This post is also available in: עברית (Hebrew)
A new underwater system provides a highly flexible undersea vehicle that can deliver payloads at distances of hundreds of miles without human intervention in unmanned mode or transport divers in manned mode. The miniature submarine designed for stealthy military missions is a hybrid of an underwater vehicle and a drone. The system can switch seamlessly from being driven as a vehicle to driving itself and running its own missions.
As an underwater vehicle, the Proteus, made by Huntington Ingalls and Batelle, is designed for forces that need to covertly penetrate enemy territory using water. For the U.S. military, Navy SEALs and other teams are highly trained for missions involving water. In the future, there may be potential for submersibles like Proteus to be used offensively by the Navy too. If Proteus was eventually equipped with weapons, then SEALs could fire off weapons in underwater battles.
The vehicle weighs approximately 8,000 pounds, but can travel at speeds of about 10 knots. It has a special battery system that allows the sub to travel about 700 nautical miles.
Unlike large-scale military submarines, there is no oxygen atmosphere inside. The Proteus floods with water so the combat divers must wear breathing apparatus to travel inside.
When there are no humans inside, the submersible can hit depths of 200 feet. With military special operators inside, it can travel at depths of approximately 150 feet below the water.
Six SEALs can travel in one Proteus and an additional six in another. Once they reach their insertion point, the first Proteus is instructed to patrol the coastline and feed real-time data regarding enemy movements to the partner team as it moves inland and then travels back to the extraction point.
The second Proteus is instructed to travel to the extraction point straight away. From there, that Proteus’ mission is to monitor that area. If the area becomes compromised, say for example, by enemy troops that have suddenly shown up on the shoreline, then this Proteus warns the SEAL team and the other Proteus.
According to foxnews.com, not only can Proteus deliver humans to a target, the sub can deliver air, surface and underwater microdrones to a target location and launch them. Equipped with advanced sensors and cameras, the drone team can provide more eyes underwater and eyes in the sky for the military.
The vehicle can run reconnaissance missions by itself without any human intervention. In fact, the systems could potentially collaborate and work together undetected providing reconnaissance, intelligence, and surveillance on things like enemy coastlines and enemy fleets.