Using technology first designed for Tomahawk missiles, the U.S. Navy has managed to launch a drone from inside a submerged submarine.
The XFC folding-wing unmanned aerial system (UAS, or drone) was launched in a specially-designed canister that sits upright on top of the water and extends up slightly beyond the surface of the water. The canister remains upright above the water for a few seconds before launching the drone into the air where it can fly for several hours and stream live video.
The Navy says that the product, which has been in the works for more than six years, was the product of the Naval Research Laboratory and can be launched from the back of trucks or small surface vessels. The electric, fuel-cell-powered aircraft has wings that can be folded for storage and launch.
The aircraft was controlled by sailors inside the USS Providence submarine and is primarily used for surveillance and reconnaissance missions.
“The successful submerged launch of a remotely deployed UAS offers a pathway to providing mission-critical intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities to the U.S. Navy’s submarine force,” the NRL said in a statement Thursday.
According to the Navy, the drone flew a successful mission before landing at the the Naval Sea Systems Command Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center in the Bahamas.