The first ship-to-submarine delivery using a small unmanned aircraft has been carried out by hybrid-electric drone manufacturer Skyfront.
In a demonstration, on 19 October in the Pacific near the Hawaiian Islands, the UAV took off from a moving surface vessel and delivered supplies to the crew of a ballistic missile submarine.
According to Skyfront, its long-endurance hybrid-electric Perimeter drone illustrated a quick and cost-effect way to resupply submarines at sea.
The company said the UAV’s command and control handoff capability was showcased in the flight. Pilots aboard the surface vessel launched the drone and flew it near the submarine before pilots aboard the submarine took control. They were then able to release the package onto the top of the sub.
It said the Perimeter allows an unlimited number of pilots and ground control stations to view video from and take control of the UAV at any time. Pilots can control the drone with joysticks or with Skyfront’s satellite map software.
For long range missions multiple distributed pilots are used to maintain line-of-sight control and comply with countries’ aviation rules and regulations. Pilots are also able to maintain full control of the vehicle whilst flying over rugged terrain where radio links could be compromised.
Skyfront has partnered with Silvus Technnologies for the drone’s data link and Optimum Solutions provided the long-range tracking antennas.