30 March 2023
Armed USV (Unmanned Surface Vessel) built in Greece
Major progress is reported regarding the development of one more Greek USV – Unmanned Surface Vessel. SuperTermoli develops a heavily-armored USV ST50 for the Hellenic Navy.
Note that, a couple of years ago, INTRACOM Defense and Barracuda presented the Greek USV «Sea Rider». INTRACOM performed the vessel design and installation of communication systems in order to operate from an external platform. On the contrary, Barracuda carried on the construction of the USV in Athens.
Considering the reported progress on the Turkish USV «ULAQ», the design and development of a greek vessel was a national need. So far, the Sea Rider forms a good first basis, but due to size, it presents some incapabilities. Note that, Sea Rider is a short inflatable boat and thus is not as capable. Nevertheless, it is still an important establishment that has the potential for further development.
Currently, SuperTermoli develops a heavily-armored USV for the Hellenic Navy. Particularly, the new USV ST50 (SuperTermoil 50feet) is in a detailed design process. It is based on the successful highspeed craft designs by Luciano Facchini and Greek construction.
Moreover, the 14.6m long USV ST50 will have a 10ton displacement. With a fuel tank capacity of 3,000lt, the vessel secures a 300NM range of action, under economical operation. Additionally, the 2 inboard engines (SEATEK or MAN) with 800hp total propulsion power propel the ST50 to the maximum speed of 60kts. Nonetheless, it incorporates Jolly Drive shafting systems and Silprop propellers.
The USV ST50 opposes great potential with the main advantage, its large displacement that allows the installation of 3 different arming systems. Οne 20mm quick-fire gun οn the fore, one small surface launcher at the middle, and one dual torpedo launcher at the aft.
The subject vessel may incorporate an indicative MMP launcher from the French MBDA and one dual A244/S Mod 3 torpedo launcher from the Italian Leonardo. Both incorporate lightweight construction for small vessel applications. However, the prescribed defense equipment is totally indicative since each vessel will adjust to the operator’s needs.
The vessel complements its electronic facilities with the surface radar and a Forward-Looking InfraRed (FLIR) camera for target recognition.
With the current defense system configuration, the vessel aims in the offense against the rival naval units, considering the following factors.
- High speed
- Exploitation of the archipelago environment
- Sudden short distance interventions
- Small electromagnetic footprint
Another advantage of the ST50 is the low construction cost which allows building more units in order to achieve multiple attacks.
Nonetheless, there is potential for a larger USV based on the ST60 and the two models of the company. Namely, «DIMOS» and «FOVOS» are a chase and a crew transfer – ammunition supply vessels respectively.
The Turkish Programme
ULAQ is designed for operations such as; data collection, identification, patrol, escort, ammunition and cyber attacks. It is controllable either from the shore or the mothership. Note that Meteksan and Ares are developing the vessel for the Turkish navy.
According to the schedule, there are three more editions of ULAQ; one anti-submarine war vessel with 324mm torpedos, one anti-mine vessel, and one anti-ship missile Atmaca with 4-6 shots.
The 11m long USV can reach the speed of 35kts and has an approximate 215NM operation range. Furthermore, the vessel incorporates a high-range quad Cirit rocket launcher of 8km, and a dual UMTAS long-range anti-tank missile system with laser guiding.
In any case, the mass production of the Turkish ULAQ will oppose a threat to the Hellenic navy fleet. Therefore, the Greek government should not only take measurements to face ULAQ but also revert with an equal answer. Hence, build the Greek USV concepts with similar or even enhanced capabilities.
The point is to make good use of these high-performance low-cost solutions concurrently with the resurrection of the Greek defense industry.