Undersea warfare experts at two of the nation's largest defense contractors are designing prototype extra-large unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) with the potential to undertake long-endurance missions to deploy sensors or other UUVs.
Officials of the U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command in Washington have awarded contracts to the Lockheed Martin Rotary and Mission Systems segment in Riviera Beach, Fla., and the Boeing Defense, Space & Security segment in Huntington Beach, Calif., to design the Orca Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (XLUUV) system.
Extra-large UUVs typically are autonomous mini-submarines that measure about seven feet in diameter - sometimes larger. They are designed for launch from shore or from large military ships with well decks, or from large civil vessels with moon pools. The Navy is not releasing the value of the XLUUV contracts to Boeing and Lockheed Martin.
XLUUVs, among the largest unmanned submersibles ever conceived, will be for long-endurance surveillance missions or undersea cargo vessels to deliver other sensor payloads and other UUVs. These large unmanned undersea vehicles eventually could be used as motherships to deploy and recover smaller surveillance UUVs on reconnaissance, surveillance, or special warfare missions in the open ocean or along coastlines and inside harbors.