This one is not in space... but I posted this image from NAVSEA in reply to a question...

Originally posted by observe50 
"Unfortunately they are in the deepest of our waters and we don't have anything that can reach them."

You sure about that? 


Now I have not found any details on this particular craft yet but it sure looks like it can go places "Where no one has gone before"

Originally posted by wdpk OM Post ID 288348

Hello zorgon. Thanks a lot for your fascinating researches! I found a lot of informations about the image above:

After searching for a while on various Navy websites with webarchive, I found another image of the same craft, and a description of it :


The Naval Undersea Warfare Center works to expand the knowledge of the underwater world, as well as man's ability to work within this environment. The following stories focus on three NUWC projects to aid medical treatment, increase our knowledge of the physical laws of water, and take aim at the 21st century.

His eyes were bloodshot, and his head hurt.

It had been days since Nuclear Physicist's Mate 1st Class Rek Tiberdon slept. His R&R on Saturn's 14th substation "Hawaiidine" had been terminated three days earlier when he received emergency recall orders instructing him to return to Earth and join his veta cyberfor-atom, displacement-class sub in the Pacific Ocean.

And now, with the memories of leave fading fast and his body trying to catch up to a hyper-space, sub-galaxy transport, Tiberdon stood ready at his battlestation on the bridge of USS Las Vegas as it hovered motionless at 34,820 feet – just above the bottom of the Marianas trench – listening and waiting.

Tiberdon didn't catch much of the conversation on the docking bay, but from what he could piece together some rebel faction had gotten their hands on an old nuclear class sub from the late-20th century and Vegas had been detailed to take them out.

"Nice to have you back, son."

Tiberdon recognized the voice on his headset.

"Thanks, Skipper," he replied.

"Sorry to pull you back off leave, Rek, but we've got a situation here and nobody knows the Manta better than you. You ready for some action?"

"You bet, Sir. Let's see what this baby can do."

"Launch Manta One."

With lighting quickness Tiberdon completed the make-ready and pre-flight and sent the unmanned "weapon" on its way. Even though he'd done the same thing a hundred times, he could not help but be impressed once again as the lights of the manta ray-shaped drone disappeared into the blackness. So much technology wrapped up in such a small package, he thought. Stealth sail, noiseless propulsion, composite "smart" skin, onboard active and passive sonar, high-rate coms, full sized torps… this thing is awesome.

"Enemy target visualized," said the computer-generated voice over the speaker.

"I see it," replied Tiberdon as he griped the controls and stared intently at the night-vision monitor mounted on his console.

"Coming up on the target, Captain. Enemy sub in range – 2 kilometers."

"Drop her in quietly on the enemy's starboard hull and launch Manta Two."

"Aye, Sir."

Within minutes the second drone was within striking distance on the enemy's port side.

"She's boxed in Skipper and she doesn't even know it."

"Prepare to fire torpedoes on my order."

"Captain of the enemy sub, you are currently being tracked by two Manta submarines. You have 30 seconds to comply with United Nations directive 3101.5 and surrender…"

"Captain, he's opening his outer doors."

"He doesn't even know what he's up against. Petty Officer Tiberdon take him out," came the order. With a tinge of regret, Tiberdon coordinated the Mantas' firing solutions and simultaneously fired two torpedoes which converged on the enemy sub amidships and split her in half.

Tiberdon watched on the digital iod vidfeed as the once-great warrior sunk into the depths.

It reads like a science fiction novel. But, if a man by the name of John Sirmalis has his way, it won't be fiction for much longer. Dr. Sirmalis is the technical director at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, R.I., and he is currently developing the technology to build an unmanned, undersea vehicle capable of extending the eyes and ears of the Navy's submarine force.

Sirmalis believes the Manta will be deployed as standard equipment on board Navy submarines sometime early in the next century. Four of these Mantas would be fully integrated into the design of the submarine, residing in a recessed cavity on the outer hull – so as not to affect the sub's hydrodynamic resistance.

With their speed and stealth, submarines are capable of surveying contingency situations and probing enemy defenses. Their ability to gather information while remaining undetected is limited only by the range of their electronic equipment and the environment in which they operate.

Manta would increase the submarine's observable area in four directions and provide added firepower to an already formidable weapon. In theory, a submarine captain could inflict critical damage without ever giving away the position of the mother sub.

It may be fantasy now, but the Manta is coming.

Benson is the Assistant Editor for All Hands.

Source - Internet Archives - [Html][Archived]

Then I searched Navy Manta, this pdf was in the first page of results; - [PDF][Archived]

Seems to be an essential project for the Navy.

I also found this interesting article from 2001 named "Linked to the Fence", about the Naval Space Command, especially their space surveillance network, excerpt:

Naval Space Command stands a "space watch"; around the clock to track satellites in orbit, operating a surveillance network of nine field stations across the southern United States. The field stations emit bi-static radar signals, much like a microwave oven. They point straight up into space and produce a fence of electromagnetic energy that can detect objects in orbit around the Earth out to an effective range of 15,000 nautical miles."If NORAD [Northern Radar Air Defense] goes down, I direct the entire space surveillance network and track all the U.S.-interest space objects," says Laursen, resting behind a computer console connected to the only system in the known universe with this ability.

Entire article : - Internet Archives - [Html][Archived]
Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport
Scientific user
1176 Howell St.  Newport, RI 02841

Manta platform - Manufacturer: Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport
Summary: Manta Test Vehicle (MTV)

The Manta Test Vehicle (MTV) evolved from the need for a larger payload and energy capacity. NUWC Division Newport designed the vehicle to be a test platform for innovative UUV concepts of the future. It built on the technology developed for the NUWC 21-inch UUV, capitalizing on the use of heavyweight torpedo hull sections grouped together to provide larger capacity payload, energy and propulsion sections. Its futuristic design incorporates a custom fiber-reinforced plastic outer hull.

Physical Specs

    Body Type: Oblate
    Body Material: Aluminum
    Size (LxWxH): 10.44m x 4.72m x 1.80m
    Body Size (LxWxH): 10.44m x 2.44m x 0.90m
    Maximum Depth: 243.00 m
    Dynamic Buoyancy: No
    Self-Righting: Yes
    Manufacturer Website: Link

Organization's Description:

The Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Newport located in Newport Rhode Island, is the Navy's full-spectrum research, development, test and evaluation, engineering and fleet support center for submarines, autonomous underwater systems, and offensive and defensive weapons systems associated with undersea warfare.

USW Autonomous Vehicles

Provides corporate scientific and engineering knowledge and facilities for conducting a full spectrum program of research, science and technology, development, engineering, acquisition planning, and test and evaluation for USW autonomous unmanned undersea systems, with equal emphasis on technology base, advanced development, requirements generation and system employment, modeling and simulation, full-scale development, in-service engineering, supportability, and life-cycle hardware and software support. Provides research and concept development expertise and specialized facilities in support of experimental UUV technology base programs, including air-independent fuel cell and advanced energy and power conversion, to ensure technology development and insertion for unmanned undersea vehicle systems and USW mobile training targets. This technical capability also includes hulls, power, propulsion, machinery, and associated controls for small tactical scale UUVs with responsibilities decreasing when vehicle size exceeds 21 inches in diameter. This capability also includes payload integration and associated core systems for all USW Autonomous Systems in the following mission areas: ASW, above water ISR, ISR supporting ASW, Tactical Oceanography, and Multi-Mission.

USW Distributed Netted Systems

Provides corporate scientific and engineering knowledge and facilities to develop and integrate the technologies required to deliver netcentric battlespace warfighting capability. Supports the deployment and utilization of distributed netted sensors and systems and the command and control capabilities and tools necessary to provide an expanded battlespace awareness and enable effective and timely warfighter response. Provides end to end systems engineering, including architectures, information assurance, anti-tamper and interface requirements, of undersea warfare distributed sensor systems, and command and control across platforms, within the undersea warfare battle space and the theater level battle space. Unique technical challenges include off board, mobile and fixed, netted sensors, long endurance energy sources, autonomy and group behavior, underwater communications, advanced processing techniques and system-level command and control.

The Narragansett Bay Shallow Water Test Facility (NBSWTF), located just off the coast of Newport, RI, is a Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) test and evaluation facility designed to support research and development work in advanced underwater weapons and weapons systems, weapon launchers, Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (UUVs), and oceanographic equipment.

The NBSWTF offers a variety of unique shallow water ranges which allow government, academic and industry partners to expose prototype systems to real environments with a minimum risk of loss.

SOURCE: AUVAC - (Autonomous Undersea Vehicle Applications Center)
Manta: Autonomous Surveillance and Attack Platform

Manta: Autonomous Surveillance and Attack Platform
ONR Program Code 333
May 2009

The Manta concept was formulated in the 1990s as a viable means to extend the reach of the submarine in hostile or dangerous environments. Scale models of the Manta vehicle were fabricated and tested for hydrodynamic stability. The concept led to the construction of a large-scale unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) testbed, known as the Manta Test Vehicle, or MTV. The MTV demonstrated many of the capabilities of a large UUV, although it did not have the conformal shape proposed for the actual system.

In this concept, the Mantas are a match for the outside conformal shape of the submarine bow, and detach and
reattach as missions dictate. They carry a suite of sensors, which augment the organic capability of the host platform when the Manta vehicles are docked. The concept also includes weapons and other devices, such as countermeasures and nontraditional sensors. The Manta can be sent into forward areas for both reconnaissance and offensive/defensive missions.

The Manta would reduce the risk to the submarine during certain missions in dangerous environments by eliminating the need for the larger platform to perform them independently. The large UUV Mantas would be sent into harm’s way at no risk to crew and can provide an extended standoff range for the submarine’s organic sensors.

What is it?
Manta is a concept for an autonomous surveillance and attack platform (a large format unmanned underwater vehicle, or UUV), which provides an extended reach for the submarine platform.

How does it work?
Mantas would match the outside conformal shape of the submarine bow, and detach and reattach as missions dictate. They would carry a suite of sensors, weapons, and other devices, such as countermeasures and nontraditional

What will it accomplish?
The Manta would reduce risk to the submarine during certain missions in dangerous environments by eliminating the
need for the larger platform to perform them independently.

Points of Contact
Kam Ng

SOURCE: - [PDF][Archived]

Technological and Operational Synergies
The Navy’s Vision: Manta

The U.S. Navy’s center of excellence for naval undersea warfare systems is the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) in Newport, Rhode Island. By developing the master plan, NUWC has created the Navy’s vision for the future in unmanned undersea systems, which includes a fleet of UUVs known as Mantas in support of manned platforms.14 Mantas are conceptual systems that extend the coverage of naval forces while greatly reducing the risk. These systems are envisioned to operate from standoff ranges, transit covertly to the mission area, and use advanced payloads to perform intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, tactical oceanography, and anti-submarine warfare. While their exact size, range, and cost has not been determined, Manta vehicles will be deployed from submarine or surface platforms.15 This envisioned system contains multiple vehicles that are attached to the outside of the hull of a submarine in a manner which would allow the submarine to operate quietly whether or not they were in place on the hull.

Technological and Operational Synergies
by Edward A. Johnson, Jr., Commander, U.S. Navy
February 2002
Occasional Paper No. 27
Center for Strategy and Technology, Air War College, Air University
Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama

Navy Submadrone
The Navy’s Vision: Manta

The Submadrone

Some spy planes are just cooler than others. How about this "swimming spy plane" under development at Lockheed Martin's "Skunk Works" labs for DARPA, dubbed the Cormorant.

The wings of this crazy drone are designed to fold in, allowing it to squeeze into the launch tube of a nuclear submarine. It could then be fired vertically from a sub for a airborne reconnaissance missions and then retrieved by small autonomous submarine after splashdown.

A few weeks back I wrote about several other drone designs under development at Lockheed Martin. And we've written a lot more about uncrewed spy planes too.

Posted by Will Knight, online technology editor at 5:42 PM

SOURCE: New Scientist Blog

Lockheed Martin MPUAV Cormorant

Uploaded on Feb 28, 2009

Nuclear-armed submarines, once a cornerstone of the Cold war deterrent, may soon find a new 21st century mission. Lockheed Martin is developing an unmanned aircraft that can be released from the ballistic missile tube of a Trident Submarine -- 150 feet underwater. Floating to the surface, its wings unfold, booster rockets fire, and it is airborne.

Called the Cormorant, this jet-powered autonomous aircraft could act as a spy plane or deliver firepower in a surgical strike. When the mission is over, the Cormorant receives computer signals from the submarine that can direct it to a rendezvous point.

Landing back in the sea, a tether is connected to the Cormorant by a robotic underwater vehicle and the aircraft can be reeled in to the submarine that is loitering just below the surface.

Made of titanium and other advanced materials, the Cormorant weighs about four tons. To compensate for underwater pressures that are three times greater than the maximum pressure that a typical aircraft can withstand, the inside of the Cormorant will be pressurized with inert gas or air. Smart, stealthy, and fast, the Cormorant's gull-like wings can fold and unfold around the body of the aircraft.

All Credit goes to Lockheed Martin

Youtube Link

The Aquatic Attack Drone
Cormorant Spy Plane Concept. Courtesy Lockheed Martin

The Aquatic Attack Drone

The military's new Cormorant jet floats, flies, and destroys enemy targets, all without a pilot. 


Cormorant Spy Plane Concept. Courtesy Lockheed Martin
The Navy's Swimming Spy Plane
Cormorant Spy Plane Concept. Courtesy Lockheed Martin

The Navy's Swimming Spy Plane
By Bill Sweetman Posted 02.21.2006 at 2:00 am

It floats, it flies, it eliminates enemy targets-meet the water-launched unmanned enforcer.

Lockheed Martin's Skunk Works, famed for the U-2 and Blackbird spy planes that flew higher than anything else in the world in their day, is trying for a different altitude record: an airplane that starts and ends its mission 150 feet underwater. The Cormorant, a stealthy, jet-powered, autonomous aircraft that could be outfitted with either short-range weapons or surveillance equipment, is designed to launch out of the Trident missile tubes in some of the U.S. Navy's gigantic Cold Warâ€era Ohio-class submarines. These formerly nuke-toting subs have become less useful in a military climate evolved to favor surgical strikes over nuclear stalemates, but the Cormorant could use their now-vacant tubes to provide another unmanned option for spying on or destroying targets near the coast.

This is no easy task. The tubes are as long as a semi trailer but about seven feet wide-not exactly airplane-shaped. The Cormorant has to be strong enough to withstand the pressure 150 feet underwater-enough to cave in hatches on a normal aircraft-but light enough to fly. Another challenge: Subs survive by stealth, and an airplane flying back to the boat could give its position away.

The Skunk Works's answer is a four-ton airplane with gull wings that hinge around its body to fit inside the missile tube. The craft is made of titanium to resist corrosion, and any empty spaces are filled with plastic foam to resist crushing. The rest of the body is pressurized with inert gas. Inflatable seals keep the weapon-bay doors, engine inlet and exhaust covers watertight.

The Cormorant does not shoot out of its tube like a missile. Instead an arm-like docking "saddle" guides the craft out, sending it floating to the surface while the sub slips away. As the drone pops out of the water, the rocket boosters fire and the Cormorant takes off. After completing its mission, the plane flies to the rendezvous coordinates it receives from the sub and lands in the sea. The sub then launches a robotic underwater vehicle to fetch the floating drone.

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (Darpa) is funding tests of some of the Cormorant's unique systems, including a splashdown model and an underwater-recovery vehicle. The tests should be completed by September, after which Darpa will decide whether it will fund a flying prototype. 

SOURCE: Popular Science

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