Military Embedded Systems

Autonomous sea boats to be produced with BAE Systems, Royal Navy

News

July 02, 2020

Emma Helfrich

Associate Editor

Military Embedded Systems

Autonomous sea boats to be produced with BAE Systems, Royal Navy
BAE Systems photo.

UNITED KINGDOM. During Armed Forces Week, BAE Systems and the Royal Navy announce a $3.9 million (£3.2 million) autonomous boat contract intended to increase the Navy’s capabilities while protecting sailor’s lives.

The autonomous capabilities of BAE Systems’ Pacific 24 (P24) Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB), a staple in the Royal Navy surface fleet, could enhance the Royal Navy’s ability to protect its sailors at reach, as the upgraded sea boat is designed to be able to execute its own missions without crew and be run from a warship. Such missions could include anti-piracy operations, border control, persistent intelligence gathering, maritime security, and force protection.

The autonomous P24 has been procured under the Royal Navy’s autonomy and lethality accelerator program, Navy X, which aims to deliver new technology into the hands of sailors and marines at pace.

The launch of the sea boat took place at Trafalgar Wharf, Portsmouth, earlier this month, in spite of the challenges posed by the current COVID-19 pandemic. Accordoing to officials, BAE Systems and Navy X will continue to collaborate on the development of its first autonomous P24 which is carrying out a series of acceptance trials throughout 2020.

The success of these trials could determine whether the Royal Navy decides to upgrade or procure an entire fleet of such craft. This could include their adoption on future classes of warships, such as the Type 26 or Type 31 frigate.