Unmanned vehicles specialist General Atomics in San Diego is joining a list of unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) experts that are developing an advanced propulsion system to power U.S. Navy UUVs on covert missions lasting for more than two months.
The Office of Naval Research (ONR) in Arlington, Va., has awarded General Atomics a potential $20 million contract to develop energy section technology for the Navy’s Large Displacement Unmanned Underwater Vehicle Innovative Naval Prototype (LDUUV INP) program.
The LDUUV INP program seeks to develop a large unmanned submarine able to operate in the open ocean and in coastal waters and harbors on missions lasting more than 70 days to gather intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) information. The LDUUV INP program is in place to develop UUV autonomy and long-endurance propulsion systems for large UUVs.
General Atomics joins Lynntech Inc. in College Station, Texas, and NexTech Materials Ltd. in Lewis Center, Ohio, in an ONR project to develop advanced propulsion for future large UUVs.
The ONR contract to General Atomics, announced on 20 July, is for a minimum of $25,000 and a maximum of $20 million. The Lynntech contract, announced in May, and the contract to NexTech, announced in June, each are for $18 million.
General Atomics — best known for the company’s work on unmanned aerial vehicles (UUVs), will help develop technology leading to an energy-dense air-independent rechargeable or refuelable energy system for a future large unmanned submarine. The LDUUV propulsion system will provide 817 to 1,800 kilowatts of power, measure 120 inches long, and provide power for 46 to 70 days.
In late April ONR officials announced plans to award a $5.9 million three-year contract to Hydroid Inc. in Pocasset, Mass., to develop an autonomy testing system for the LDUUV INP) program.