Autonomous vessels, robotic systems for unmanned endurance blue water persistent duties




Test firing of the YJ -82 series of 'Eagle' 8 anti-ship missiles with increased range. Advances over the previous model include a better guidance system and move from solid rocket motors to a turbojet engine with longer fuel tank. China is using the Eagle -82 missiles on their new surface ships, including the 'brigade sea' class destroyers and 'Jiang Wei' class frigates.



The sinking of HMS Sheffield with a French-built anti-ship Exocet AM39 missile during the Falklands conflict, re-affirmed the notion that future naval battles will be won by cruise and SAM missile craft, provided that stray submarine activity is kept in check. Air superiority became a given from the 2nd World War Typhoons, which when armed with rockets, did as much damage on the ground in a few minutes, as a whole week's worth of ground fighting. Cruise missiles no longer need aircraft delivery, with SeaNet routine patrols. One would though need to be careful to avoid sovereign waters, or spark concerns.


The US and UK are busy building bigger aircraft carriers as a show of force, prompting the Chinese to develop ship launched cruise missiles to neutralize the threat. These can be fired from a surface fleet of well over 50 of their 220-ton Houbei Type 2208 missile catamarans. These ships are high-speed littoral vessels capable of between 36 to 50 knots (not known for sure), based on a  wave-piercing, low observability (radar cross-section-reduced) catamaran, to an Australian ferry design. The 2208 is a key component of current defence strategy.


A more powerful and cost effective long-term solution would be a SeaNet fleet of ScopionHKs.



Cruise missiles rocket launching from the deck of a ship


TARGET PRACTICE DRONE - Cruise missile variants being rocket launched from the deck of a US Navy warship. The BQM-74 Chukar is a series of aerial target drones produced by Northrop. They are recoverable, remote controlled, subsonic aerial target missiles, capable of speeds up to Mach 0.86 and altitudes from 30 to 40,000 ft (10 to 12,000 m).

The Chukar series began in the early 1960s with a US Navy requirement for a new target drone. The company developed a prototype with the company designation of NV-105 and featuring a delta wing, flying it in 1964. The delta wing didn't work out and was replaced by a straight wing, resulting in the NV-105A, which was first flown in 1965. The NV-105A was accepted by the Navy and went into production as the MQM-74A in 1968.

The MQM-74A had a neatly tapered cigar-shaped fuselage, straight mid-mounted wings, an under-slung jet engine with the intake under the wings, and a conventional tail configuration with the tailplanes set in an inverted vee. It was powered by a Williams International WR24-6 turbojet engine with a thrust of 121 pounds (538 N), and was launched by RATO booster from the ground or a ship. The Navy purchased 1,800 MQM-74A Chukar Is. Several hundred more were purchased in total by NATO for a multinational test range on the island of Crete, as well as the Royal Navy and the Italian Navy.

Chukar is the name of an Asian species of partridge, introduced to America and as they are hunted for sport. Northrop felt that the name was appropriate for an aircraft whose purpose in life is to be shot at.





A military version of the Bluefish zero carbon cruiser (ZCC) is to have up to four cruise missiles installed under the solar wings of the vessel. Two of these missiles will fire facing forward and two will fire backwards @ 1/20th scale to prove the concept.


This small scale model is not intended to be a real weapon, as in with explosives and a guidance system, though, there was much coverage on the subject in 2002-3, some of which articles are reproduced below as extracts.


Our agenda is simply to prove the concept that a small vessel of only 170 feet in length in total, can carry sufficient weaponry to sink aircraft carriers, destroyers, nuclear submarines, and any aircraft that threaten its own safety - regardless of the fact that there is no crew to keep safe - because it is an autonomous robot. A major plus in evaluating mission risks and priorities. There is though the value of the asset to protect, and that includes eliminating (and protecting) pirates on the high seas who might be foolish enough to get too close for their own safety. A Scorpion HK can optionally be manned and/or driven as a drone by remote HQ.


On our HKs the cruise missile will be mounted under the solar decks and launched horizontally using rockets, much as they launch Tomahawks from the decks of ships at the moment. The SAM missiles will be mounted on twin fore and aft turrets to enable rapid multiple target acquisition, independently. The same model will carry 1/20th scale SAM and torpedoes, such that the asset is seen as a serious deterrent to any would be aggressor. 


Normally, a ship that carries cruise missiles is considerably bigger than a Scorpion HK. Size of course equals cost of build, launch and general upkeep. By keeping a warship small, yet still big enough to carry such armaments, the cost of of fielding a serious deterrent on a continuous basis, is kept low enough that national debts might be managed sustainably.


An autonomous warship saves weight and volume by not having to provision for a crew, provide sleeping quarters, entertainment, laundry and toilets, etc. This means more room for weapons and sensors. There is also no need for heating or cooling, or other support for respiration.


A unmanned robotic Scorpion HK combat battleship

A Scorpion HK combat warship - fitted with 4 x SAM turrets (one per quadrant), for 360 degree independent cover. Each SAM turret carries 8 missiles (Rapier example), giving a battery of 32 rockets to fend off enemy aircraft. The micro battleship is also shown here with 4 Tomahawk cruise missiles in protected bays, fore and aft, and 4 x 21" MK48  torpedoes in the outriggers - all drawn to scale - as a prelude to proof of concept. The torpedoes and cruise missiles would not be visible, but we've shown them as though the drawing were an x-ray. The OAL of this clever design is 52.7m or 171 feet. She is designed to cruise all day and night at 7-10 knots on energy from nature - and sprint up to 25knots (depending on specification) in attack mode. This original concept vessel is design copyright © BMS Ltd 2014. The technology is also patent applied for. 



If the plan is to overwhelm an enemy's carrier strike force, this is the vessel to do it. A force of 5 or more robots operating in SeaNet fashion will present an unacceptable threat of annihilation to any group of warships foolish enough to enter sovereign waters. Quite literally, they will be blown away - and the Scorpion HKs are disposable items, with no risk of losing human life. It's Kamikaze role reversal - with an encroaching enemy sure to die trying.





Apart from the fact that once launched there are no fuel costs, the unique hull design of these naval drones provides a degree of flexibility that is unparallel in naval military history - especially for such a compact craft.


To now, it has not been possible to use one basic design platform to undertake so many different military functions. On this page we take a look at the method of housing and firing cruise missiles of an equivalent size to the very popular Tomahawk series and generic Chinese and Russian clones. The 1/20th scale is just big enough to be able to use components and materials that are commonly available in most well stocked hobby and hardware stores.











Matt Spade's ICBM's and the ingenious launch mechanism inside the subs hull.





Not quite the same as a cruise missile, but in the spirit of model testing and development, Matt Spade of Georgia has successfully fired Propel gas powered missiles from his large RC boomer - missile submarine model. The missiles are filled with Propel and set into the model with the firing pins in place. A command from the transmitter pushes the missile off the pin and the gas is released, so launching the missile from the sub. It doesn't get much cooler than that.


Matt's design is fully explained in the SubCommittee Report article - "Launch This" Issue number 21 - June 1995. You can order a copy from Ray Mason has in depth coverage of Matt Spade's missiles on one of his SubCommittee Video Reports. In it, Matt shows how they are built and fired from his sub.

If you are interested in actually seeing how these work, you can buy a copy of Ray Mason's SubRegatta video (Volume III 1995), which includes Matt's very superb missile boat demo and instructions on doing it yourself. Ray mounts his underwater camera on the missile deck of Matt's sub and captures the missiles leaving the boat. On another one of Ray's tapes, David Santivinez demonstrates a Soviet Alfa that leaps out of the water and fires four gas powered torpedoes through the air before the sub splashes back into the water. Yup, this is EXTREMELY cool! Please note that missiles and torpedoes aren't for beginners so be careful when experimenting and/or giving demonstrations.


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The SubCommittee is a not-for-profit organization of members from around the globe who share an interest in building model submarines. As a group they are dedicated to the advancement of the submarine modeling hobby. The SubCommittee was created in 1990 as a network of like minded submarine enthusiasts to pool their resources. According to their website, the founding members were Ken Hart and Marshall Clark.

In pursuance of the shared interest in submarines SubCommittee compile specific information on the latest techniques for building model submarines, both for static display and radio-control, reviews of model kits, and sources of modeling supplies. Sc's interest also extends to the history and design of submarines of all nations and eras, research and reference material about submarines, the collecting of submarine memorabilia and anything else submarine related.

SubCommittee members are some of the most knowledgeable submarine historians around. They have served as consultants for museums, authors, and film-makers. SC's ranks contain former submariners from several navies. This includes the late submarine legend Edward L. "Ned" Beach a former member.

Direct contact between members by phone, email, letter, and our message boards is promoted. The SubCommittee is at its core an information network of friends helping friends. 


The SubCommittee brought together outstanding modelers from around the world and pooled their resources in the SubCommittee Report, or SCR, the world's first magazine dedicated to submarine modelling.




With membership growth SC held their first international meeting called: SubRegatta. SubRegatta was so successful that it became an annual event, initially hosted by the U.S. Submarine Base in Groton, CT. The event moved to Johnston, RI following the commencement of the War on Terror in 2001. SubRegatta subsequently moved to Carmel, IN in 2005 and has been held there to this day.





Tubes . 10
Nose & tail . 80
Paints . 10
Compressed air system . 100
Fins . 10
Propellant . 40
Firing mechanisms . 50
Sensors . 100
RC controls . 150
Fastenings . 20
Labour: fabrication 8 days 800
Premises 1 month 600
Modelers insurance . 100
. . .
Project build Sub Total £   2070
. . .
Contingency @ 35% £ 724.5
. . .
. Build Total £ 2794.5



1/5th and 1/10th SCALE MODEL UPSCALE


Models to 1/10th scale (5 meters or 16 feet) and 1/5th scale ( 10 meters or 32 feet) could be produced that would be useful oceanographic tools, and/or naval weapons. At the moment there is no funding available to us for such research.






Alvin DSV - Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Deepsea Challenger - Mariana Trench, James Cameron 2012

HMS Astute 1st of Class

HMS Vanguard- Trident

INS Sindhurakshak - explosion & sinking

Littoral combat vessels

Lusitania - Torpedo attack

Nuclear submarines lost at sea

Predator - Covert submarine hunter/killer

Seawolf - Autonomous wolf pack deployment of Predator mini-subs

Torpedoes - UUV anti submarine weapons

Trieste - World record depth - Mariana Trench 1960

U20 - Kapitan Leutnant Walther Schwieger

USS Alabama

USS Bluefish WWI submarine

USS Bluefish - Nuclear submarine

USS Flying Fish

USS Jimmy Carter - Seawolf class fast attack nuclear submarine

USS Nautilus - 1st nuclear submarine & subsea north pole passage

USS North Dakota - 11th Virginia class submarine 

USS Scorpion - Lost at sea with all hands




RC-submarines torpedoes

PT boat contra rotating electric torpedo

Sub Committee

The Guardian June 2003 Terrorism David Fickling

Aardvark DIY cruise missiles
BBC World news asia-pacific DIY cruise missile from New Zealing

Hackaday 2010 diy-guided-missile-err-model-rocket

Giaoduc Hoc gia My Cac nuoc o Bien Dong nen hop suc day Trung Quoc 1 bai hoc post

Andrew Erickson 2010 combined arms anti ship exercise in east china sea 30 june 5 july

Indian Defence China anti ship missile













A New Zealand man who built a cruise missile in his garage claims the New Zealand government forced him to shut down his project after coming under pressure from the United States.

Bruce Simpson says he built the missile using parts bought off the internet to show how easily it could be done.

He says he attracted considerable interest from potential buyers - including an offer from Iran to pay him for details of his research.

"The New Zealand government at first said I had done nothing illegal. But then a US official was quoted as saying it was 'extremely unhelpful', " Mr Simpson told BBC News Online.

"The authorities here finally decided to bankrupt me over a tax debt and I have now had to give the missile to a friend for safe keeping."

Although his own missile building days have come to an end, he believes he has proved his point - "that by using off-the-shelf technology in a suburban garage a terrorist can create a weapon against which there is no effective defence."

New Zealand officials have said they cannot comment for reasons of "secrecy". 



Bruce Simpson - DIY rocket man


Bruce Simpson - DIY rocket man




Don't worry about Russia's bioweapon laboratories and North Korea's nuclear programme: the greatest threat to world security is sitting in a shed in New Zealand.

A model aircraft enthusiast from North Island claims to have made a cruise missile in his shed for £3,000, and plans to publish instructions for making it online.

Bruce Simpson bought his missile's GPS positioning system on eBay for £75 and its flight control system mostly from online hobby stores for less than £300.

He says it will have a range of 100km, travel at up to 800km per hour and be able to carry a 10kg warhead to within 100m of its target.

Using a pulse jet engine similar to those used by German V1 rockets during the second world war, he believes the missile could be carried around in a pick-up truck and launched from a roadside.

"Obviously the goal of this website it not to provide terrorists or other nefarious types with the plans for a working cruise missile, but to prove that nations need to be prepared for this type of sophisticated attack," his site says.

Mr Simpson has previously made a jet-powered go-kart and used jet engines to warm his tea. His website, entitled "A DIY cruise missile - watch me build one for under NZ$5,000", has reported receiving 250,000 hits in two weeks.

Doug Richardson, editor of Jane's Missiles and Rockets, said that the missile would not be a serious security risk. "You can make a basic cruise missile quite cheaply, but it's creating something that could evade defensive systems that's more difficult," he added.

A police spokeswoman declined to comment on whether Mr Simpson would be investigated, but said: "It's not something we recommend people to try at home."




Chinese Anti-Ship Cruise Missile Firing as Part of Combined Arms Anti-Carrier Exercises in the East China Sea, 30 June-5 July 2010. The PLA carried out “live firing training” in a relatively small box-shaped area off Zhejiang Province. The theme of the combined arms exercises was to demonstrate the ability to attack surface ships by a Carrier Strike Group (CSG), may have been to dissuade the U.S. Navy from holding exercises of a carrier strike group with its South Korean counterpart in areas near China’s territorial waters. Such events being seen as potentially hostile and at the very least threatening.

The coordinated maneuvers by East Sea Fleet fast attack surface ships and aircraft, involved anti-ship cruise missile launches by surface ships such as the

Houbei Type 022 missile catamaran with its YJ-83 anti-ship cruise missiles. The Chinese Navy advocate the employment of multi-axis “saturation” attacks against a carrier strike force, in which both ballistic missiles launched from land-based mobile transporter erector launchers (TELs) and cruise missiles launched from ships or submarines might be used in coordinated strikes designed to disable a carrier strike group’s defenses by overwhelming them.




You Can Already Buy All The Bits

Cruise Missile Cruise missiles such as the Raytheon Tomahawk have proven themselves as an extremely cost-effective method of delivering a wide range of ordinance with pin-point accuracy against targets that may be up to 1,000 miles from the launch point.

By using mil-spec GPS, highly sophisticated terrain recognition systems and a raft of other previously top-secret technologies, the cruise missile allows its owner to deliver a powerful offensive strike against an enemy with no risk to its own troops or vehicles.

However, during the past decade, huge strides have been made in commercializing much of the technology on which the cruise missile is based and it is my firm belief that building a low-cost, autonomous, self-guided, air-breathing missile with a significant payload capability is now well within the reach of almost any person or small group of persons with the necessary knowledge and skills.


As mentioned above, one of the key components of a cruise missile's guidance system is a mil-spec satellite-based GPS system.

Today, compact, high quality, high accuracy GPS receivers are readily available for just a few hundred dollars. The inclusion of an easily used computer interface in many of these units makes them well suited for use in a low-cost cruise missile (LCCM).

While the GPS provides information necessary for tracking waypoints and identifying the final destination, smaller course corrections (for stability) can be provided by the solid-state gyro systems now readily available for use in model helicopters and aircraft.

Instantaneous measurement of altitude and groundspeed can be provided by a semi-forward looking radar and doppler radar units (possibly built around components such as these and these. This allows a the LCCM to fly lower than would be possible if relying solely on GPS and offers a degree of contour-hugging even when the exact nature of the terrain is not available.

The gyroscopic and radar-based systems could also provide an inertial backup guidance facility in the event that the GPS system was lost, blocked or simply turned off when an attack by such LCCMs was imminent or underway.




A JH-7A fighter carries the YJ-91 anti-ship missile with similar dimensionss and tactical capabilities as the "Eagle-91" which France and Germany developed with ANS missiles. The "Eagle-91" supersonic anti-radiation missile offers high flight speeds to enhance lethality, to effectively attack large surface ships such as the U.S. Ticonderoga & Burke class if using AN/SPY-1 Aegis phased array guidance radar. 

The "Eagle-91" also can be able to be used interchangeably, with different frequency passive radar seeker bands, to attack ground radar targets, and AWACS. The "Eagle-91" cruise missile has an active radar seeker to independently attack ship targets. Its range is up to 120 km. The approach sea-skimming cruise phase altitude is maintained at 20 meters. During the attack phase, altitude is reduced to 7 meters above the sea, finally going to 1.2m, so that the target ship's radar cannot see it.



Onboard Computing

As Moore's law continues to produce a rapid rise in the speed and fall in the cost of computer chips, we've already reached the point where obtaining sufficient number crunching capability is no longer difficult or expensive.

Single-board computer systems are another readily available off the shelf component that can be recruited for use in an LCCM. Even the sophisticated realitime operating systems necessary for supporting the type of software needed to interface the guidance/targeting systems to the control servos are just a download away.


Since an LCCM would be designed to fly at subsonic speeds (probably around 450-500 mph) the aerodynamic design of such a craft is relatively simple and there is plenty of resource material available to assist in such an undertaking.

Indeed, the fact that so many very successful radio-controlled model aircraft have been designed and built from scratch by talented amateurs testifies to the viability of such an option.

LCCM-specific factors that need to be taken into account when designing and constructing the airframe include the need for a low heat signature and low radar profile.

The use of materials such as fiberglass and kevlar composites would go a long way towards reducing the radar profile of such a craft, as would the insight gained from a close inspection of the masking techniques used on the existing generation of stealth craft.

Experimentation with coatings containing finely ground ferrites may even offer some degree of radar absorbsion. The heat signature of a suitable engine could be significantly reduced by judicious entraining of slipstream air to dilute and cool the jet exhaust prior to ejection behind the craft. At the cost of some thrust, the jet efflux could also be channeled so that the engine itself is not visible even from a rear view.


The realization of just how practical an LCCM has become came to me when I was doing development on my pulsejet engines - since they would make an ideal low-cost powerplant for such a vehicle.

V1 Buzz Bomb The fact that the German V1 "flying bomb", perhaps the first practical implementation of the cruise missile concept, was also powered by a pulsejet speaks volumes for the practicality of using such a powerplant today.

Traditional pulsejets would not be the best choice for an LCCM however as their very hot exhaust would make them an easy target for even the most primitive heat-seeking missile and their astonishingly poor fuel-efficiency plus limited reliability would reduce the LCCM's practical range.

A small turbojet (or the XJet) engine with 100lb-500lb of thrust however, would be the perfect powerplant - offering a high level of reliability and longer ranges without the need for an excessive fuel-load.




The export-oriented C-802A anti-ship missile developed by China's Haiying Electromechanical Technology Research Institute, also known as Eagle-2, which is an improved version of the C801, adding length and more cruise range with a turbo-jet engine, radio altimeter performance more powerful warhead. The C802 missile has a shore-to-ship, ship-to-ship and air-to-ship capability - and not only equips the Chinese navy and air force, but is also exported to Bangladesh, Pakistan, Thailand, Indonesia and other places. Iran has established a C-802 anti-ship missile assembly line because the C802 anti-ship missile system is ideal for coastal bases and a wide range of sea defenses, such as needed for the Strait of Hormuz against enemy destroyers, frigates, landing craft and other ships.



Launch Facilities

Most existing hi-tech cruise missiles are designed for launch by way of a solid-rocket booster to get them up to flying speed, or they're dropped from an aircraft already flying at speed and altitude.

The V1s of WW2 were launched using a catapult system powered by a mix of nitric acid and hydrogen peroxide.

None of these systems would be required for an LCCM. A simple launch attachment could be fitted to the roof of an SUV or truck that would allow the takeoff speed of around 70mph to be achieved. At that point the engine could be ignited and the craft released.

Using this method, a reasonable sized LCCM could be transported by road to a position within range of the desired target, unpacked, prep'd and then launched from a deserted stretch of roadway within a few minutes.


Cruise missiles can carry just about any payload required in the theater of war.

High explosives are the most common payload but probably the least attractive to a terrorist group - since, to be effective, these explosives do require very accurate targeting and represent a higher level of risk during the transport and launch phase.

More attractive would probably be some form of biological agent (anthrax, nerve gas, poison, etc) or even some type of nuclear material. the LCCM could be programmed to disperse its payload over a large area of high population with massive potential for death and injury in a manner that would be very difficult to defend against.




The C-705 anti-ship missile is based on the C-704 with an improved guidance system and new solid rocket engine improvements. The installation of a seeker adds GPS and Beidou navigation and waypoint planning, with anti-interference ability, and television or infrared seekers. The new thrust rocket engine improves combat range from 140km to 170km. The C705 air-launched anti-ship missile system is suitable for airborne and ground-based multi-platform loading, designed mainly for use against frigates and medium-sized sea targets. 



Chinese long range vortex turbine supersonic missile


The 3M-54E is a Chinese long range supersonic cruise missile with rocket acceleration to mach 2.9 for improved penetration and attack capabilities.



At What Cost

The electronics (guidance/targeting, control systems, etc) could be purchased for less than $2,000. An airframe, built using the type of foam-composite construction found in a number of home-built light aircraft would cost between $1,000 and $5,000 depending on the size of the craft. The engine would cost between $500 and $150,000 depending on the type and size. Turbojets/turbofans are significantly more expensive than pulsejets and would be far more likely to ring "warning bells" if they were purchased in quantity by someone without an established track record or presence in the aviation marketplace so a simple pulsejet would be the most prudent option for a terrorist group.

The total component costs for an LCCM (less payload) could be as little as $6,000 for the smallest, simplest version, with a larger, more sophisticated design still requiring little more than $10,000 worth of parts and materials.

The real costs would come from the integration of all these components and the development of the software required to link the guidance/targeting systems to the aircraft's control systems. However, suitable resources are available in many eastern-bloc countries and doubtless could be purchased on a "no questions asked basis." This development cost is also a one-off expense that would be effectively amortized across the number of individual units constructed.

There is even a very good chance that the development costs could be quickly recouped by selling the resulting design to other parties interested in constructing similar LCCMs.

The cost of the payload carried by the LCCM would depend entirely on nature of that material - but it would appear that those bent on terrorism have little difficulty in obtaining explosives or biological warfare agents. 




Norwegian-based Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace firm has been developing the Naval Strike Missile, one of the most agile cruise missiles and soon-to-be weapon of choice for the F-35 Lightning II stealth fighter. The sophisticated 900-pound missile is equipped with GPS, inertial and terrain reference systems, enabling it to stealthily maneuver along all kinds of terrain such as the coastline, oceans and over land. To avoid radar detection, it's capable of cruising in "sea-skim mode" just above the ocean's surface. It can also pull off quick random high-G-force maneuvers to prevent getting shot down at the very last second. A combination of an imaging infrared (IIR) seeker and an onboard target database ensures that the missile can seek out and detect targets up to 100 nautical miles away with pinpoint precision.





Where Tomahawk cruise missiles are so expensive, a Scorpion HK could be fitted with four LLCMs with a reduced range and payload, that would still be sufficient to take out a warship, and yet reduce the cost of a ZCC battle cruiser significantly.












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