Home Americas US Navy picks L3 Technologies to develop medium USV prototype

US Navy picks L3 Technologies to develop medium USV prototype

Sea Hunter USV
Illustration: The US Navy is already operating the Sea Hunter medium displacement unmanned surface vehicle prototype

The US Navy has awarded to L3 Technologies a $34.9 million contract to develop a single medium unmanned surface vehicle (MUSV) prototype, with options to procure up to eight additional MUSVs.

Funding is in place on this contract for the initial prototype. Should all eight MUSVs be built and all contract options exercised, its value would be $294.5 million, if additional funding is provided in future budget years.

The MUSV program will provide pier-launched, self-deploying, modular, open architecture surface vessels capable of autonomous navigation and mission execution. The navy wants to use MUSVs to produce, deploy and disburse intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and electronic warfare capabilities, and provide/improve distributed situational awareness and sensing to the battle force. The navy classifies an MUSV as a vessel measuring between 12 and 50 meters in length.

“The award of medium USV is the culmination of a great dialogue with industry to right-size the requirements for a capable, reliable, and affordable unmanned surface vehicle that will employ a variety of modular payloads,” said CAPT Pete Small, program manager, Unmanned Maritime Systems (PMS 406), within the Program Executive Office, Unmanned and Small Combatants at Naval Sea Systems Command. “Leveraging new rapid prototyping authorities and mature commercial technology will allow us to quickly deliver a capable prototype to the Surface Development Squadron to conduct experimentation and learning in support of the navy’s plans for a future fleet incorporating unmanned vessels.”

Delivery of this first prototype is expected in early FY23. The president’s 2021 budget request for the navy includes additional funding for a second MUSV prototype in FY23. The navy noted that the acquisition strategy for the FY23 vessel is to be determined, adding that the development contract contains options for additional USVs.