Boeing’s New ‘Orca’ Extra-Large Underwater Drone

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Boeing has delivered its first “Orca” Extra Large Uncrewed Undersea Vehicle to the US Navy. The Orca is the first of a new class of autonomous submarines that can perform long-duration critical missions to achieve undersea maritime dominance in changing environments and contested waters.

According to Interesting Engineering, the Orca weighs over 80 tons and is around 26 meters long. It is designed to be extremely modular and provide various tasks for the Navy, which can include conducting minesweeping missions, electronic warfare, and undersea surveillance.

It also has an extendable mast and a 10.4-meter-long payload section that can accommodate loads of up to 8 tons. It is propelled using a hybrid diesel-electric system that enables it to remain submerged for extended periods- even months. It can also run silently while submerged.

The Orca is expected to feature synthetic aperture sonar (enabling it to map the ocean floor), as well as various weapons systems like torpedoes, cruise missiles, and aerial drones.

Whatever the Orca is used for, it allows the Navy to operate silently over long periods across extensive regions, making it a valuable resource in many different contexts. It can target adversary shipyards and ports, including in high-risk operations like laying mines in narrower water paths, like rivers.

Boeing Maritime and Intelligence Systems vice president Ann Stevens said: “This is the culmination of more than a decade of pioneering work, developing a long-range, fully autonomous undersea vehicle with a large payload capacity that can operate completely independently of a host vehicle.”

“I’ve had the distinct pleasure of witnessing our team bring this first-of-its-kind capability to life, and I’m proud of their innovation, perseverance and unwavering commitment which has yielded the most advanced and capable UUV in the world. With the Navy’s partnership, we look forward to continuing to deliver this game-changing vehicle to the fleet,” she concluded.

This information was provided by Interesting Engineering.