Unmanned Underwater Vehicle
Boeing has introduced a game changer, the Echo Voyager Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV). It’s a fully autonomous Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (XLUUV) with the ability to operate for months without physical human contact. It can dive to a maximum depth of 11,000 feet. One fuel module can power the UUV for a round trip of nearly 6,500 nm.
Echo Voyager Opens New Doors
Typically Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (UUVs) must be launched from a host ship or platform for launch and recovery. This confined engineers into a box forcing them to create vehicles within those constraints, including a maximum size. Echo Voyager can launch from a port meaning size constraints can be dramatically increased. UUV power availability is also constrained with size requirements so Boeing’s new UUV allows for an increase in UUV power or even an outright change of power methods.
Probably the most important change due to the increase in size, is payload capability. Boeing’s UUV includes news sensors and system payloads. The Echo Voyager can now incorporate bigger and more complicated payloads for more effectiveness across a broader spectrum of missions.
Communications / Navigation
For communication Boeing’s Echo Voyager uses encrypted Wi-Fi, Iridium, Inmarsat IV, and also freewave enabled communications. Control Command uses these communication platforms for the UUV to receive status messages during submerged operations, for mission re-planning, near surface operations, and acoustic communications.
Navigation systems onbord the UUV are also state-of-the-art. Boeing states the following:
The vehicle provides remarkable navigational accuracy. The primary navigation system features a proven Kalman filtered Inertial Navigation Unit (INU) aided by a set of Doppler Velocity Logs (DVLs), and depth sensors, and can use seafloor long baseline (LBL) transponders to augment the navigation solution. GPS is available operating on or near the surface.
Terrain Following / Sonar System
Echo Voyager utilizes a DVL and FLS system that allows the UUV to execute missions near the seafloor using a terrain following capability.
Echo Voyager can use differing versions of sonar payloads, but is advertised as using the Raytheon PROSAS PS60-6000 Synthetic Aperture Sonar to enhance ocean-bottom mapping capability. The sonar has a swath of 6,234 ft (1,900 m).
Other Technical Specs
- Altitude Stability: 0.8 ft / 0.25 m ‡
- Depth Stability: 1.0 ft / 0.3 m ‡
- LBL aided position accuracy: 7.7 ft / 2.3 m ‡
- Unaided position accuracy: 0.15% distance traveled
- Autonomous buoyancy control capability
- Forward and aft trim control
- Seafloor mooring capability
- Weight in Air: 50 tons (45,360 kg)
- Envelope (no payload): 51 ft x 8.5 ft x 8.5 ft (15.5 m x 2.6 m x 2.6 m)
- Envelope (with a 34 ft payload section): 85 ft (25.9 m)
- Maximum Depth: 11,000 ft (3,000 m)
- Maximum Speed: 8.0 kts (14.8 km/hr)
- Minimum Speed: 2.5 kts (4.63 km/hr)
- Optimal Speed: 2.5 – 3 kts (4.6 – 5.6 km/hr)
- Range between recharges: ~150 nm (~280 km) at nominal speed