US Navy Spends Another $12.7M for ASW Module USVs
The U.S. Navy Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center in San Diego, CA awarded General Dynamics Robotic Systems a $12.7 million contract for 4 Unmanned Surface Vehicles (USVs) for the Littoral Combat Ship’s Anti-Submarine Warfare Mission Module.
As the prime contractor in this team effort, General Dynamics will provide the Navy with an 11-meter USV that can perform long endurance missions due to its efficiency. The USVs will employ towed arrays, dipping sonar sensors and acoustic sources as payloads to carry out their Anti-Submarine Warfare mission. General Dynamics’ teammates on this project include:
- Alion Science and Technology in Boulder, CO
- Chesapeake Sciences Corporation in Millersville, MD
- International Logistics Systems in Glen Rock, PA
- Navatek, Ltd. in Honolulu, HI
- Signal Systems Corporation in Severna Park, MD
See GDRS October 19, 2006 press release. General Dynamics Robotic Systems is a part of General Dynamics Land Systems in Sterling Heights, MI, and the company plans to adapt its land robotics command and control system for the new USVs; in an earlier release, Scott Myers President Scott Myers cited this expertise as a key reason the Navy chose them.
The contract follows a similar award for up to 4 USVs in on May 1, 2005. That $8.5 million contract covered the first 2 vehicles, with options for raising that contract to 4 vehicles and $11.3 million.
It should be noted, however, that General Dynamics is not alone in this field; several companies already have already fielded operational USVs. DID has covered the 11 meter Spartan Scout USV system trialed by the US Navy and bought by Singapore. The Spartan Scout was created by the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, RI, in conjunction with Radix Marine, Northrop-Grumman, and Raytheon. Its primary role is force protection and surveillance, but back in 2005 Nav Log noted that: “Near future Scout tests are to include demonstrations of Mine Warfare (MIW) capabilities and Anti-submarine Warfare (ASW) capabilities.” It also listed the Spartan Scouts as being targeted for deployment on the USA’s Littoral Combat Ships.
Elbit’s sea-doo like Stingray is too small for this kind of role, but BAE Systems and Lockheed Martin are formally teamed with RAFAEL to take the 30 foot long Protector Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) to the next level.
The Protector has integrated weapons via a mini-Typhoon mount, and swappabble modules. Much like the Spartan Scout, the Protector has been touted mostly in a force protection/ advance patrol role to date. The Protector or USV is operational in Israel as the “Death Shark,” has been used by Singapore, and was recently demonstrated to the U.S. Navy, Coast Guard and other maritime security agencies in the USA. It is said to lack some of the autonomous operation features of the Spartan Scout, but upgrades may have been installed since those older reports and its current status in that regard is unknown to DID.
This BAE release notes that BAE Systems and Rafael are teamed for product production and all other program developments with Lockheed Martin, who is leading the Protector pursuit team for the Littoral Combat Ship and the Coast Guard’s Deepwater programs, as well as for Combat System integration efforts.
fn1. The Protector USV was originally developed by RAFAEL in conjunction with Aeronautics Defense Systems Ltd.