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In the underwater environment, there is a need for systems for prolonged missions. The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded Phase 2 contracts to continue the Manta Ray program that began in 2020. The Manta Ray program seeks to develop UUVs that operate for extended durations without the need for on-site human logistics support or maintenance. 

The effort seeks to demonstrate innovative technologies allowing payload-capable autonomous unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) to operate on long-duration, long-range missions in ocean environments. 

The two prime contractors, Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation and Martin Defense Group, are each developing unique full-scale demonstration vehicles.

In Phase 1 of the program, performers designed and conducted preliminary testing on novel approaches in energy management, UUV reliability, biofouling and corrosion control, navigation, and undersea obstacle avoidance, among other areas that directly enable long-endurance missions, according to darpa.mil.

“Manta Ray is uniquely positioning itself to simultaneously introduce a new class of underwater vehicle while contributing key component technologies to other vital undersea programs,” according to a program official.