Annapolis, Md. — Last week Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) got the Pentagon’s approval to develop a new common mine countermeasures (MCM) unmanned surface vehicle (USV).
The Navy is looking to make a common modular vehicle that can accommodate at least three counter-mine payloads: mine hunting; sweeping; and neutralization, a Navy official said here Tuesday at the NDIA Expeditionary Warfare conference.
These MCM vehicles would be used with the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), which will feature a MCM module to perform counter-mine missions in the future.
Capt. Pete Small, program manager Mine Warfare Systems (PMS 406) in the Program Executive Office Unmanned and Small Combatants (USC), said the Navy is now moving to develop “the contracting and programmatic stuff to acquire the payload and the middleware, which will adapt the payload to the craft to support the numbers that we need for the different mission sets and load outs for the Littoral Combat Ships.”
Small said the Navy is looking to start the acquisition program as soon as fiscal year 2020.
He added once NAVSEA gets the payload defined they could later adapt additional payloads “as necessary for that MCM mission.”
According to a slide Small presented at the conference, the MCM USV could potentially carry future payloads for counter-piracy, surveillance, communications relays, and anti-submarine warfare.
The craft will field Raytheon’s [RTN] AN/AQS-20C towed sonar. According to Small’s presentation, the Navy expects 10 sonars to be delivered by the first quarter of FY ’19.
Small added that in the future the Navy’s vision of future USVs is getting to the point where all of them will be modular vessels with defined interfaces to allow multiple payloads and different mission sets.
Relatedly, he noted the two competitors for the Orca Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (XLUUV), Lockheed Martin [LMT] and a Boeing [BA]/Huntington Ingalls Industries [HII] team, will enter critical design reviews for their offerings this month.
Small said the Navy is now in a position to award to both contractors, if they are technically feasible. He said the Navy is planning to award up to five total XLUUVs from FY ’20-’22.