The Seagull Unmanned Surface Vessel robot patrol boat. (Elbit Systems) (Elbit Systems)
elbit

Elbit Systems integrates an aerial drone to its Seagull unmanned surface patrol vessel, turning it into a mini-robot aircraft carrier.

By Yakir Benzion, United With Israel

Israel’s Elbit Systems, a major defense contractor, has added aircraft capabilities to the the operations of its Seagull Unmanned Surface Vessel (USV), a remotely piloted military patrol boat that also does anti-submarine warfare and mine sweeping, the company announced Thursday.

Elbit has decades of experience building and perfecting unmanned systems, and the Seagull gives navies a “force multiplier” that povides high performance at sea while reducing the risk to human life and dramatically cutting procurement and operating costs.

While one might be tempted to jump aboard and try it out, the twin-engined Seagull actually has no onboard crew and is controlled remotely, just like an air force drone. It can stay on mission for up to four days at a time, and the addition of the mini-drone gives the it an eye-in-the-sky capability, further enhancing its intelligence gathering capabilities by making the robot patrol boat a mini-aircraft carrier.

The airborne visual feed generated by the drone can be transmitted to the Seagull’s land-based control or to the Combat Management System of a navy ship.

While the Seagull was specially designed as a multi-role vessel for underwater warfare, the drone has a switchable payload module that includes Electronic Warfare and Electro-Optic/Infra-Red payloads to provide situational awareness and facilitate intelligence gathering.

Elbit says one example of the enhanced capabilities the drone gives the remotely-operated Seagull is that maritime forces can use it for shore exploration to gather intelligence without putting personnel in danger.

As an operational tool for navies, the Seagull with its drone has the ability to go into dangerous waters where it can get the job done via remote control, protecting lives by “taking the sailor out of the mine field,” Elbit says.

The company says the Seagull was deployed in several exercises over the last few years that were conducted with NATO maritime forces, including British and Spanish navies.

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