When we hear the word drone we automatically think of UVF (unmanned flying vehicles). When the word drone is associated with a branch of the military we think about surveillance, spying and weapons. The Navy's Bluefin-21 is a different type of drone, an AUV (autonomous underwater vehicle), that will be used to search for the much publicized missing Malaysian Airline’s flight MH370.
“The Navy has hired Phoenix (under our contract with NAVSEA) to bring our AUV to Australia in support of the search,” Phoenix International spokesman Pete LeHardy said.
The 16.2 foot long, 21 inch diameter unmanned submersible has been deployed the Indian Ocean for the last 2 weeks waiting for the distinctive pings to get a location area to search. Last week when the batteries where about to die on flight MH370's transponder the pings where picked up to give them a search area. Then, on Friday the Bluefin-21 was launch and dove to a depth of 14,765 feet, just past its limit of 14,763 feet.
“This is the first time the Bluefin-21 has descended to this depth,” Navy spokesman Lt. JG Daniel Marciniak said in a statement as reported on Defensetech.org. “Diving to such depths does carry with it some residual risk to the equipment.”
Under the conditions and unseen variables of the search area, the Navy has estimate a search radius of 40 square miles per day. So, if they have to search the entire estimate area of 1.200 miles it could be a couple of weeks before they find the “black box”.