Ahoy! 'Star Wars' ships buoy up navy
THE Naval Service will boast 'Star Wars' technology on two new patrol vessels, which will be able to operate unmanned drone aircraft.
The €98m order for two ships was placed with British yard Babcock Marine in Dorset, and the first vessel, as yet unnamed, will be delivered in January.
The ability to operate unmanned aerial vehicles was built into the design of the ships, which will have a top speed of 23 knots.
The vessels will be the first Irish ones capable of operating drones as well as robot submersibles.
Flying drones from ships is becoming crucial to navies worldwide and would give the Naval Service an unprecedented surveillance capability against illegal fishing and drug runners.
Typical of the systems being used is the Boeing ScanEagle, a small drone with a 10ft wingspan, which can stay airborne for more than 24 hours, offering real-time video and surveillance pictures in all weathers.