Greek boat builder Barracuda recently introduced a new rigid inflatable boat (RIB) that is designed primarily to operate as an unmanned surface vehicle (USV) for military and civilian use.
Although slated for unmanned missions, the RIB may be optionally manned by two operators and still have space for up to 14 personnel. Its missions will include insertion and extraction of special operations forces, search and rescue (SAR), force protection, security of offshore platforms, battle damage assessment, and intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) in coastal and offshore waters. In future, the craft will also be equipped with a remotely operated crane for deploying sonar, making it suitable for the anti-submarine and mine countermeasures roles as well.
The RIB has an FRP hull, a length of 7.65 metres, a beam of 2.9 metres, a draught of 0.52 metres, and a displacement of 1.15 tonnes. The FRP hull is connected to side-forming air tubes with six separate air chambers to ensure the craft remains afloat even after suffering a tube puncture. The air chambers were also designed so that refilling can be performed only once every six years.
The hull walls also provide storage space for operator equipment.
The RIB was designed to be highly durable with a low centre of gravity so that operation is still possible even under sea state nine conditions. The builder added that even if the air chambers are fully deflated, the craft can still be operated under conditions of up to sea state six. This attribute makes the craft an ideal platform for SAR even in harsh coastal environments.
A pair of Mercury four-stroke outboard engines that each produce 167 kW propel the RIB to high cruising speeds of up to 29 knots and a sprint speed of 55 knots. The 930-litre fuel tank allows the boat to sail up to 500 nautical miles at cruising speed under sea state four. The fuel tank also has anti-explosion features for added safety.
Other safety features include a bilge pump and self-draining anchor equipment. The rollbar can be folded prone onto the deck to make the craft compact enough for transport via trailer or aircraft or for storage in a standard 20-foot cargo container.
Armament options meanwhile include a light anti-ship torpedo, a 40-millimetre grenade launcher, rocket launchers, and a 12.7-millimetre machine gun.
The design and construction of the craft are part of a privately-funded project. However, modifications may be made to suit the requirements of various customers in the defence and commercial sectors.
|7.65-metre Multi-Mission USV|
|Type of vessel:||USV – Rescue and special operations|
|Hull construction material:||FRP|
|Length overall:||7.65 metres|
|Main engines:||2 x Mercury outboards, each 167 kW|
|Maximum speed:||55 knots|
|Cruising speed:||29 knots|
|Range:||500 nautical miles|
|Other equipment installed:||Rollbar; air chambers; hull storage compartments|
|Armaments:||Torpedo; grenade launcher, 40 mm; rocket launchers; machine gun, 12.7 mm|
|Safety equipment:||Anti-explosion features for fuel tank|
|Fuel capacity:||930 litres|
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