Posted: September 18, 2017 1:00 PM

Navy Advancing LDUUV, XLUUV Programs

By RICHARD R. BURGESS, Managing Editor

WASHINGTON — The Navy has completed the Preliminary Design Review (PDR) of its Large-Diameter Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (LDUUV) and expects soon to select bidders for its Orca Extra-Large UUV (XLUUV), a Navy acquisition official said.
The PDR of the Phase 1 of the Snakehead LDUUV was completed Sept. 12, said Capt. Jon Rucker, the Navy’s program manager for unmanned maritime systems.

Source selection for the builder of the Orca is expected to be made before the end of September, Rucker said.

The Navy is the lead integrator for the team that is designing the Snakehead, but the defense industry will be contracted for many components — such as sensors, batteries, hull material, etc. — of the Phase 1 vehicle. The service plans to build two Phase 1 Snakeheads for testing and eventual deployment.

Phase 2 of the Snakehead also will be government-led, Rucker said. The Phase 2 LDUUV will be longer than the Phase 1 vehicle to “add more payload and capability” and if successful could transition to mass production.

“Our goal is to get some of these vehicles out there as quick as we can, while having the right technical rigor, let the operators use them, learn from it, so that, when we start building them in mass quantities, we are more informed on what we’re building,” he said.

Rucker said the name “Snakehead” was chosen for the LDUUV by three people, including himself. He described the Snakehead as a “persistent, tough” invasive species of fish that has populated the Potomac River. “The admirals latched onto it [the name].”

The Orca XLUUV “will be an industry effort,” Rucker said. “We’re in source selection right now and plan to award contracts for design efforts by the end of September, and that will be to go off and design vehicles to requirements and then we’ll be able to down-select. The goal is to have two design contracts with down-select in the first quarter of [fiscal ’19] to one of those vendors to produce up to five vehicles.”

Under the fiscal 2018 budget plan, the first Snakehead vehicles “will be ready for in-water testing in the first quarter of [fiscal] ’20 and the first Orca vehicle to be delivered from industry to the government to start its testing by the end of [fiscal] ’20,” he said.

“Whatever we learn from both, we can leverage,” he said. “That’s the whole goal of the family of efforts.”

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