The USS Michael Monsoor, a navy destroyer, will be controlling a swarm of drones and autonomous boats during an upcoming naval exercise part of the US Navy’s futuristic battlefield plan. The USS Michael Monsoor is a Zumwalt-class guided-missile destroyer.
The destroyer will be put to the test as navy officers watch on to see if the technology is ready for prime time or if it needs more work.
The fleet of autonomous vehicles and drones consists of the Super Swarm project, a Sea Hunter, a Sea Hawk, a Northrup Grumman MQ-8B Fire Scout drone, and an MQ-9 Sea Guardian drone.
The Sea Hunter is a state-of-the-art robotic ship that can go out on a mission for up to 90 days at a time and has a speed of 31 mph. It is expected that it will one day be used to track down enemy submarines and set off on missions that are a little too risky for people to be onboard. The Sea Hawk is similar, but not much information is currently known on it.
MQ-8 Fire Scout combat drone is capable of flying at speeds of up to 160 miles per hour and can fly for up to 15 hours at a time. The fully autonomous drone is powered by a Rolls-Royce 250-C47B engine capable of 813 horsepower at the shaft and can carry a payload of up to 2,950 pounds. The drone has a rotor diameter of 36.6 feet, a height of 10.9 feet, and a length of 34.7 feet.
The MQ-9 Reaper, commonly known as the Predator B, has a maximum flight speed of 300 miles per hour and a cruising speed of 194 miles per hour. The drone can stay in the air for up to 14 hours when fully loaded, thanks to the Honeywell TPE331-10 turboprop engineer pumping out 900 horsepower.
The Reaper holds a combined payload weight of 3,800 pounds, with 800 pounds of it being stored internally and the other 3,000 pounds external. The drone has seven hardpoints that allow various ammunitions to be mounted to it and can accommodate a maximum of four Hellfire missiles, soon to be eight, and two Paveway 2 laser-guided bombs.
Photo: U.S. Navy
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