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The United States Military has been searching for companies to demonstrate critical technologies to be integrated with a new class of long-range, long-duration Underwater Unmanned Vehicles (UUV). Military researchers are asking three separate defense firms to develop technologies that will support the UUVs operations.
DARPA has awarded contracts to Northrop Grumman, Lockheed Martin, and Navatek for the Manta Ray UUV project. The project aims to advance the development of future UUVs capable of operating underwater for long durations. The hope is to develop technologies capable of long-duration navigation, underwater energy management and biofouling reduction, all while decreasing operating costs.
For work on the program, Northrop Grumman was awarded a $10.1 million contract, Lockheed Martin was awarded a $12.3 million contract, and Navatek won a $5.5 million contract, according to Militaryaerospace.com.
Operating UUVs for extended periods of time without any maintenance or logistical support is a difficult challenge to solve. DARPA explains that systems capable of long-term underwater operations could enhance the flexibility of manned ships by reducing workloads.
The program looks to develop technologies in the realm of energy management for UUV operations. These technologies are intended to improve energy harvesting at depths,allow for low power and high efficiency propulsion, classify hazards, detect threats and more.
Additional technologies will include mission management technologies for long-term UUV operations, efficient underwater navigations, and new ways to reduce biofouling and corrosion.
Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and Navatek are expected to finish work on the project by 2021.