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BAE Systems unveils ‘Herne’ Extra-Large underwater drone

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BAE Systems has announced that it is developing a highly-configurable extra-large autonomous underwater vehicle (XLAUV) for the future underwater battlespace.

Dubbed the “Herne,” the underwater drone is designed for a wide range of missions, including maritime surveillance, reconnaissance, and mine-hunting.

The British firm displayed a concept demonstrator of the futuristic XLAUV during the recently-concluded Euronaval exhibition in Paris.

According to BAE official Andrew Carr, the Herne leverages the company’s experience in payload integration, mission planning, and electronic architecture.

He added that the XLAUV will feature long endurance and an ability to operate “at depths out to the edge of the continental shelf.”

“We’ve looked at the underwater battlespace and the opportunities and emerging threats … and saw a gap around this size of platform, so this is a concept demonstrator to showcase the abilities and innovation that BAE Systems has,” Carr told Naval News.


The Herne XLAUV will reportedly have a design suited for covert operations, offering a smaller, more concealed presence than a submarine.

It will be able to carry lightweight towed array sonar, masts, and other unmanned vehicles designed for mine countermeasures.

More importantly, the underwater drone will be highly-adaptable to meet customer requirements.

“It’s really about adaptability. It’s not a fixed design. It’s a capability we can offer customers, building on our experience to tailor to their needs,” Carr said.

BAE Systems chief underwater technologist Murray Thomson estimates that an actual demonstrator of the Herne XLAUV could be ready in two to four years.

He further speculated that production could begin in four to six years.

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