WASHINGTON: The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has selected Northrop Grumman Systems Corp. and Martin Defense Group to advance to the second phase of its Manta Ray unmanned undersea vehicle program.
Both companies will develop full-scale demonstration models of the vehicle tasked “to operate on long-duration, long-range missions in ocean environments,” according to a Dec. 20 statement from the Pentagon research agency.
“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,” said Cmdr. Kyle Woerner, Manta Ray’s program manager. “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.”
The first phase of Manta Ray began in 2020 and focused on preliminary testing approaches for vehicle energy management, reliability, navigation and obstacle avoidance, among other things.
A video published by DARPA illustrates how the UUV might operate, gliding just a few feet off the ocean floor. At one point in the video, the vehicle deploys a smaller sensor-like payload that leaves the UUV for several moments, begins to emit a signal and then returns to the Manta Ray.
“The Manta Ray program concluded Phase 1 with Critical Design Reviews that demonstrated design maturity and readiness for advancement to Phase 2,” according to DARPA’s statement. “The selected performers will now work on subsystem testing followed by fabrication and in-water demonstrations of full-scale integrated vehicles.”
Manta Ray is one of several unmanned maritime systems moving through the Pentagon’s research agencies that will likely end up in the Navy’s fleet. The sea service recently announced it started construction on a California-based facility that will house many of these systems as well as the testing activities they undergo.
DARPA taps Northrop, Martin Defense Group for Manta Ray UUV Phase 2 – Breaking Defense Breaking Defense is written by Justin Katz for breakingdefense.com