAND researchers that the technology was not quite mature enough. The controversy over the Remote Minehunting System is one example of how the Navy has struggled to develop an adequate countermine alternative to minesweepers and to successfully sell UUV technology to lawmakers on Capitol Hill. While UUVs present significant advantages in terms of cost and safety over manned platforms, it will be some years before UUVs are accepted into the fleet.