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Pacific 24 USV to support NavyX programme

BAE Systems has been contracted to deliver an autonomous version of its Pacific 24 sea boat to support the UK Royal Navy’s (RN’s) NavyX autonomy and lethality accelerator.

The 12-month, GBP3.2 million (USD3.94 million) contract covers the provision of a Pacific 24 fleet conversion unmanned surface vehicle (USV), integration into the combat management system of a Type 23 frigate, and the execution of a Fleet Minor Trial.

The manned version of the 7.8 m Pacific 24 Mk 4 rigid inflatable boat (RIB) is already deployed fleetwide with the RN as a standard sea boat. BAE Systems’ Portsmouth-based Maritime Services business has since 2017 invested in a programme of development and demonstration using an existing 9.5 m P950 RIB as a testbed to prove technologies and techniques applicable to an autonomous Pacific 24.

The Pacific 24 USV conversion was shown at the DSEI 2019 exhibition in London. (Richard Scott/NAVYPIX)

The Pacific 24 USV conversion was shown at the DSEI 2019 exhibition in London. (Richard Scott/NAVYPIX)

Trials undertaken to date have demonstrated the ability of the unmanned P950 to undertake complex, multiphase missions and support advanced dynamic tasking. The research and development (R&D) effort has been undertaken in conjunction with L3Harris subsidiary ASV (providing COLREGS-compliant autonomous navigation software) and MSI-Defence Systems (providing its Seahawk MWS remote weapon station configured with a M2HB 0.50 cal heavy machine gun).

The Pacific 24 USV conversion, which was debuted in the waterborne demonstration at the DSEI 2019 exhibition in London last September, uses the same core command and control suite to enable autonomous operation. The Fleet Minor Trial planned as part of the NavyX initiative is intended to demonstrate the integration and operation of an autonomous variant of the Pacific 24 sea boat from an in-service warship.

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