Modern Naval Warfare | MDL XLUUV

– Admin Alpha Mariner

Last year, we covered around 5 articles on Modern Naval Warfare. This year, although with some gap, let’s continue the Modern Naval Warfare series with quite an extrordinary concept coming from India’s leading submarine builder Mazgaon Dock Limited (MDL). It’s called the eXtra Large Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (XLUUV). Here in this article, we shall go through some of what’s known in the public domain and we shall try to draw some parallels as well as anticipate some technologies that it possibly might come with.

The Necessity

The advent of modern naval warfare demands ever increasing undersea operational awareness with a decent payload delivery. The importance of underwater warfare has always been prime and it still continues to be so. The advantages of extended range with higher degree of autonomy has significantly enhanced the operational efficiency of the navies around the world; thereby enabling them in a much better situational awareness and resource utilization. Eliminating the human component in a vessel provides immense benefits with regard to space, available tonnage, reduced risk and improved allocation. These necessities have resulted in the conception of XLUUV.

The Functionality

XLUUV is intended to perform functions such as periodic communication, payload deployment, execute pre-programmed missions and transit back to base once it’s time. It comes equipped with internal and external payload volumes and they are designed to be reconfigurable based on mission-specific needs. The spatial advantage gained enables it to have higher energy capacity through large number of energy modules thereby facilitating longer loitering periods typically a few months and is hence a more affordable, mission-capable solution over the conventional lot of UUVs.

It is possible that for redundancy, a single mast facilitating communications as well as snorkelling could be used. Additionally it is likely that XLUUVs will carry DRDO’s high endurance UAV as one of it’s payloads. Since XLUUV is intended to be a submarine it is quite possible that SMART ( Supersonic Missile Assisted Torpedo) could be one of it’s payloads. These payloads provide higher degree of lethality at reduced risk.

Drawing Parallels

The research and development in the field of UUVs is currently ongoing in all the nations involved and it’s quite interesting that MDL from India is also competing on the same level. The US Navy is also working on an XLUUV prototype with support from Lockhead Martin. It is called Orca XLUUV.

Some other XLUUVs in progress include:

  • MSUBs Manta XLUUVs from the UK
  • MSUBs Moray XLUUV from the UK
  • Rubin Klavesin-2M-2P (Harpsichor) from Russia
  • Naval group Oceanic Underwater Drone Demonstrator from France
  • Hanwha Systems ASWUUV from Japan
  • Iranian IRGC XLUUV
  • HSU-001 LDUUV from China.

The idea behind XLUUVs as a part of the layered modern underwater warfare system could not be better illustrated by this infographic from PEO USC – Naval Sea Systems Command.

A similar architecture is what nations around the world would aim for but with improved modularity and well concised operational specifications.

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