Photo Credit: courtesy, Elbit Systems Ltd.
The 'Seagull' USV (unmanned surface vehicle) can fire torpedoes underwater against enemy submarines.

Israeli defense firm Elbit Systems Ltd. has for the first time ever, successfully tested a 12-meter-long unmanned surface vessel (USV), complete with launching a torpedo.

The system is comprised of replaceable mission modules, with two vessels capable of being operated and controlled in concert using a single Mission Control System (MCS), from manned ships or from the shore. According to Elbit the system provides “mission planning and on-line operation in known and unknown areas, including area survey, search, detection, classification, identification, neutralization and verification. It is equipped to search the entire water volume and operate underwater vehicles to identify and neutralize mines.”

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The Seagull was tested in the waters of the Mediterranean Sea off Israel’s northern coastline near Haifa. The trial successfully proved the system’s ability to install, carry and launch lightweight torpedoes (underwater missiles).

“The success of this test demonstrates Seagull’s modular mission system capability, enabling a highly effective ASW (anti-submarine warfare) configuration of high-performance dipping sonar using two single tube torpedoes,” said Ofer Ben-Dov, Elbit Systems Vice President of the Naval Systems Business Line ISTAR Division.

“The test highlighted Seagull’s capacity to detect and engage submarines in addition to its ability to detect and destroy sea mines, all using the same multi-mission USV system in modular configurations.

“This new and important capability has, to date, only been available to navies through manned vehicles,” Ben-Dov explained.

The USV is to be used in unmanned maritime missions such as anti-submarine warfare, counter-mine operations, or the protection of offshore oil and gas rigs such as those currently operating in Israel’s Tamar and Leviathan gas reserves, among numerous others.

There have been numerous threats to Israel’s natural gas fields by the Lebanon-based Hezbollah terror organization as well as by the Lebanese government and others over the past several years.

The new Seagull USV will be a new and versatile element in the defense system employed to protect those assets, as well as defend Israel’s coastline from Iranian and other potential terrorist suppliers attempting to provide arms and other contraband to Hamas in Gaza.

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.