The US Navy’s (USN’s) unmanned undersea vehicle (UUV) programmes are facing a banner year as more systems begin to be deployed and trialled, and the service plots out the future path for large undersea platforms.
Working with the USN’s Office of Naval Research (ONR), the service has transitioned two innovative naval prototypes (INP) to Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC), Newport Rhode Island. Both systems are the first large UUVs that NUWC will receive, however they are designed as science and technology vehicles and will not be deployed, Captain Jon Rucker, programme manager undersea systems (PMS 406), said during the annual Surface Navy Association conference on 11 January, in Arlington, Virginia.
INPs 1 and 2 are training vehicles to enable operators to begin understanding how to operate the larger UUVs. That way, when the navy delivers real-world systems, the operators will already know what it takes to run the vehicles, Capt Rucker said.
INP 1, which was delivered to NUWC in October 2017, is a model designed to be used to understand how to lift, handle, and put the vehicles in the water. INP 2, which arrived at NUWC in December, is fully operational.
INP 3 is an extra-large UUV (XLUUV) and ONR is building INP 4, Capt Rucker added.
The navy’s plan for 2018 is to fund multiple training operations throughout the year. In 2019 the navy will open up the programme to industry to bring in its sensors and payloads for testing on the large UUVs. Those events will be used to inform the programmes of record about the technologies and what the operators need to insert the capabilities into deployable systems, Capt Rucker said.
Last year, the navy transitioned from preliminary design into detail design for its Snakehead Large Diameter UUV (LDUUV).
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