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The development of unmanned surface and subsurface vehicles has been gaining momentum in the US Navy, with the service’s new plans for a “purpose-built” testing facility at its warfare center in Port Hueneme, California.
“These facilities will be the focal point of Navy learning and experimentation on the capabilities, operations, and sustainment of unmanned maritime vehicle prototypes to inform future programs,” according to the program’s statement.
The facilities will accommodate testing, evaluation, and technology demonstration for systems including the Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (XLUUV), as well as prototypes for the Medium and Large Unmanned Surface Vehicles.
The Rapid Autonomy Integration Lab, a software factory, will be responsible for ensuring the various technologies and capabilities intertwined in the unmanned fleet will operate together seamlessly.
The service acknowledged the completion of modifications to an existing building that will now house XLUUV prototypes as well as the personnel who will test them once fabrication is completed by prime contractor Boeing.
The Navy throughout the past several years has worked with the Pentagon’s research and development agencies to seek out and develop several unique unmanned vehicles, such as the Office of Naval Research’s Sea Hunter and the Strategic Capabilities Office’s Overlord, but many of these systems still technically remain housed by those same research agencies, according to breakingdefense.com.
The new facility in California will be one central location for all these vehicles. The site is ideally suited for these facilities with ready access to open-water instrumented ranges, multimodal expeditionary transportation capabilities, proximity to Navy and industry hubs, and synergies with other tenant commands.