DARPA has awarded contracts for Phase 2 of its Manta Ray program, which aims to demonstrate innovative technologies that will allow payload-capable autonomous unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) to carry out long-duration, long-range missions in ocean environments. Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation and Martin Defense Group are each developing unique full-scale demonstration vehicles.
The Manta Ray program seeks to develop UUVs that operate for extended durations without the need for on-site human logistics support or maintenance. In Phase 1 of the program, performers designed and conducted preliminary testing on novel approaches in energy management, UUV reliability, biofouling and corrosion control, navigation, and undersea obstacle avoidance, among other areas that directly enable long-endurance missions.
Phase 1 of the program concluded with Critical Design Reviews that demonstrated design maturity and readiness for advancement to Phase 2. The selected performers will now work on subsystem testing followed by fabrication and in-water demonstrations of full-scale integrated vehicles.
CDR Kyle Woerner, Manta Ray’s program manager, commented: “DARPA’s Manta Ray program has made significant breakthroughs toward enabling payload-capable autonomous underwater vehicles to operate independently of crewed vessels or support infrastructure. By investing in diverse solutions, DARPA strengthens our ability to transition innovative undersea technologies to our national security partners. Manta Ray is uniquely positioning itself to simultaneously introduce a new class of underwater vehicle while contributing key component technologies to other vital undersea programs.”
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