Robert Brooks, American Machinist
30 October 2017
Lockheed Martin Corp. has a $43.2-million contract from the U.S. Navy to develop a design for the Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (XLUUV, known as Orca), a long-haul, long-distance unmanned submarine capable of carrying various types of payloads, such as sensors or weapons.
Lockheed Martin workers in Palm Beach, Fla., will work on Orca, with additional support operations in Manassas, Va., and Syracuse, York, and Owego, N.Y. The timing of the design phase was not announced.
The contract covers the design phase of a two-stage development program. What follows will be a competitive, production phase for up to nine unmanned undersea vehicles.
Earlier it was reported that Boeing Co. also would be participating in the design-phase XLUUV/Orca program, though it has not confirmed its participation.
The Orca will have a reconfigurable payload bay, up to 325 cubic meters, according to some reports. As described by Lockheed, the vessels’ missions would see it transit to an area of operation, and “loiter with the ability to periodically establish communications, deploy payloads, and transit home.” Navy personnel would launch, recover, operate, and communicate with the vehicle in safety, from a home base.
“With each new undersea vehicle that Lockheed Martin designs, we bring to bear the state-of-the-art in technology, and innovative system integration of those technologies, to increase the range, reach, and effectiveness of undersea forces and their missions,” stated Frank Drennan, director, submersibles and autonomous systems, business development. “With decades of experience supporting the U.S. Navy’s mission, our engineers are approaching this design with a sense of urgency and continued agility.”