ONR to Assume Sea Hunter Medium-Displacement USV Program from DARPA by Summer
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
ARLINGTON, Va. — Transition of the Sea Hunter unmanned surface vehicle (USV) is expected to be completed to the Office of Naval Research (ONR) in three to four months as the USV becomes the test bed for the Navy’s Medium-Displacement Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MDUSV) project.
The MDUSV project will take over from the Anti-Submarine Continuous Trail Unmanned Vehicle (ACTUV) program developed by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), said Dr. Robert Brizzolara, ONR’s MDUUV project director.
The Sea Hunter, built by Leidos, is now based in San Diego, where it operates off Point Loma as its test program — which Brizzolara termed “very aggressive” — continues. Acceptance trials have been completed and current testing involves the Se Hunter’s autonomous compliance with Collision at Sea Regulations.
ONR expects to begin testing a mine-countermeasures payload on the Sea Hunter this summer. An advanced electro-optical/infrared (EO/IR) sensor will be fitted in the fall. In fiscal 2018, an intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance payload is scheduled, to be followed in 2019 by an anti-submarine payload. The original intent of DARPA’s ACTUV program was anti-submarine surveillance.
The Sea Hunter is equipped with three radars. Brizzolara said the Sea Hunter eventually will be fitted with a stereo camera — developed by ONR’s “Swamp Works” — that will allow it to determine distance visually to a contact or shoreline. Automatic target recognition also is being developed for the EO/IR systems.