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Cyprus Unveils New Unmanned Armed Surface Vessel

B5 Hydra USV
The B5 Hydra, a USV designed by the Cyprus based company Swarmly. Credit: Swarmly

A company based is Cyprus is set to unveil an unmanned surface vessel (USV) designed for military applications at the upcoming DEFEA 2023 defense exhibition held in Athens, Greece, in May.

The USV, which is designed by the Cypriot company Swarmly, has been dubbed B5 Hydra and is designed to perform high speed, long endurance maritime and coastal patrol operations.

Swarmly has already established a solid reputation with its aerospace products, which are in service with the militaries of eight countries, including Ukraine. The company’s manufacturing operations are based in Limassol.

Capabilities of the B5 Hydra USV

According to Naval News, who spoke with Swarmly, the USV’s hull measures 6 meters in length, 2.36 meters in width, and possesses a draft of 0.65 meters.

It has a weight of 1,200kg and stands at a height of 2.1 meters above the waterline. The USV has been specifically designed to fit inside a single 20′ shipping container or two containers in a 40′ and can be launched with the assistance of only two operators.

With a maximum speed of 85 knots and a total range of 650 nautical miles, the B5 Hydra is capable of extended autonomous operations and can remain at sea for an indefinite period of time. It can maintain an impressive cruising speed of 65 knots (120 km/h) for up to 10 hours.

The USV is built to withstand operational conditions up to Beaufort scale 8. The Beaufort scale is an empirical measure of windspeed on land or at sea, with ratings between 1 and 12. A scale of 8 means that the vessel can withstand the conditions at sea caused by gales.

Swarmly has chosen the LIONFISH 12.7 Ultralight remote weapon station (RWS) by the Italian defense company, Leonardo, to equip its USV, B5 Hydra. The vessel can be fitted with a gyro-stabilized turret that can be remotely controlled and is armed with a 12.7mm heavy machine gun (HMG), as well as up to 600 kg of explosive charges. In addition to this, other payloads are also under consideration, including the Leonardo Black Scorpion very light torpedo.

Possible applications

The capabilities and armaments of the Cypriot designed USV would make it suitable for a variety of maritime military applications.

The vessel’s ability to reach high speeds and operate at sea for long periods of time might make it a popular choice for coast guard units or any maritime forces with the need to patrol their country’s territorial waters or busy shipping lanes.

USVs like the B5 Hydra may also perform important reconnaissance and intelligence collection activities, as well as assistance in the protection of other naval vessels.

The fact the B5 Hydra is unarmed also offers certain advantages. USVs can be used for riskier operations that would otherwise not get the go-ahead because they would be unduly dangerous for personnel to attempt. The use of an unmanned vessel, however, does not endanger the lives of its operators, and USVs are therefore generally more expendable.

Broadly speaking, an uptake of unmanned vehicles by the world’s militaries on the land, sea, and in the air, is expected to increase as the relevant technology continues to improve.

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