Boeing was recently in the news because of its decision of ceasing production of Airbus A380. However, today we are talking about Boeing because it has been awarded a $43 million contract by the US Navy for building four of the Orca Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (XLUUVs) and support gear.
The 15.5 meters long unmanned submarines will be built in collaboration with the Huntington Ingalls Industries and will be operating in blue water environments thanks to the autonomous navigation systems and a fuel module that provides a range of 12,038 km.
The unmanned underwater vehicles have been around for some time and are becoming the norm in civilian and naval marine operations. However, they have remained small, short range, and tethered to their host vessels. Blue water underwater operations have remained reserved to the larger and manned submarines. The purchase of the Orca, however, indicates that the US Navy recognizes the increasing importance of robotic submarines becoming part of the fleet.
The Orca Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicles have been derived from Boeing’s Echo Voyager. The Orca is powered using diesel and electricity and can be used for the sake of mine countermeasures, anti-surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, strike missions, and electronic warfare apart from many other applications. It features an open architecture and modular construction that includes a payload bay measuring in at a length of 10.4 meters with a volume of 2,000 cubic ft.
The Orca doesn’t need any other ship for launching or recovering or even support thanks to its autonomous guidance and control, situational awareness, navigation, power distribution, core communications, mission sensor systems, and propulsion and maneuvering. Because it is unmanned, it also implies that it does not require any life support systems and can remain underwater for months without breaking a sweat.
What do you think of this amazing feat? Do let us know!