The Navy, along with a team of industry partners, is demonstrating autonomous technologies in a contested environment during the annual Advanced Naval Technology Exercise (ANTX) this week.

The Naval Surface Warfare Center, Northrop Grumman [NOC], Battelle, Huntington Ingalls Industries [HII], and Riptide Autonomous Solutions are cooperating in the multi-domain contested marine environment scenario to test multi-platform autonomy, communications, and real-time mission awareness for battlespace preparation. The exercise is occurring in Panama City, Fla., from Aug. 14 to 18.

Chloe Mallet (right), an ocean engineer at HII’s Undersea Solutions Group (USG) subsidiary, prepares to crew and drive the Proteus underwater vehicle with USG Vice President Ross Lindman (left). Photo by Joe Colamaria/HII.
Chloe Mallet (right), an ocean engineer at HII’s Undersea Solutions Group (USG) subsidiary, prepares to crew and drive the Proteus underwater vehicle with USG Vice President Ross Lindman (left). Photo by Joe Colamaria/HII.

The ANTX was created to demonstrate future Navy technologies in a collaborative environment where personnel from the government, industry, and academia sectors can showcase new capabilities.

The test will include multiple unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs), unmanned surface vehicles, and a surrogate unmanned aerial vehicle that are planned to all collaboratively conduct seabed warfare in a mock contest environment. This will include communicating real-time mission performance to remote operations headquarters.

In the exercise, autonomous systems will also collect, analyze, and synthesize data from various sensors to develop real-time targeting solutions that allow the undersea vehicles to engage an adversary’s seabed infrastructure.

Northrop Grumman said it will showcase its advanced mission management and control system that is aligned with the Navy Common Control System vision. The company highlighted this shows the benefits of an open architecture approach while demonstrating the ability to “rapidly integrate multiple capabilities into a relevant mission scenario.”

“Executing undersea strike with existing technology using multi-domain autonomous platforms equipped with networked sensors and advanced mission management for command and control provides significant offensive and defensive capability in the maritime environment,” Jeff Hoyle, director of undersea warfare at Northrop Grumman’s aerospace systems business sector, said in a statement.

Battelle highlighted the underwater segment will feature the Proteus underwater vehicle jointly developed by Battelle and HII’s technical solutions division. The Proteus is 25 feet long, 64 inches in diameter, and weighs 8,000 pounds. Battelle noted the vessel can be operated either manned or unmanned.

Its purpose in the exercise is to enter the battlespace and deliver/launch multiple smaller that have their own roles in the larger mission objective. Battelle explained in a statement that the smaller Riptide micro-UUVs and a REMUS UUV “will execute unique mission plans according to their onboard sensors and payloads to investigate and prepare the contested environment.”

The Riptide micro-UUVs are 25 to 72 inches long, less than five inches in diameter, weight 12 to 36 pounds, can operate at one to eight knots, and can reach a depth of 650 feet. The Remus UUV is built by Germany’s Kongsberg.

The companies announced a partnership in June to design and produce UUVs, which combined teams  in support of the Navy’s emerging Extra Large UUV (XLUUV) program (Defense Daily, June 8).

The Proteus was first developed, built, and demonstrated by HII’s Underseas Solutions Group (USG). In 2015 HII acquired USG, then called the Engineering Solutions Division, from professional services firm The Columbia Group (Defense Daily, Feb. 3, 2015).

Fred Byus, vice president and general manager of Battelle’s mission and defense technologies business, called the exercise “a great opportunity to join our industry and government partners to test the type of technologies that will be needed to face emerging threats. It’s a priority for the Navy and a priority for us.”