Israeli defense electronics company Elbit Systems Ltd. (Nasdaq: ESLT; TASE: ESLT) has unveiled Seagull - an organic, modular, highly autonomous, multi-mission Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) system. The company has been developing the USV in secret over the past few years but unveiled the craft today at its Kishon dock near Haifa.
Seagull is a 12-meter USV with replaceable mission modules, with two vessels capable of being operated and controlled in concert using a single Mission Control System (MCS), from manned ships or from the shore. The USV can remain in the water for over four days.
The system also provides unmanned end-to-end mine hunting operations taking the man out of the mine field. It provides mission planning, and on-line operation in known and unknown areas, including area survey, search, detection, classification, identification, neutralization and verification. It is equipped to search the entire water volume and operate underwater vehicles to identify and neutralize mines.
Seagull changes the dynamics of anti-submarine operations by creating a threat to submarines using a cost-effective and available asset, replacing and augmenting manned assets with minimal threat from submarines. It empowers a surface vessel or naval base commander with off-board, available and rapidly deployable Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capabilities to protect critical sea areas and high-value assets from submarine as well as sea mine threats.
Elbit systems EVP and general manager ISTAR Division Elad Aharonson said, "I believe that Seagull is a breakthrough solution that will bring about a revolution in underwater operations and meet the growing needs in Israel and abroad in the mariitime arena."
Incorporating Elbit Systems' extensive experience in UAS, Seagull features a robust, highly-autonomous and safe sailing capability as well as modular mission payload suites, selected to match a variety of required missions including EW, surface force protection, hydrographical missions in addition to the core MCM and ASW missions. The sailing suite includes a patented Autonomous Navigation System (ANS), with obstacle avoidance, which considers the international regulations for preventing collisions at sea.
Network ready and long enduring, Seagull features inherent C4I capabilities for enhanced situation awareness and can remain at sea for over 96 hours. The Seagull multi-mission USV system offers navies a true force-multiplier in reducing risk, cost and manpower requirements in performing missions which have only been performed to date by costly manned assets.
Aharonson told "Globes," "Until now dealing with submarines was carried out by heavy craft such as missile boats and fighter aircraft and helicopters at operative costs of hundreds of millions of dollars. The USV lowers costs for these missions by many tens of times. It can seek out enemy submarines, pursue them over large distances and turn them into prey. It can collect relevant intelligence about the submarine and in extreme situations direct torpedoes at them fired from other vessels."
The unveiling of the Seagull comes as the Israeli Navy has been tasked with protecting Israel's economic waters and newly discovered gas fields.
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on February 8, 2016
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