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USN to continue development of submarine-launched MEDUSA UUV

The US Navy (USN) is progressing the development of its new Mining Expendable Delivery Unmanned Submarine Asset (MEDUSA), with plans to demonstrate a prototype system in the coming months.

The USN has described MEDUSA as a medium-class unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) capable of offensive mining capabilities deployed from a submarine.

It may potentially carry other advanced payloads in the future to meet additional mission needs. MEDUSA features a torpedo tube launch capability, long-range, high-payload placement accuracy, and can handle heavy payloads.

According to the recently released US Department of Defense fiscal year (FY) 2022 budget request, a prototype demonstration of the UUV, originally planned to take place in FY 2020, is scheduled to be completed by September. The prototype will be equipped with dummy payloads and will be deployed via an in-water launch from a host submarine, which is expected to be one of the USN's Los-Angeles-class nuclear-powered attack submarines.

A successful at-sea demonstration will lead to the start of a new program of record (POR) in FY 2022 and the rapid development of an acquisition plan, with a view to awarding a production contracts in FY 2023.

The MEDUSA UUV prototype has been designed and developed by Huntington Ingalls Industries' subsidiary Hydroid, which is delivering the system under a USD3.8 million contract awarded by Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) in June 2018. Under the terms of the contract Hydroid will also support land-based government-led testing, at-sea endurance testing, and at-sea submarine testing, with work expected to be completed by September.

The 533 mm UUV features a combination of sections from Hydroid's REMUS UUV and 483 mm-diameter inert Mk 13 explosive. The REMUS vehicle control software will be interlaced with a government-developed mission controller through Hydroid's RECON software package.

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