September 7, 2021 – The Ministry of Defense has approved a test plan for the new unmanned complex “Harpsichord-2R-PM”. He is currently undergoing tests in the Far East. Their task is to test the drone’s operation at shallow depths in conditions of limited visibility and maneuver. The Harpsichord is launched from the Marshal Gelovani research vessel. The complex has already been tested in Crimea earlier. Based on the results of these works, it was decided to modify the drone. Experts suggest that the Harpsichord is an important element of the Poseidon strategic containment system. The device will be able to monitor the work of “Poseidon” under water, study the underwater environment, and in the future, and carry out maintenance elements.
Second generation testing
Sources in the military department told Izvestia that the test schedule for the Harpsichord-2R-PM underwater unmanned system has already been approved. According to the document, the novelty is being tested in the Far East. The test team was tasked with testing the drone’s operation at shallow depths in conditions of limited visibility and maneuver. The hydrographic vessel of the Pacific Fleet “Marshal Gelovani” acts as the carrier of the apparatus.
Earlier, the “Harpsichord” has already been tested in the Crimea. As a result, the design of the device was finalized, and special equipment appeared on board, including a sonar. Therefore, an updated complex of onboard equipment for an underwater drone is being tested in the Far East.
“Harpsichord-2R-PM” belongs to the second generation of the family of domestic autonomous unmanned underwater vehicles (AUV). It is larger than its predecessor – “Harpsichord-1”. If the latter looks like a torpedo in appearance and dimensions, the new development looks like a miniature submarine about 7 m long and about 1 m in diameter with a small superstructure on top.
The weight of the second version of the “Harpsichord” is about 4 tons. The device can submerge to a depth of 6 thousand meters. After separation from the carrier, it begins to work according to the program, but if necessary, the operator can give it new tasks. The estimated range is 50 km. “Harpsichord-2” can carry a large set of equipment: sonars, electromagnetic sensors, video cameras.
Couple to “Poseidon”
The apparatus “Harpsichord” can be part of the strategic containment system “Poseidon”, suggested the editor of the MilitaryRussia portal Dmitry Kornev. In 2018, when President Vladimir Putin presented the latest strategic military developments, in addition to an underwater unmanned aerial vehicle called Poseidon, there was also a Harpsichord in the presentation of the head of state. And in the publicly available photographs of the Poseidon’s regular carrier – the nuclear submarine Belgorod – you can see the hangar for this drone.
“On the Harpsichord, you can work out many technologies for controlling an unmanned underwater vehicle, which is launched both from a ship and from a submarine,” Dmitry Kornev told Izvestia. – It is believed that the special submarine “Belgorod” – the carrier of underwater vehicles – will carry the “Harpsichord”. And since the tests of the Poseidon complex are still ahead, the experience gained now will definitely be used. This also applies to control, and navigation, and docking to the carrier.
“Harpsichord” will be able to perform many tasks during the tests of “Poseidon”: to accompany the object, to video, record hydroacoustic parameters, monitor the situation, the expert added. In the future, it is possible that this product will be used for small maintenance of Poseidons under water.
Civilian analogs of such systems can be used for scientific research, former submarine commander Rear Admiral Vsevolod Khmyrov told Izvestia. And the main task of military developments is reconnaissance, opening the situation for the guidance or use of weapons at an object, he noted.
“The underwater robotic device itself is intended, in theory, to illuminate the situation,” the expert explained. – It can carry various systems for opening the surface and underwater environment in a certain area. If we assume that any underwater system can also carry a certain warhead, then we can talk about the presence of a small component of striking power against the background of a secretive environment.
Today, the complex of performing tasks to ensure security, including in ocean zones, is impossible without robotics, the rear admiral emphasized. Therefore, there is a parallel development and improvement of underwater inhabited and uninhabited systems – this is a necessary task for a balanced navy.
The Poseidon underwater unmanned complex presented by the President in 2018 can dive 1 km. The nuclear power plant is 100 times smaller in volume than the engines of the nuclear submarine, and at the same time surpasses them in power. The device can carry a serious set of weapons. It is assumed that “Poseidon” can provide a guaranteed retaliatory strike even in the event of a surprise attack on Russia with the use of weapons of mass destruction.
The nuclear submarine “Belgorod”, which is now at the testing stage, should become the first regular carrier of underwater unmanned vehicles. This ship was laid down in 1992 according to project 949A Antey. Due to the cessation of funding, later construction was frozen. The decision to complete the submarine was made after the start of work on the Poseidon. In 2012, the submarine was re-laid at the plant, and a large-scale restructuring of its hull began according to the new project 09852. Due to the addition of new compartments, the submarine became the longest in the entire fleet. In 2019, the ship was launched.
The second ship-carrier of unmanned aerial vehicles should be the nuclear submarine “Khabarovsk”, almost all information about which is closed.
Reprinted from Izvestia