The Navy's new drone is a 'Flimmer' named WANDA

The US Navy thinks ducks — yes, the animal — are a good model for hunting down submarines. They can fly, swim, and dive, uniquely positioning them as a do-it-all model for hunting down submarines. The trouble is, ducks don't go where submarines go, and it might be hard to train a duck to look for submarines. Instead, the Navy is building a drone codenamed WANDA that can fly (of course), but also dive into the sea and hunt down submarines.

This new type of drone is known as a 'Flimmer', which is a awkward mash-up of flying swimmer. It has wings, like a drone, but also fins on the end of the wings to better steer it in water. The fins fold up while in flight for better stability, but work underwater (along with two other fins further up the body) to steer this dual-duty drone.

In flight, a Flimmer can cruise at about 57mph. Underwater, it'll get about 11mph. US Navy nuclear subs can cruise at up to 30mph underwater.

Flimmer is still a concept design, but the Navy is discussing them as the next step for at-sea sonar, taking the place of Sonobuoys. The stationary Sonobuoys are just buoys that also scan for subs using sonar; once a sub is out of range of the Sonobuoy, the Navy has lost track of it. A Flimmer, replete with sonar capabilities, can stay glued to the sub above or below sea level and track it as needed.

WANDA, short for "Wrasse-inspired Agile Near-shore Deformable-fin Automaton", is not currently due for deployment. If the Navy can work out the kinks, though, it could make for a very powerful tracking tool out at sea.

Source: US Navy

Via: Popular Science