Russia’s fifth generation nuclear submarines will be armed with robots and underwater drones in addition to conventional weaponry. "The new [fifth] generation [of submarines] will be equipped with both contemporary weapons and those currently being developed,” Nikolay Novoselov, deputy CEO of the Malakhit design engineering bureau, told RIA-Novosti. “We’re talking about battle robots which can be released by the submarine, and a type of underwater drone,” he explained.
According to the designer, the robots would be disposable or returnable of military, surveillance or communications purpose. “They’ll be released by the submarine and stay offline before being remotely activated on command. It will give the submarine time to leave the area, with the drone staying in place to maintain a semblance that the submarine is still there,” he said.
Novoselov stressed that developing robots for submarines isn’t an exclusive Russian field, as “the whole world is moving in this direction.”
Russia is currently building three more fourth generation Yasen-class submarines, with three more contracted for 2015. Severodvinsk is the flagship of the Yasen-class submarines, which will become the backbone of the Russian Navy’s conventional submarine force. In addition to 533mm torpedoes, Yasen-class submarines can fire cruise missiles from its eight vertical launching systems. They can also carry Onyx and Kalibr supersonic anti-ship missiles.
USA also developing larger long duration autonomous underwater and surface drones
The ‘Large Displacement Unmanned Underwater Vehicle’ program has now been introduced by the Office of Naval Research to build prototype machines. The project will develop the critical technologies needed to enable UUVs to operate and survive in the littorals for 70+ days. The LDUUV is a pier- launched and recovered UUV (without the need for ship-launch or recovery) with the capability to transmit in the open ocean and conduct over-the-horizon missions in littoral waters. This system will enable the extension of Navy platform sensing capability over the horizon and extend its influence. The creation of this UUV is intended to act as a significant force multiplier for the US Navy and will help close Warfighter gaps in a cost-effective manner. Two technology areas have been identified as critical to achieving this goal. These areas are Autonomy and Endurance Technologies.
As per the Navy, the goal is to “…acquire, deliver, and maintain operationally effective Unmanned Maritime Systems (UMS) as fully functional and integrated systems for the war fighter, and to direct UMS experimentation and technology maturation to develop future UMS capability.”
In 2008, it was reported that foreign spies had been targeting the underwater drone fleet technology of the United States.
When foreign spies set their sights on America's secrets, many times they're not looking underground for secret bunkers or in the sky for massive spy blimps, but under the sea at the nation's low-profile underwater drone fleet.
According to some of the military's top counterintelligence analysts, in recent years there has been a significant increase in both old school spying and cyber operations, especially by unnamed East Asian nations, directed at gaining classified information on America's autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) in hopes of undercutting the U.S.'s "underseas battlespace dominance."
There have been some drone (air, surface and underwater) carrier designs made but so far none have been produced. The strategy seems to be to adapt and create drones for use by existing ships and submarines.