US Navy to Deploy Submarine-Launched Blackwing Drones for Low Cost Aerial Surveillance

By: | May 26th, 2016

Another breakthrough in the fields of drones…recently we read about the drones launched from aircraft carriers, but now there are water-borne flying drones that can be launched from submarines and other underwater vessels.

To have a low-cost aerial surveillance for challenging environments, the US Navy is buying these new drones.

It’s really a great innovation since submarines are dependent upon carriers for aerial reconnaissance. These drones can boost the air defense shield of submarines and may also be used for aerial warfare.

These drones are dubbed Blackwing drones. They are stored in a three-inch canister aboard submarines or unmanned underwater vehicles. They make use of the already installed systems for acoustic countermeasures. Once the drone is launched in the air, the shell falls apart and the drone unfurls its wings.

These Blackwing drones have infrared and electro-optical sensors, GPS modules, and encrypted communications capabilities and can fly for over one hour at a time.


Produced by AeroVironment, the Blackwing drones are an important part of the Navy’s “Advanced Weapons Enhanced by Submarine UAS Against Mobile Targets” program.

The Navy’s Director of Undersea Warfare, Rear Admiral Charles Richard, told US Naval Institute News, “So there’s 150 small unmanned aerial systems coming in on submarines, so we’re now buying them. It’s not something that you would [just] see on a PowerPoint presentation. These are fully integrated; they’ll go in, talk back to the ship, talk to the combat control system, and additionally we’ll have 12 of a 21-inch torpedo tube launched vehicles with much longer launch duration.”

Nidhi Goyal

Nidhi is a gold medalist Post Graduate in Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences.

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