“CLAWS will demonstrate autonomous missions in denied waters, develop and demonstrate autonomous technologies for survivability of large UUVs, and develop autonomy and launch capabilities for special mission payloads,” the request document adds.
A New Submarine Concept
The Navy’s Orca Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle is a move to take attack submarines out of human hands. It’s a drone submarine. The development of this program has been conducted in phases. The Navy is requesting $26.456 million to “develop an autonomous unmanned undersea weapon system” capable of engaging in combat. The vessel, called the CLAWS Innovative Naval Prototype (INP), was part of a 2018 contract, and the $26.456 million would go towards continuing its development. The budget request also calls for an additional $23.445 million for the 2022 fiscal year, bringing the total cost request to $49.901 million.
There are always engineers who say that they can build something – given funding – that will do marvelous things. And remote operating vehicles underwater have been doing things that divers can’t do for a long time now. Taking that to an attacking drone submarine, operating far from friendly shores with no crew – spooks me a little bit. I’m not suggesting that it can’t be built – given enough money, but I don’t like judgment being taken out of the hands of a human crew. And if the enemy figures out how to spoof the submarine to the surface where they can take control of it and repurpose it?