Remote control security at sea

Qinetiq’s latest unmanned reconnaissance craft boasts far more capability than meets the eye.

It may look like a giant floating flat iron, but Qinetiq’s latest unmanned reconnaissance and surveillance craft boasts far more capability than meets the eye.

The stealthy Sentry — which is 3.5m long, with a beam of 1.25m and a height above the waterline of 1.1m — is designed to carry out missions ranging from remote harbour patrol and security, battlefield reconnaissance, damage assessment and intruder investigation.

The water-jet-propelled vessel is said to reach speeds of up to 50 knots and can run for six hours before refuelling.

According to Qinetiq, the craft has a modular configuration that allows for simple upgrades or modifications. It can be operated from a PC-based remote control operations console from a distance of up to 16 nautical miles, thanks to secure and enhanced radio frequency control.

The basic payload that could be installed on Sentry includes microwave datalink communications, day or night high resolution cameras, a full lighting rig, a tannoy system to enable the remote operator to communicate with intruders, and a smoke marker launcher.

There is also an option for Sentry to operate independently, using an autonomous system control module and mission planning software.

‘Combining many of the key research aspects from our autonomous control, stealth and marine vessel design programmes with tried and tested commercial water-jet-propelled design, Sentry has speed, agility, reliability and good endurance, plus the ability to fulfil a growing number of requirements,’ said Andrew Bailey, managing director of Qinetiq’s sea business.