Unmanned surface combatant considerations for concept exploration
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This capstone project explored the operational and design considerations/constraints for an autonomous Unmanned Surface Combatant (USC). Using a USC in selected missions could lead to cost reductions and enhanced capabilities when compared with similar manned combatants by eliminating personnel and automating ship operations. Operations and Support (O&S) costs, which include personnel costs, are a large portion of the Navy's total ownership costs (TOC) for surface combatants, and can be as high as 38 percent of the TOC. Enhanced capabilities for a USC could be derived from performing operational activities manned ships cannotand automated tasks could be performed more efficiently and effectively by a computer system than a human. A modified waterfall systems engineering process model was used to explore a USC concept. A needs analysis was performed, and mine warfare and anti-submarine warfare were identified as appropriate military missions for an initial USC concept. Top level constraints for a USC concept and support missions were developed. Design considerations, relevant technologies, and concept risks were investigated. This capstone project concluded that a lower cost, higher capability autonomous USC is possible based on the current state of relevant technologies. However there are significant technical challenges to overcome before full autonomy is possible. Further, more rigorous design studies are recommended.
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NPS Report NumberNPS-SE-11-007
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