Navy Refines Draft Requirements For Large Unmanned Underwater Vehicle

December 1, 2014 4:44 PM

Navy Refines Draft Requirements For Large Unmanned Underwater Vehicle

By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor, Seapower Magazine

ARLINGTON, Va. — Naval Sea Systems Command has released a refined draft of top-level requirements for a large-diameter unmanned underwater vehicle (LDUUV).

“The LDUUV program will design, fabricate, and field a new class of large displacement Unmanned Undersea Vehicles to provide increased endurance, long range, and payload hosting,” the Nov. 25 announcement said. “The LDUUV will be a modular, open architecture, reconfigurable UUV delivered in increments. The Increment 1 LDUUV will have mission capabilities to include Intelligence Preparation of the Operational Environment and below-water Intelligence Surveillance Reconnaissance to improve battlespace awareness.

“Future increments are expected to include mission payloads to provide above water ISR, Mine Countermeasures and payload deployment,” the announcement said. “LDUUV Increment 1 will be capable of launch and recovery by Littoral Combat Ship (Independence and Freedom classes) and submarine Virginia-class submarines [by] Virginia Payload Modules or Modernized-Dry Deck Shelter. System integration with both platforms is a critical interdependency.”

Since conducting a 2006 study, the Navy has been developing requirements for a submarine-deployable UUV that would have a payload capability much greater than the limitations posed by a submarine’s 21-inch-diameter torpedo tube. The service has conducted some experimentation with the Sea Stalker UUV, a development of the Sea Horse UUV built by the Pennsylvania State University Applied Research Laboratory.

The Sea Stalker could be launched from and retrieved by the dry-deck shelter of an Ohio-class guided-missile submarine. Powered by a lithium battery, the Sea Stalker has an endurance of seven to 10 days and can loiter offshore, collecting intelligence with two antenna masts, and transmit and receive information via an Iridium satellite.

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