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Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Military to Spend $1.1 Billion on Unmanned Systems in Next 10 Years

military operations, with estimates suggesting that just under half of expenditure on autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) coming from defence organisations.


Research from Douglas-Westwood suggests that the underwater unmanned systems market will total $2.3 billion (£688 million) between 2010 and 2019, with $1.1 billion of that coming from the military sector.

"Although 629 AUVs have been produced to date, they are still regarded as a relatively new technology," said Paul Newman, lead analyst at Douglas-Westwood.

He added that the use of unmanned systems for a number of key tasks as increased significantly as they have been shown to be more cost-effective than previous technology.

"For example, they are now one of the military's primary mine countermeasure devices and well established within the oil and gas community as deep water survey platforms," Newman added.

Supporting War on Terror

The Douglas-Westwood report estimates that around 1,400 AUVs will be needed over the next 10 years, the majority of which will be small unmanned systems, weighing in at a minimum 10kg. The military, oil and gas and research sectors will be the key drivers for the AUV market as the three principal purchasers.

Supporting the war on terror and associated campaigns will be one of the main reasons for increased demand for these unmanned systems, according to the research.

"AUV technology is primed for dynamic growth as technological capability and market need are now building on each other," Newman concluded.

This trend is one that intelligence company Jane's Defence has identified, with Charles Hollosi and Cliff Funnell writing for the firm's Web site that unmanned systems are now becoming available on military operations.

The changing role of navies is also prompting the move, according to the experts. They said that submarines are mainly involved in intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), special forces insertion and launch of land-attack missiles.

UK Investment in Unmanned Systems

Unmanned systems offer a cost-effective way of undertaking ISR. Two years ago, the UK Ministry of Defence ordered a new unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) to enhance the Royal Navy's ability to detect underwater mines and other obstructions.

The contract was worth £5.5 million and saw the Navy acquire the Remus 600, a UUV designed to enhance the mine countermeasures capability of the force's fleet.

"Remus is an advanced new capability that will not only reduce the risk to ships and divers during mine countermeasures operations, but will help to undertake a wide range of other important tasks, from supporting marine search and salvage operations to defending our ports and harbours against potential terrorist attacks," said Nick Johnson, leader of the Defence Equipment and Support Underwater Defence Systems and Countermeasures Integrated Project Team, at the time.

The Remus 600 has a mine detection and classification capability in the 30m to 200m depth range. It is fitted with a range of sensors and runs on re-chargeable batteries which power it for over 70 hours.

More recently, the President Obama announced that $100 billion will be added to the Pentagon's 2011-15 base budget plan, Defense News reported.

A percentage of this budget is expected to be spent on new unmanned systems, including a Navy attack submarine and the new Carrier Long-Range Strike system, sources told the news provider. (source Defpro)