The Navy said Monday it plans to buy up to 30 new Hammerhead mines in 2021 after hosting a virtual industry day due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Navy’s Program Executive Office Unmanned and Small Combatants (PEO USC) hosted the virtual industry day earlier this month in place of a scheduled in-person meeting to discuss with possible competitors to the requirements for the Hammerhead’s design, development, and production.

The industry day was originally scheduled for March 23 but was changed due to the pandemic.

Hammerhead is designed to deploy from unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) and detect, classify, and destroy anti-submarine warfare (ASW) assets.

According to a March presolicitation post, Hammerhead features an encapsulated Mk 54 torpedo effector, which will be released to acquire and engage ASW targets. The Navy’s conceptual physical configuration of the system includes a capsule module with the effector, a mooring module, an energy module, and a communications module.

The post said the UUVs deploying Hammerhead will provide overt or clandestine standoff delivery of multiple mines.

The presolicitation also announced the draft industry day schedule and included a notional milestone schedule of a final request for proposals released in May, proposals due by June, and a contract awarded by September.

The Navy now says it intends to post the final Hammerhead prototype solicitation sometime later this year, whereupon industry will have about four weeks to submit full proposals for prototypes. The service expects to award a design and test contract for up to 30 prototypes in fiscal year 2021, while “operationally relevant prototypes” are planned to be delivered by the end of fiscal year 2023.

PEO USC Rear Adm. Casey Moton said Hammerhead was designated both a Middle Tier Acquisition Rapid Prototyping Program and a Navy Maritime Accelerated Acquisition, which reflects its urgent need.

Last October, Senior Leader for Mine Warfare at PEO USC Sam Taylor noted the Hammerhead was a maritime accelerated acquisition program and the “newest addition to the mine family” after starting in 2018. Hammerhead features a modular architecture that aims to allow for future technology insertions (Defense Daily, Oct. 24, 2019).

Sixteen companies participated in the industry day, which the Navy planned to improve industry’s understanding of the Hammerhead program and accelerate the design, development and production of the product.

The industry day should “stress the importance of the program to the fleet – they want it today, they need it today. … We’re still going to deliver the mission-essential capability, so it’s important that we proceed,” Moton said in a statement.

“We’re looking for industry feedback. That’s how we’re going to be successful in meeting the program’s aggressive schedule to deliver this new capability to the fleet,” Capt. Danielle George, program manager, Mine Warfare Programs (PMS 495), added.