Coming soon to stretch of horizon near you. The U.S. Navy has just announced that it has successfully launched an aerial surveillance drone from a submerged submarine. The way it works is this: a) the drone is inserted inside a “Sea Robin” launch vehicle, which in turn is inserted into a Tomahawk missile canister; b) the Tomahawk canister is placed inside a torpedo tube and fired off; c) once outside the sub, the Sea Robin is released from the Tomahawk canister and bobs to the surface, where it looks like a common spar buoy; and finally d) the aerial drone (known as an Experimental Fuel Cell Unmanned Aerial System, or XFC UAS, in Navy-speak) shoots off into the air from the floating Sea Robin (as seen in the photo above).
The only reason I’m sharing this with you is so you won’t question your sanity if you’re sailing around somewhere and see a giant mechanical flying bug suddenly shoot out of some harmless-looking buoy you’ve spotted. Or maybe you’ve already seen this and are now gulping down Prozac, as the system was tested recently in the Bahamas. FYI, the drones can stay aloft for six hours and can send video feed to interested recipients.
I had something similar to this happen to me once. I was sailing up to Maine from Bermuda and southeast of Cape Cod found myself surrounded by spouting whales. Then up came a spout a bit larger and more vertical than the others, and out of that spout a solid object shot straight into the air 100 feet or so. The object then took a sharp turn and flew off in a huge arc across the sky in the general direction of Europe.
I’ve always assumed this was an SRI (submarine related incident), but who knows? Maybe the whales have been conducting missile tests of their own.
Whales are much too peaceful creatures to be conducting missile tests of any sort. The drone shot scenario you detail has me wondering exactly what the cost is per hour of surveillance shot, and wtf they’d be looking at/for? Another example of our tax dollars at work- (for whom?), while the allotment for feeding the ever increasing poor of the nation is cut by Congress, homelessness rises beyond all previous numbers, et. al. ad infinitem. While they argue to raise or not to raise the non-livable minimum wage, the manufacture and use of surveillance and kill drones is on the mega rise. I wonder what the budgetary figures for this new and terrible step towards a potentially Terminator war of the drones future for us all this may entail?
@Sailon: I hear you, brother (or sister, as the case may be). Follow the link to the announcement and you’ll see they brag about it only taking six years to develop this and how cheap it was (though they don’t give the price). Only in military-contractor land does six years equal ASAP and billions of dollars equals affordable.