skip to main content

DARPA awards Phase 2 contracts for Manta Ray UUV demonstrators

The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has awarded Martin Defense Group (formerly Navatek) and Northrop Grumman contracts to build full-scale unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) demonstrators under the next stage of the agency's Manta Ray programme, DARPA officials confirmed on 20 December.

Manta Ray seeks to develop long-endurance, payload-capable UUVs that can operate for extended periods without the need for on-site human logistics support or maintenance. Under Phase 1 of the programme, Martin Defense Group and Northrop Grumman have completed vehicle design activities and conducted preliminary testing on novel approaches in energy management, UUV reliability, biofouling and corrosion control, navigation, and undersea obstacle avoidance.

DARPA's Tactical Technology Office in February 2020 awarded Manta Ray Phase 1 contracts to Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Laboratories (USD17 million), Northrop Grumman (USD10.1 million), and Navatek (USD5.5 million) to develop an integrated solution for Manta Ray technology and operational areas. A fourth company, Metron, was tasked to explore technologies and solutions for undersea energy harvesting techniques at depths necessary for successful operations.

The three Phase 1 contracts ran for an 11-month base period, culminating in a Preliminary Design Review (PDR) completed in early 2021. Northrop Grumman and Martin Defense Group were downselected and subsequently awarded additional funds for a seven-month post-PDR option to continue to mature their designs up to a Critical Design Review (CDR) milestone. Metron was separately tasked to continue work on novel energy harvesting technology.

The Phase 1 CDRs “demonstrated design maturity and readiness for advancement to Phase 2”, according to DARPA. “The selected performers will now work on subsystem testing followed by fabrication and in-water demonstrations of full-scale integrated vehicles.”

Martin Defense Group's Phase 2 contract is worth USD56.8 million, while Northrop Grumman's award is valued at USD41.2 million.

Looking to read the full article?

Gain unlimited access to Janes news and more...