This dual-powered submarine isn't like anything you have seen before

It can be used to silently transport troops and be deadly when needed.
Ameya Paleja
Kronos Submarine.

Highland Systems 

  • The submarine is dual-powered and can run for 54 hours
  • Its wings can be folded when being transported on land
  • It can carry a total of six mini-torpedoes.

A UAE-based startup unveiled a new submarine design that actually looks more like a futuristic spacecraft than an underwater vessel. With its Kronos submarine, the startup HIghland Systems has radically changed what submarines look like, from the outside as well as the inside.

Designed for covert operations, submarines have improved tremendously over the years. However, their basic design and shape remain more or less standard. With newer technologies such as electric engines and unmanned vehicles taking prominence, there is an opportunity to change submarines to be more fuel efficient and increase their stealth capabilities.

Last year, we reported how DARPA's Manta-Ray project has moved to its next phase, and now a UAE-based startup has unveiled another Manta-ray-inspired design. Although the latter is not an unmanned vehicle, the submarine's shape is striking.

The Manta ray-inspired submarine

The submarine is designed to accommodate ten passengers and one crew member. The radically new design of the hull can deliver higher speeds while consuming lesser fuel, the company claims. The submarine can be tasked with commercial operations or built specifically for rescue or combat operations.

The submarine is dual-powered with a diesel generator as well as an electric engine which, when combined, can deliver up to 54 hours of operation. Interestingly, the wings of the submarine can be folded to ease its transport over the land. If this seems confusing, you will be surprised to know that the submarine is just under 30 feet (9025 mm) long, 24 feet (7432 mm) wide, and 6.85 feet (2089 mm) tall, nothing like the largest submarines we have covered before.

It weighs only 22,000 pounds (10,000 kg) and has a carrying capacity of 6,600 pounds (3,000 kg) on water, the website states.

The submarine's performance

Powered by a diesel engine, the submarine can deliver a top speed of just under 50 miles (80 km) an hour while on water and 31 miles (50 km) an hour when under. The working depth of the submarine is 328 feet (100 m), while its maximum critical depth is 820 feet (250 m).

The 1,200 hp electric engine on the submarine can also be used to propel the submarine. In its battery-only mode, the submarine can remain operational for 36 hours, the same amount of time it can maintain air supply for. Following this, the battery needs to be charged for a period of 1.5 hours, which is also the amount of time needed for air refueling.

The interiors of the submarine are air-conditioned and use an adaptive lighting system. When required, the life support system can kick in an automated fashion. The images on the website do demonstrate that the interiors are spacious for the passengers.

For combat operations, the submarine can also be equipped with a total of six mini-torpedoes, three on either side of the crew member. These torpedos could take out adversarial ships or port bases if required.

From a prototype perspective, The Kronos ticks all the boxes to get us excited. We now need to see it in action to know if it delivers on its promise.

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