Knifefish Submersible Drone Hunts for Hidden Mines

Unmanned undersea vehicle aims to keep sailors safe by autonomously scouting for mines.

(Image courtesy of General Dynamics Mission Systems.)

(Image courtesy of General Dynamics Mission Systems.)

The General Dynamics Mission Systems (GDMS) team responsible for the development of the Knifefish autonomous submersible has announced that the drone has, in coordination with the U.S. Navy, successfully completed a mine-hunting evaluation off the coast of Boston.

The evaluation used Navy mine test targets and represents an important milestone in the Knifefish program. The purpose of the test was to demonstrate the Knifefish’s capabilities in action and gather data that will help to refine future iterations of the drone.

The Knifefish is a heavyweight-class mine countermeasure (MCM) unmanned undersea vehicle (UUV) intended for deployment from Navy surface vessels. The UUV is designed to detect and classify a wide range of potential mines situated at varying depths in the ocean, as each type of mine presents unique dangers to naval ships. The Knifefish can also identify mines buried in the seafloor.

“The information and situational awareness Knifefish will deliver to sailors is a quantum leap in clarity and accuracy over other mine-hunting systems currently used by the Navy,” said Carlo Zaffanella, Vice President and General Manager of Maritime and Strategic Systems for GDMS.

GDMS, the U.S. Navy’s primary contractor for the Knifefish, created the UUV by utilizing an open architecture concept that is highly modular and can be rapidly and efficiently modified to suit the needs of specific naval missions.

According to Captain Jon Rucker, Program Manager for the Navy’s Unmanned Maritime Systems Program Office, “The Navy continues to work with its industry partner, General Dynamics Mission Systems, to develop, test, and deliver the needed Knifefish capability to the fleet.

“The system performed well against a variety of surrogate targets and we are confident we will refine its performance to support the planned schedule in 2017.”

The Knifefish will undergo more testing at sea this year in order to fine-tune system performance ahead of formal System Acceptance Testing with the Navy.

For more UUV news, check out this underwater drone that fits in a backpack.