The Ministry of Defense’s Administration for the Development of Weapons and Technological Infrastructure (Mafat) has set the next challenge for Israel’s defense industry: do for unmanned submarines what it did for unmanned aerial warfare. If the defense industry moves quickly and purposefully in identifying this emerging market, and offers a well-functioning unmanned submarine, it could be riding the right wave in a decade from now: Mafat aeronautics division director Dr. Yuval Cohen estimates that the market will be worth $2 billion a year in 2020.
If Israel was the spearhead of unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), there is no reason why it cannot spearhead unmanned submarines. “We have the academic infrastructures and skills needed to work on the development of tools in this field, and if the defense industry invests the necessary resources in R&D, it will have something to sell the world, because there will be strong demand for these platforms,” Cohen told “Globes”.
In early October, Mafat staff presented its vision of unmanned submarines at a special conference organized by the magazine “Israel Defense”. While Israel rushes ahead with UAVs, and is developing unmanned land vehicles and unmanned patrol boats, Mafat says that the challenges of developing unmanned submarines are huge: in contrast to UAVs, which are operated by commands from ground command and control systems via satellite communications, these are unavailable beneath the oceans. Undersea communications is acoustics-based, which have limited volume and range. Unmanned submarines will therefore need high levels of automation and independent navigation.
Unmanned submersibles, which are linked to the supply ship by cable, already exist, but they are short-range vehicles and have limited utility. Nonetheless, unmanned submarines have huge potential, if only because in a future battlefield, they can replace navy commandoes for special ops or plant intelligence devices off a hostile shore.
Read more at GLOBES.