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Naval Group to develop UCUV prototype for French Navy

Naval Group's XLUUV demonstrator, which completed sea trials in late 2023, will be a key component of the UCUV project. (Naval Group)

Naval Group has been awarded a contract by French defence procurement agency Directorate General of Armament (DGA) for the development of an unmanned combat underwater vehicle (UCUV) demonstrator.

Under a framework agreement announced by both parties on 29 January 2024 but formalised on 28 December 2023, Naval Group will design, produce, and test a 10 m-long UCUV prototype.

The agreement follows a nine-month study contract awarded to Naval Group in May 2023, under which the shipbuilder examined principal use cases and developed system architectures for a UCUV.

The project leverages research and development (R&D) work already carried out by Naval Group that resulted in the development of an initial Extra-Large Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (XLUUV) demonstrator. The XLUUV, which completed sea trials during the third quarter of 2023, will be used as a trials and technology integration platform and will help inform the design of the future UCUV demonstrator.

The initial follow-on contract, which was awarded under the framework agreement on 28 December 2023 and will run for 24 months, will focus on developing an enhanced version of Naval Group's Autonomous Decision-Making Process (ADMP) โ€“ the โ€˜brains' of the platform โ€“ to strengthen mission planning and monitoring, as well as secure surface and underwater navigation.

Subsequent contracts will address challenges relating to long endurance, underwater detection, and sub-order implementation.

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