Boeing to build four long-endurance extra-large unmanned submarines
The US Navy has awarded a contract to Boeing for four giant robotic submarines in an attempt to bolster the naval fleet by deploying a large number of crewless unmanned boats.
The $43-million Orca Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (XLUUVs) would replace older vessels that are decommissioning as their nuclear cores wear out.
Boeing’s XLUUV vessel will be based on its Echo Voyager, the company’s newest and largest unmanned undersea vehicle. Echo Voyager is a 51-foot large UUV that can reach depths of 11,000 feet and can operate independently for months underwater. The vessel began sea testing in 2017.
“The 51-foot-long submersible is launched from a pier and can operate autonomously while sailing up to 6,500 nautical miles without being connected to a manned mother ship,” according to the Navy.
The giant unmanned submarines are fully autonomous and provide guidance and control, navigation, autonomy, situational awareness, core communications, power distribution, energy and power, propulsion and maneuvering, and mission sensors.
The vehicle’s advanced autonomy enables it to function at sea for months at a time, delivering a more affordable and effective result over traditional UUVs.
Boeing has designed and operated manned and unmanned deep-sea systems since the 1960s.