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    Sunday, November 11, 2007

    Unmanned Aerial Vehicle to be tested this month

    According to an article in Defense Daily, the Navy is to begin testing a submarine launched UAV this month (article by Geoff Fine):

    "When the USS Montpelier (SSN-765) deploys later this month it will include a new Internet system to improve communications as well as an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) the crew will test to see if this type of capability can be used on submarines, according to a Navy official.

    The Montpelier will also be testing a new UAV during its deployment, Vice Adm. John Donnelly, commander, Submarine Force said.

    The submarine will deploy with "Buster," a bungee cord-launched system that can reach an altitude of 1,000 feet. Buster will be equipped with an infrared (IR) camera and has a range of at least 20 miles. During his video briefing, Donnelly played a clip of an IR feed from "Buster" as it flew over the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center (AUTEC).

    "We hope to prove this capability for use on a SSGN," he added.

    The Navy has converted four ballistic missile, SSBN, submarines to the guided missile, or SSGN, configuration. The first of those, the USS Ohio (SSGN-726), has begun her maiden deployment, Donnelly said.

    The USS Florida (SSGN-728) and USS Michigan (SSGN-727) will deploy in '08, followed by the USS Georgia (SSGN-729), Donnelly said.

    The Navy's newest submarine class, the Virginia, has gone through a redesign of its entire bow area, Donnelly noted. This will give the boat a reduced sonar sphere.

    The Virginia is also equipped with a large diameter tube that will enable all SSGN payloads to be incorporated into future Virginia-class submarines, he said. "

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