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Video: DARPA Sea Hunter Parasail Tests

The following is a DARPA video of the Sea Hunter Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV) during open-water testing off the coast of California and recently set sail with its first payload: a prototype of a low-cost, elevated sensor mast developed through the agency’s Towed Airborne Lift of Naval Systems (TALONS) research effort.

  • John Locke

    How does this thing protect itself?

    • El_Sid

      It’s a 140 ton tech demonstrator, self-defence is not the point.

      It’s cute enough that they’ve got a version of TALONS deploying from Sea Hunter, even if this seems to be a smaller prototype version of TALONS. But anything that can take 150lb of equipment up to 1000′ with a minimal footprint compared to a helicopter, has to be interesting.

      • Mauvais Garcon

        Borrowing the German idea from WWII Some U-boats had gyro copters they towed aloft as they cruised the surface.

    • redgriffin

      It’s and unmanned drone built in Portland, Oregon.

  • PolicyWonk

    From most of everything I’ve read, Sea Hunter is supposed to quietly hunt submarines, If its towing a parasail, it has to be going fast enough to generate noise that would make it comparatively easy to detect.

    While cute, this sort of test has been happening for years in tourist traps around the world, and seemingly doesn’t represent much of an advance. Hence – for the cost of a day’s rental of a ski-boat and parasail, the same test could’ve been completed for about $5k, assuming DARPA brings its own “passenger”.

    • El_Sid

      I don’t think the idea is that it would be tracking submarines at the same time, it’s more a case of “We’ve developed a truck, what other payloads can we put on it?”

      Having something that is robust enough for long-duration bluewater (compare with the record of aerostat-lofted sensors) is a significant step beyond the tourists, if it can be automated reliably then a 140t Sea Hunter is a heck of a lot cheaper than a $700m NSC and >$300m-worth of crew and pensions, and can be put in harm’s way.

      Original intention for TALONS was to put it on NSCs, LCS etc, but a big long wire isn’t very compatible with helicopters so if it can be offloaded onto a separate vessel, that’s probably a good thing.

    • Secundius

      Just Underneath the “Parasail” is a Radar Array for Over the Horizon Detection. The Theory being the Higher the Parasail Goes, the Greater the Detection Is. Can also be used with a Small MAD Package…

  • Western

    Ah, the unmanned vessel has two guys on it. Wouldn’t you achieve a more efficient and more silent effect by launching an unmanned flying drone from the unmanned vessel?

    • El_Sid

      I think they’re allowed to have some human help for a tech demonstrator….

      I think it’s horses for courses, they’re just scoping what’s possible at the moment. It looks like Scan Eagle with the new launch octocopter and hook will get close to some kind of automated launch/recovery – but its payload is 5% of what’s planned for TALONS. The TALONS payload is closer to the original FireScout – but there’s no way an MQ-8 is going to be reliable enough for prolonged use without attention. The only major moving part on this is a winch, and that’s pretty robust and well-known technology. Of course, the parafoil is going to get snagged and hit by lightning and all those kinds of things, but that’s the point of doing testing, to see how big a problem that will be in the real world. Personally I’d much rather have some low tech kit that works reliably, than a Gucci EFV or V-22 that is so complicated it can only do its job with the help of a huge, vulnerable, logistics chain.

  • old guy

    THE “PARASAIL”invented by my old friend, DOMINA JALBERT, has a major flaw for this application, A strong cross wind or an interruption of forward speed would ground it. With no one to re-erect c’est finis; unless we cook up a reloaunch system. I suggest they consult with another group I belong to, The American Kitefliers Association.

    • Secundius

      A “Poor Man’s AWAC’S” system. Even Marine Radar will Pick-Up a Plane. Using the Vessel as a Radar Pickett and Communicating a Possible Threat Several Times the Distance of a Conventual E-3 Sentry or E-2D Hawkeye goes a Long Way in Preparing for a Possible Threat…