Royal Navy takes delivery of new robotic Madfox boat
The Royal Navy has officially received a new autonomous vessel. The Maritime Demonstrator For Operational eXperimentation (Madfox) will go through a year of testing by the Royal Navy’s Autonomy and Lethality Accelerator, NavyX, before entering regular service.
The announcement comes on the heels of a major review by the Ministry of Defence, which will be the greatest shakeup in a generation of all branches of the British military services. The new strategy will see a serious expansion of the fleet and an emphasis in all branches on rapid reaction forces, cyberwarfare, expanded nuclear forces, and increased use of robotic and autonomous systems.
Madfox is based on the Mast-13 autonomous boat, which is the latest in L3Harris' MAST series of Uncrewed Surface Vessels (USV), which has undergone sea trials by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) and the Navy for the past 18 months. This included being integrated with HMS Albion for Autonomous Advance Force 3.0, a joint operation with the Royal Norwegian Navy.
If it carries over the capabilities of the Mast-13, Madfox will be capable of both remote and autonomous operations, including the ability to navigate while following official traffic regulations. Using advanced sensors, the boat will be able to carry out reconnaissance missions, surveillance patrols, and in-harbor ship protection when it enters service, with deployment from the new Type 26 and Type 31 frigates currently under construction. In addition, there will be an inflatable version coming online.
"Later this year NavyX will also accept an autonomous Rigid Inflatable Boat (RIB) into the inventory," says Commander Antony Crabb, NavyX team leader. "This exciting work will help inform how systems are deployed, and employed, from future vessels of the Type 26 and Type 31 classes."
The video below shows Madfox undergoing trials in Portsmouth harbor.
Source: Royal Navy