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Boeing and Huntington Ingalls Industries Team for Extra Large UUV

 

The Boeing Company and Huntington Ingalls Industries have formed a team to design and produce unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs) for the U.S. Navy’s Extra Large UUV (XLUUV) program, according to a Boeing news release.

“This partnership provides the Navy a cost-effective, low-risk path to meet the emergent needs that prompted the Navy’s Advanced Undersea Prototyping program,” said Darryl Davis, president, Boeing Phantom Works. “We are combining Boeing’s preeminent UUV maritime engineering team with our nation’s leading shipbuilder and Navy technical services company to get operational vehicles to the Navy years ahead of the standard acquisition process.”

The Navy’s XLUUV program seeks to create a network of UUVs carrying sensors or acting as communications nodes. The size of the XLUUV is meant to provide it with the ability to carry different payloads for a range of missions, however.

Boeing has been testing its Echo Voyager UUV off the coast of Southern California. Boeing’s newest and largest UUV, Echo Voyager is fully autonomous and is able to operate at sea for months before independently returning to port, requiring no support vessels for launch and recovery, according to Boeing. It is designed for multiple missions and could be configured with a modular payload bay of up to 34 feet to increase endurance and/or payload capacity over traditional UUVs.

extra large uuv echo voyager

The Echo Voyager team places a panel onto the vehicle. The 51-foot-long unmanned, undersea vehicle (UUV) is not only autonomous while underway, but it can also be launched and recovered without the support ships that normally assist UUVs. Boeing photo

Echo Voyager employs a hybrid rechargeable power system. Lithium-ion batteries propel it beneath the surface until their charge runs low, then the submarine surfaces, raises a snorkel mast, and runs diesel-powered generators to recharge the batteries. Like a conventional manned diesel-electric submarine, once the batteries are charged it lowers its snorkel mast, and submerges again. The Echo Voyager can travel 7,500 nautical miles on its batteries and a full load of diesel fuel, with an endurance of up to six months at sea.

The Navy’s XLUUV program seeks to create a network of UUVs carrying sensors or acting as communications nodes. The size of the XLUUV is meant to provide it with the ability to carry different payloads for a range of missions, however.

“We look forward to a long relationship with Boeing as we embark together to field this unmanned force-multiplier for the Navy,” said Andy Green, executive vice president of Huntington Ingalls Industries and president of the company’s Technical Solutions division. “I am confident this team will continue redefining the autonomy paradigm for UUVs.”

The partnership  between Boeing and HII will encompass design and production facilities in Huntington Beach, California; Newport News, Virginia; and Panama City, Florida.