The Navy intends to release a request for proposals for a large-diameter unmanned underwater vehicle in fiscal year 2014, a Navy official said.
The time line for the LDUUV is Gate 1 in FY-12 and milestone A in FY-13, leading up to the RFP release in FY-14, according to Capt. Duane Ashton, unmanned maritime systems program manager, in an address to industry during a conference in Washington hosted by the Association for Unmanned Vehicle Systems International on Feb. 9.
Ashton encouraged industry to participate in broad agency announcements released by the Office of Naval Research.
Addressing a question from industry about LDUUV payloads, he explained there will be separate payloads specific to the Littoral Combat Ship, guided-missile submarine and Virginia-class attack submarine.
"It kind of shows why that open architecture modularity for the [LDUUV] is going to be so important," he said. The Navy has a "mechanism:" the Undersea Dominance Steering Group chaired by N2/N6 [naval intelligence and communications directorate]. The group meets quarterly to make sure everyone is on the same page, he noted.
Inside the Navy reported in October that the Navy would like to procure 10 LDUUVs, according to Rear Adm. Barry Bruner, undersea warfare director.
The service could "send them out to go do things like mine clearance, to do things like [intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance], to tell you where the enemy's at when you're coming out, to do things like bottom-mapping so you can insert whatever you need to put on the ocean floor," he said.
In the summer of 2013, the Navy plans to demonstrate a universal launch and recovery module. Rear Adm. David Johnson, program executive officer for submarines, explained this is an alternative method to launch and recover a LDUUV without having a dry-dock shelter on the back of a ship. Potentially, this method could be used on SSGNs and Virginia-class subs.