Navy to Invest Up to $1.43 Billion to Support Unmanned Mine Countermeasures Vehicles

July 22, 2015 - via US Navy

Aerographer’s Mate 2nd Class Robert Carlson, left, and Aerographer’s Mate 1st Class Melvin Lankford, assigned to Commander, Task Group 56.1, deploy a MK 18 MOD 2 Swordfish to survey the ocean floor during the International Mine Countermeasure Exercise (IMCMEX) in the Gulf of Oman on November 4, 2014. US Navy photo.

The Navy will spend as much as $1.43 billion in the next several years on unmanned surface and subsurface vehicles to conduct mine countermeasures missions.

Seven contractors were awarded three-year contracts, with two one-year options, for a range of engineering work: design, fabrication, installation, test and evaluation, fielding, maintenance, training and more for both hardware and software of existing and future systems, according to a July 6 contract announcement.

Applied Research Associates, Inc., Camber Corporation, Exelis, Inc., Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training, Mantech Advanced Systems International, MAR Range Services LLC and Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) won these contracts, which will allow them to compete for task orders throughout the next three years or longer if options are exercised.

“The Unmanned Maritime Systems Support contract is intended to support programs engaged in waterborne and underwater mine countermeasures (MCM), both surface and subsurface,” Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific spokesman Ed Budzyna told USNI News on July 21.

“MCM systems currently planned for deployment include the MK 18 Unmanned Underwater Vehicle system and Mine Hunting Unit Unmanned Surface Vehicle system. The scope of this contract covers current systems as well as any future waterborne and underwater technologies in the following maritime system mission areas: MCM; anti-submarine warfare; Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance; or force protection.”

The base value of the seven contracts add up to $846 million, representing a hefty investment in unmanned MCM capabilities in the coming years.

The MK18 Mod 2 Kingfish underwater unmanned vehicle first deployed to the Middle East in 2013 for testing, and in 2014 it participated in the International Mine Countermeasure Exercise (IMCMEX).

The Mine Hunting Unit Unmanned Surface Vehicle system was a rapid-acquisition collaboration between the U.S. Navy’s Unmanned Maritime Systems Program Office (PMS 406), Naval Sea Systems Command, Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport and Northrop Grumman. It combines Northrop Grumman’s AQS-24A Mine Detecting Sensor System with an 11-meter unmanned surface vehicle and was successfully demonstrated in the Arabian Gulf last fall.

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Author:Megan Eckstein

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