Talisman with dual benefits

BAE Systems

has launched Talisman, an autonomous unmanned underwater vehicle which can operate both automatically and manually.

The multi-modular, multi-role system has been designed to undergo maritime littoral operations and according to project manager Andy Tonge represents the culmination of a co-ordinated approach that involved the group’s air and sea divisions.

‘Talisman demonstrates that we have the ability to respond rapidly to a task and get it right first time,’ said Tonge. Using rapid prototyping techniques a team of fewer than 20 worked on the project, which was launched in late 2004.

The vehicle, which Tonge said can be remotely operated from virtually anywhere in the world, is based on a carbon fibre composite hull which contains its electronics systems and payload. Its thruster pods allow it to hover, and make 360 degrees turns within its own length.

‘Talisman is a fully autonomous underwater vehicle that has communications capabilities built into it,’ said Tonge. ‘At certain times in its mission it will surface and ask for permission to do certain things, such as transfer data back to an end user, or ask if it can go on to the next stage of its mission.’

Communications between operator and Talisman are via RF or Iridium SatCom while on the surface, and by acoustic communications systems when under water.

The vehicle is fitted with a suite of environmental sensors as standard. Other payloads are specific to the mission, and can include sonar systems or other unmanned underwater vehicles such as Archerfish, BAE’s expendable mine destruction system.

Talisman has already undergone a series of successful sea trials, and further tests are planned for this year, with the aim of widening the payloads and systems that can be integrated into the vehicle.

‘Our aim with Talisman has been to develop a concept demonstrator which will allow us to display our capabilities to the world and to show our long-term aspirations in this marketplace,’ said Andy Williams, managing director of BAE Systems Underwater Systems.