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19/07/23: Unmanned boat MANTAS T-12 (Australia-USA)

In the United States, a variety of unmanned surface vessels are being developed. An active participant in these processes is the American branch of the Australian company Maritime Tactical Systems (MARTAC). It offers customers various unmanned systems, incl. products of the MANTAS series. One of the most advanced and successful examples of this family is the T-12 unmanned boat.


More information: https://www.esc.guide/martac


unmanned direction

The Australian company MARTAC and its American branch have been developing technologies for creating crewless ships for a long time. These technologies are used in the development of specific models of equipment, which are then brought to the market. Now MARTAC offers its customers boats of two series - Devil Ray and MANTAS. The first series includes boats of traditional architecture, and the products of the second are built according to a semi-submersible scheme.


In January 2018, at the annual symposium of the Association of Surface fleet, SNA-2018, the MARTAC company for the first time introduced a new boat from the MANTAS series. The product under the designation T-12 was built using the accumulated experience and some new solutions. The boat was the largest in its line and differed from other samples in enhanced performance.


MANTAS T-12 is an autonomous surface platform capable of independent movement, maneuvering, patrolling, etc. The necessary equipment can be installed on it - surveillance and reconnaissance equipment of various kinds, anti-mine equipment, small unmanned complexes, etc. The possibility of arming the boat has not yet been reported.


Already during SNA-2018, the developers named the main ways for the development of the project. So, in the near future it was planned to introduce solar panels to improve the performance of the energy system and increase autonomy. In addition, further improvement of control systems and their software is possible, incl. to master new challenges.


First customers

According to known data, back in 2016-17. research organizations of the US Navy became interested in the developments of MARTAC. They ordered several crewless boats of different models for testing and testing new concepts. Experiments with MANTAS products began in 2017 and have provided important experience.


The next development of the MANTAS series predictably attracted the attention of the Pentagon. In 2018-19 he ordered such a technique to conduct new experiments. As part of the new research, it was planned to test the updated control systems, perform tasks with the help of specific loads, and also work out the group use of boats, incl. when interacting with "ordinary" ships.


In September 2021, the 5th Task Force (Task Force 59) was formed as part of the 59th Fleet at the US Navy base in Bahrain, equipped with several types of unmanned boats. She had to operate such equipment in real conditions, solve various problems and gain experience. In addition, it was planned to involve the 59th group in various exercises.


Already in October 2021, TF 59 took part in the New Horizon naval maneuvers for the first time. During the two-day event, the unmanned equipment of the group worked at sea ranges and performed various tasks, interacting with pennants of the US Navy and Bahrain. First of all, we checked the possibility of joint maneuvering. It was reported that all the participants in the exercises coped with their work and gained new experience.


The T-12 project was also of interest to the Royal Navy of Great Britain. At the beginning of 2020, MARTEC received an order from the CVMF for the supply of such vehicles. The contract, worth £1,8 million, included the supply of five vehicles and ancillary equipment, personnel training and technical support. Complexes were expected over the next few years. The delivery of finished products has not yet been reported.


In May 2022, it became known that the United States intended to transfer several T-12 boats to the Kyiv regime. The number of complexes and the timing of their shipment were not specified. It is curious that reliable information on the implementation of such plans is still missing. Perhaps last year it was about new-built boats, the production of which took time.


Platform with load

The MANTAS T-12 project provides for the construction of a light surface / semi-submersible autonomous boat of limited dimensions, capable of carrying one or another payload. In general, we are talking about a multi-purpose platform with high performance, which should ensure the operation of equipment that solves specific problems.


The T-12 is a catamaran with a pair of side hulls connected by a low profile bridge. Despite the limited volumes, this design accommodates all the necessary units and mechanisms. An interesting feature of the boat is a large flat deck without superstructures. By itself, without additional equipment, the boat rises slightly above the surface of the water and hardly betrays itself.


Boat length approx. 3,6 m with a width of 915 mm and a total construction height of 360 mm. The mass of the boat is only 95 kg, which simplifies its transportation by various means. Payload - up to 63,5 kg; there are also restrictions on power consumption, interfaces, etc.


In the basic configuration, MANTAS T-12 has an electric power plant. On board there are high-capacity batteries that are responsible for driving the propeller motor (one or two - to obtain different characteristics) and powering other systems. Cruising speed is declared at the level of 20 knots, cruising range without reloading is approx. 120 nautical miles. It was proposed to equip the boat with solar panels for self-charging while sailing. The option of introducing a hybrid power plant was also considered.


In the basic configuration, the T-12 carries a SeaFlir 230 optoelectronic station with several channels or another similar device. ECO provides visibility for driving and conducting surveillance / reconnaissance. The onboard control system receives and executes operator commands; some simple tasks are solved independently. The control system allows the integration of various loads and components. Communication with the operator is carried out via a 4G / LTE radio channel.


The boat is considered as a carrier of various instruments. For observing the underwater situation, searching for objects, etc. it can be equipped with Teledyne Reson T20-P or Teledyne BlueView M900 sonar systems. The regular ECO can be supplemented by UAVs of various types, ranging from the miniature Black Hornet Nano.


The MANTAS T-12 complex is intended only for surveillance and reconnaissance. The integration of firepower, apparently, is excluded - due to the limited size and displacement. However, impromptu solutions cannot be ruled out. Besides, weapon can get the next boat of the MANTAS series.


Progress and its results


The Pentagon has been developing the direction of unmanned and autonomous systems for the fleet, surface and underwater for a long time. The Australian-American company MARTAC also makes a certain contribution to the overall development processes. Its unmanned boats of two series are successfully tested and demonstrate the potential of new technologies and solutions.


Since 2018-19 the boat MANTAS T-12, developed taking into account the accumulated experience and promising ideas, passed the tests. He coped with the tests and now participates in more difficult events. Equipment of this type is adopted by various countries and even participates in exercises along with conventional ships. The T-12 project is getting high marks, and now we can expect that his experience will be used to create the next unmanned boats.

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