back to article Germans develop submarine-launched UAV

You have to do something special these days to make your flying robot stand out from the swarm - but remorselessly efficient German designers have done just that. They plan to offer small unmanned air vehicles (UAVs) which can be launched and controlled from a submerged submarine. The UAV in question is called VOLANS (coVert …


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  1. Wonderkid

    Voyage To The Bottom Of The Sea?

    Those greying or thinning up top may remember Richard Wydmark et al in the 'sparks guaranteed to fly from the control panel every episode' futuristic submarine adventure where a cool looking yellow flying mini sub / aircraft would pop out of the mother sub to carry out various missions. Looks like we're on the way to scifi becoming scifact! (Without the rubber monsters and shaky cameras...)

  2. Nicholas Ettel

    @ Mr. Page

    Oh, Lewis... surely "Germans Develop Uboat-launched UAV" would have been more appropriate. :P

    Also, VOLANS = coVert OpticaL Airborne reconnaissance Naval adapted System?! Wow... just, wow. It seems that the Germans are as inanely creative (ie, asinine) with their military acronyms as we Americans are. I don't see anything wrong with simply abbreviating it as COARNAS. VOLANS... really?!!

    Still, though, in the latest development of the Drone Wars, this isn't a bad idea... especially considering the Arabian/Persian Gulf, the Yellow and East China Seas and the Sea of Japan being crucial areas where this could be used.

    Tux, because we need a Tux-shaped UAV... no one would suspect the lovable, huggable penguin being used for espionage. (Yes, I wholly expect flak for even suggesting such an atrocity. :P)

  3. Anonymous Coward

    I for one

    Welcome our sub-aquatic mighty underlords...

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward


    Richard Basehart, not Richard Widmark. Widmark was the captain of the Bedford in "The Bedford Incident" where a nuclear exchange in triggered by accident. Joyful viewing!

  5. Elmer Phud


    'so a sub skipper launching a VOLANS when up against first-division opposition would probably be signing his own death warrant.'

    Covert Optical airborNe recoNnaissance Naval adapTed System is what they are.

    Got me Souwester

  6. Webster Phreaky
    Jobs Horns

    Watch out England! Secret Code Name for these is V4.

    Time to get those coast watch squads with binoculars out again. I heard these things also make a buzzing sound too.

    Deutsche don' t werden, sie erhalten sogar wütend. Wir vergessen nie.

  7. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters

    Not the first German sub-launched drone

    The Germans experimented with gyrogliders towed by subs in WW2 to extend the sighting range of U-boats.

    This was about the same time as the Royal Navy were experimenting with kite bombs to bring down enemy planes. A ship towed a number of kites, if a plane hit the kite line (actually a steel cable), an explosive charge severed the cable. The drag of the kite would pull the cable up over the plane's wing until the 'payload' impacted with the wing - the payload being a bomb with a contact detonator.

  8. Wonderkid
    Paris Hilton

    @Daffy The Duck

    You are right! Well, with time, human mind scrambles things. Funny thing is, I have no idea where I got the name Richard Widmark from. Worrying! Just reading up on VTTBOTS now on IMDB and Wikipedia. Cannot believe it was made in the 60s! That really was the inspirational decade. What did people smoke back then to keep their minds so creative and fertile...? I wonder... ;-) Paris, because I had a blond moment...

  9. Mr. EMan

    Acronyms and Such

    @ Nicholas: "It seems that the Germans are as inanely creative (ie, asinine) with their military acronyms as we Americans are."

    Amazingly, there are other languages in the wild (how novel). How about: Verdeckte Optische Luft-Aufklärung Navalisiertes System

    Die Übersetzung ist für die Studenten Hausaufgabe.

  10. goggyturk

    I'm curious...

    If conventional subs aren't that big a threat (as implied in the article) then how could a Chinese diesel powered sub get within firing range of a US carrier during an exercise in 2006?

    Incompetence, or maybe a deliberate move to deceive the Chinese as to their capabilities?

  11. Marco


    Mr. Ettel et al., "volans" is the Latin participle of "volare" and means "flying".

    Mr. Phreaky, as an Englishman who is "not forgetting", as that is what I made your attempt at German out to be, you should also rest assured that the Indians and the inhabitants of other former British colonies haven't forgotten either.

  12. Graham Marsden

    I'm surprised...

    ... No one has yet mentioned Sky-Diver from Gerry Anderson's series UFO ;-)

    ... Mines the one next to the lady in the Purple Wig!

  13. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    No creativity with the acronyms

    Sounds like a load of Vertical-launch Optical Navalised Aerial Drones to me.

    That's VONADs to you! <titter>

  14. Anonymous Coward


    No, not just seen one but the seminal 70's Gerry Anderson series with real actors (UFO) also featured a submarine with a well armed front section that was detachable underwater, launched, flew - destroyed the nasty alien in his UFO and returned for the submarine for a nice cup of tea.

  15. Ishkandar


    1) Those wily Orientals are seriously sneaky bastards, I tell you !!

    2) If anyone tells you that they remembered what they smoked in the '60s, they're lying through the wrong end of their alimentary canal !! Been there. Seen it. Smoked it (I think) !!

  16. Gary

    Mix up

    Not the first German sub-launched drone

    The Focke Achgelis was a towed 3 rotor heicopter glider and was manned, although it had a parachute strapped on to it so that,when the copter had to be ditched to aviod any attacking escort vessels,the lucky pilot could parachute into the oggin to await later rescue by the parent U-Boat (Yeah,right!) The towed device, if my sources (German based) are correct, was a towed boat look alike with, as you say,a charge attached to surprise and delight the attacker. I suppose it depends on one's definition of a drone, and whether or not it is limited to a flying vehicle, or to any vehicle in whatever medium it moves.



  17. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    pah! - sounds like a furry animal.

    what happened to the good ol' days when german weaponry had tough sounding names like 'panzer', 'messerschmitt', 'stuka' or 'vergeltungswaffe'

  18. StopthePropaganda

    @ goggyturk

    the Chinese sub sat silent and powered down, waiting for the carrier group to arrive, since to be "Good Neighbors" we are required to announce war games and the areas they'll be played in. All they had to do was get there early, shut off the diesels, sit on the ocean floor and wait to blow the tanks at the last second.

    And since the Chinese funded enviro loonies are working to ban active sonar as much as possible, even in deep water, anywhere in the Pacific, there's no way to detect a powered down boat.

    Even with active sonar, it'd be tough to find the profile among the debris at the bottom.

    With all these handicaps our Navy puts up with in the name of "World Peace" it's surprising they're allowed out into the ocean at all.

    Might offend some historically imperialistic nations and make them afraid to do what they've always done until WWII showed them who was boss.

  19. Dave Bell

    It seems a bit iffy

    But I reckon this is enough to justify a patent.

    A long time ago they there were proposals for a similar trick to launch short-range SAMs at ASW helicopters--yeah, tell the whoile world you're really there.

    Can this give enough useful info to be worth the risk?

    How about a capsule shot from a torpedo tube, which floats to the surface and can wait a while before launching the UAV? You still need the communications, but no need for fancy engineering sub.

    Sorry, did somebody's patent just die?

  20. Anonymous Coward


    Bit pointless then this active sonar ? Doesn't sound much cop at all. Oh well, you pays your money you takes your choice, and that would be buy more choppers, subs are still basically shit.

    Where do I get my Chinese dollars ?

    <--- Because we're sailing across the the sea, to be with my Uncle Sam.

    P.S. Anyone know how those subs we sold the Canadians are getting on. Now that was a strange deal. Oh well, those crazy Canadians, anything rather than buying Yank.

  21. Gianni Straniero

    Re: Acronyms and such

    Luftaufklärung sind zwei Worte? Man lernt etwas neu jeden tag.

  22. Ishkandar


    FYI, those Chinese diesel-powered boats are a direct rip-off of the good ol' U-boats and everyone knows how sneaky those bastards were !!

  23. jj


    Was that a Team American reference?


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