Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) announced a new partnership with Edge, an advanced technology group for defense. The two companies will jointly develop a new fleet of modular, unmanned surface vessels (USV) that will be used for various military and commercial applications.
Autonomous vessels play an important part in defense systems. They are capable of reducing the risks to human life and the operational costs usually needed for traditional manned systems.
ADSB, Edge’s manufacturing arm specializing in autonomous vehicles, will be in charge of the design of the vessels and will join forces with the Israeli defense company to produce 170 advanced USVs in total.
As part of the collaboration, the ADSB will design the platform and integrate the control systems and payload and carry out the concept of operations (CONOPS) document. IAI will take care of the autonomous control system and incorporate multiple mission payloads to the control system units, depending on the mission requirements.
The vessels will be fully customizable, and customers will be able to select the specific options needed to fit their needs. They will have the possibility to choose between different types of operation, as the USVs will allow remote navigation, semi-autonomous or autonomous operation.
The fleet will be equipped with sensors, sonars, and imaging systems integrated into a single command and control system. There’s no word on the vehicles’ range or speed, but IAI says that it will provide “unique” capabilities in terms of performance.
The vehicles may be adapted for commercial purposes and be used for pollution monitoring, oil and gas exploration, cargo transportation, search and rescue, and more.
As for the military applications, the USVs will include surveillance, reconnaissance, border and littoral zone patrol, maritime security operations, mine detection, submarine detection, and anti-submarine warfare, and will have a specially-design platform for vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) aircraft.
The new fleet will add to the unmanned surface vessels IAI already produces. The manufacturer currently makes the Katana USV, which is used for autonomous navigation and mission planning. The Katana also allows dual-mode operations, which means that it can be operated both as an unmanned vehicle and as a manned vehicle.