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Deployment System and Method for Subsurface Launched Unmanned Aerial Vehicle

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Patent application, filed 15 Nov 2006

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The present invention relates to subsurface launched unmanned aerial vehicles UAVs and is directed more particularly to a deployment system for launching a vertical take off and landing vToL AUV or a fixed-wing AUV. The launching of UAVs from submarines, or other subsurface platforms, is known in the art, e.g., the launching of cruise missiles and other types of missiles and high-speed vehicles. For some purposes, slower speed UAVs are preferred and launch systems for such UAVs are being developed. Some slower speed UAV systems have disadvantages andor limitations. One system relies on buoyancy to provide the UAVs initial upward momentum to separate the UAV from a launcher. Thus, once released from the underwater platform, one commonly used launcher does not allow for a time-delayed launch of the UAV, which can compromise or reveal the position of the underwater platform. Additionally, the launcher relies on a booster or the like to initially power the AUV once it is separated. This launching mechanism creates a flame or smoke plume, referred to as a flame datum, which also compromises the platform location. Two typically used launchers cannot be launched at submarine test depth or in shallow water due to risks of the capsules striking the hull, the submarine, or other underwater platform. Accordingly, there is a need for a deployment system for launching a UAV from a subsurface platform, which allows for a time delayed launch without a significant flame or smoke plume, that can launch a UAV at test depth or in shallow water and that can accommodate a variety of UAVs, such as VTOL, UAVs, and fixed-wing UAVs.

Subject Categories:

  • Underwater-Launched Guided Missiles

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