QUANTICO, Virginia – The Marine Corps' rapid capabilities office is looking for a drone that can help Marines clear mines in the shallows ahead of a landing, and Kongsberg’s Hydroid is hoping its REMUS 100 unmanned undersea vehicle will answer the bell.
REMUS, an autonomous underwater vehicle, is already in wide use in the U.S. Navy with about 100 total used in mine clearing operations in the Middle East, and Hydroid thinks it will meet the Marines' needs as well.
“This is something we are looking to answer the mail with for the [request for information]," said Rusty Brown, a Hydroid representative."
As the Navy’s minesweepers in the Arabian Gulf and elsewhere have struggled to stay in working order, the service has been increasingly relying on small boats and AUVs to do its mine hunting for it. The REMUS drones have proven effective in the Gulf and other austere environments, and have even proven effective in standing up to Great White Shark attacks.
The Reemus 100 is about 85 lbs (a two-man lift) and comes equipped with side-scan sonor to find the mines and is rated up to 100 meters. The drone is also much faster than human divers, Brown said.
“It keeps the divers out of the water,” Brown said. “This thing could mow this entire area in a few minutes where as a diver could take hours," he added, motioning to the conference floor.
The REMUS 100 is also flexible and can take on multiple sensor packages, he said.
“It’s kind of like a pickup truck, you can outfit it with anything,” Brown said. “This specific version is an expeditionary version, lightweight, for shallow water. There is a larger version that is for deeper water, big Navy.”
Marine Corps officials want three prototypes for the office to evaluate, Marine Corps Times reported September 14. They must be able to seek out and handle the ordnance at depths from less than 10 feet in the surf out to shallow water depths at the 40- to 200-foot range.
The technology will help personnel identify those items from short distance, stand-off ranges to see if it’s hazardous or nonhazardous.
Once it identifies the item it must then be able to render it incapable of firing or detonating.
The remote-control portion can run either tethered or with radio signals. It must also accurately send back geolocation information to ‘mark’ the ordnance.
Military Times ground warfare reporter Todd South contributed to the reporting of this story.