UTC Aerospace Systems Begins Production of First Large Vertical Array for Virginia-Class Subs
By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — UTC Aerospace Systems, a unit of United Technologies Corp., has begun manufacturing the first Large Vertical Array (LVA) for Virginia-cClass submarines at its Aerostructures Engineered Polymer Products (EPP) division in Jacksonville, Fla., the company announced in an April 3 release. The start of production follows several years of collaboration between EPP, the U.S. Navy and prime contractor General Dynamics Electric Boat on a design and development program.
EPP’s LVA is a hull-mounted acoustic array which, along with other onboard systems and sonar-processing capabilities, allows a submarine to “see” other submarines and surface ships in its vicinity. The LVA develops a detailed tactical picture that allows the submarine to perform its full array of missions.
For more than 50 years, EPP has developed expertise and gained experience supporting the U.S. Navy’s undersea warfare mission. Initially, the legacy rubber expertise of the B.F. Goodrich Company was utilized in surface warship sonar domes. Then in the 1990s, EPP began designing and manufacturing a wide variety of polyurethane products for the commercial, space and defense industries.
This newly developed expertise in polyurethane design and manufacturing allowed EPP to begin supporting U.S. Navy efforts in 2000 by conducting early studies of hull array materials and technologies. In 2008, EPP began working alongside the Navy to build two prototype LVAs designed for two different classes of submarines. Lessons learned from the prototypes were then leveraged in the design and manufacture of the Virginia-class LVA.