Fairbanks Morse Defense (FMD), which has a long history of developing and manufacturing medium-speed diesel engines for Navy vessels, this week introduced its first high-speed engine to compete to power the Navy’s emerging demand for smaller, all-electric ships, including unmanned vessels.

As the Navy moves toward smaller ships, FMD has to go where the customer is going and “adjust our business model” and have smaller engines to power these vessels and remain “relevant,” George Whittier, FMD’s CEO, told Defense Daily

on Tuesday. “And so that’ what we’ve done.”

The nForcer FM 175D will be have the same footprint as its chief competitor but more power and better fuel economy, Whittier said. Rolls-Royce’s MTU high-speed engines are the main competitor and they build a good, reliable engine but FMD’s entry into the market is based on newer technology, he said.

The nForcer FM 175D will undergo testing with the Navy this summer and the company said it will be ready to integrate into ships and vessels within two years.

FMD announced the new engine on Monday, a day ahead of the start of the Surface Navy Association’s annual National Symposium.

“The Navy’s future fleet will be electric, and the power requirements for each vessel to support advanced weapons and detection systems alongside standard operations will be greater than anything else we’ve seen over the past 20 to 30 years,” Whittier said in a statement. “Fairbanks Morse Defense has provided the Navy with some of the most trusted power and propulsion systems on the planet for nearly 100 years, making us uniquely qualified to support the Navy’s future efforts to protect the freedom of the seas with this high-speed engine.”

The types of ships that the nForcer engine will target include the envisioned light amphibious warship, the large unmanned surface vessel (LUSV) and lightly or minimally-manned vessels.

For the LUSV, the nForcer is designed “exactly for that application,” Whittier said in the virtual interview on Tuesday. FMD is conducting internal testing of the engine now to prove it out for the Navy’s needs, he said.

The upcoming engine testing for the Navy is aimed at qualifying the nForcer for the LUSV program, Mike Clark, FMD’s chief operating officer and president of Fairbanks Morse Engine, told Defense Daily during the same interview. The test will be 30 days of “no-touch” operations, which is the minimum requirement, with the preferred goal being 60 days, which is what the engine is being designed to handle, he said.

The LUSVs will run on high-speed engines and whether the Navy buys 20, 30 or 50 of the vessels, “if we want to be able to play in that market, we have to have something to play with,” Whittier said of FMD’s decision to develop the nForcer.

Over the next 10 years, FMD estimates the Navy market for high-speed engines will be in the “low hundreds,” Whittier said. Putting that into perspective, he said a “good market” for FMD now is to sell 20 medium-speed engines per year, with the primary end customers being the Navy and Coast Guard.

FMD said the new engine will have options for 12, 16 or 20 cylinders and include a 175-millimeter bore for mechanical or electric propulsion for onboard power generation. The nForcer will operate at 1,800 to 2,000 revolutions per minute and a power output rating of 1,740 to 4,400 kilowatts.