VIDEO: IAI unveils Israel’s first unmanned submarine

Defence company Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) has presented its BlueWhale large autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV).

Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI)

BlueWhale is intended for covert intelligence-gathering operations, to detect submarines and gather acoustic intelligence. The large AUV has successfully conducted thousands of hours of submerged and autonomous operation.

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This has successfully undergone thousands of autonomous operation hours, including intelligence-gathering for both maritime and coastal targets, acoustic intelligence, and identifying the presence of naval mines.

The autonomous submarine can perform a significant portion of the operations of a manned submarine, for periods of several weeks, at minimal cost and maintenance, without the need for operators on board.

BlueWhale is equipped with a telescopic mast, like the periscope of a manned submarine, several meters high, on which are mounted radar and electro-optical systems for detecting sea and coastal targets. By using a satellite communications antenna on the mast, the gathered data can be transferred in real-time to command posts, anywhere in the world, at sea or on land.

Submarine detection and acoustic intelligence-gathering data is enabled using a sonar, several tens of meters long, towed by the BlueWhale, and by flank array sonar with receiver arrays attached to both sides of the platform.

In parallel, mine detection is performed using a dedicated synthetic aperture sonar, attached to the sides of the vessel. The BlueWhale has a sensor suite to help ensure its safe transit underwater or near the surface. In recent years, a number of international patents have been registered regarding development of the system.

“BlueWhale joins the family of land, sea, and space-based unmanned platforms, developed by IAI, and represents a force-multiplier for submarine fleets. Based on its advanced engineering capabilities IAI’s Elta Group has for the first time in the world managed to bring to maturity the development and production of an autonomous underwater system able to perform a wide range of tasks,” IAI VP and ELTA’s CEO Yoav Tourgeman said.