Looking like a stealth fighter merged with a boat, these new Stealth Drone Boats are the equivalent of the unmanned drone aircraft used by the UK and U.S. military in the war on terror. The aptly named “Eclipse” unmanned surveillance vessels are invisible to radar, can operate in all weather conditions 24 hours a day, travel at 60 MPH and can be fitted with enough weaponry to take on its intended adversary: Pirates and Terrorists operating in small boats.
Featuring state-of-the-art technology that allows it to undertake search and rescue missions or patrol dangerous waters without requiring crew, they have a range of up to 600 nautical miles and can idle at low speeds for up to 10 days without refueling. Powered by two 500 horsepower jet drives made by Rolls Royce, the Eclipse range of boats also can be built with $985,000 gyroscopic HD cameras which take pictures of their surroundings, analyzing them for potential threats and and transmitting information back to a manned control station. The boats can be decked out with weaponry including a high powered fire hose, a cannon that fires nets to foul propellers and even a 50 caliber machine gun.
These incredible vessels belongs to the world’s first fleet of remote-controlled ‘robo-boats’ designed to take on dangerous and covert missions without endangering the lives of any crew. They can see in the dark thanks to infrared cameras and can also identify radiological and chemical matter, detect underwater mines and profile the sea bed underneath. As well as the flagship 35 ft. Oscar model, the fleet features a small 3-metre jet-ski style boat called the Sea Serpent that can be deployed from another boat and a 35 ft. semi-inflatable powerboat named Bravo capable of operating with crew or unmanned. The price tag starts at $394,000 for a basic Sea Serpent – and goes up to a whopping $3 million for the basic Oscar boat. The boats can operate by remote control and can also be programmed to carry out missions entirely on their own.
The fleet has been designed by engineers in Abu Dhabi by American military robotics experts 5G International. Keith Henderson, spokesman for Al Seer Marine, said:
“Our fleet of USVs is unique. Various companies have prototype boats but none offer a whole fleet. The size and type of USV depends very much on the kind of mission you want to send it on. We have something for everything – our fleet is the first in the world. The drones have a range of up to 600 nautical miles and can loiter at low speeds for 10 days without refueling. They use cutting edge technology to carry out high speed chases and provide top level surveillance while at the same time operating totally undetected. Unlike with manned boats you don’t have to worry about a crew getting sea sick, tired or even scared. The boats themselves are built with a radar reflective superstructure allowing them to scatter radar signals rather than bouncing them back. They can travel in shallow water or deep oceans, and are barely affected by weather. We believe our boats will be at the forefront of the fight against piracy, and crucial to search and rescue missions around the world.”