Boeing-Huntington Ingalls team to chase Navy undersea drone program

Boeing and the largest U.S. military shipbuilder Huntington Ingalls Industries have teamed up to design and build underwater drones as they plan to pursue an upcoming Navy contract for unmanned undersea vehicles.

The Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle program also known as "Orca" seeks a reconfigurable UUV with a modular, open architecture. A contract award is scheduled for September with a value to-be-determined, according to Deltek.

Orca should have a modular payload bay or bays of at least 60 inches in height and 125 inches in length, along with total volume of a minimum 325 feet, according to solicitation documents. The XLUUV should also be able to travel to a location, loiter and periodically establish communications, deploy payloads and then return to its home base.

This partnership encompasses Boeing's design and production facility in Huntington Beach, Calif. with HII's Newport News, Va. ship construction hub and Panama City, Fla.-based Undersea Solutions Group subsidiary.

In recent months, Boeing has tested its Echo Voyager underwater drone off the Southern California coast. Echo Voyager is built with a modular payload bay of up to 34 feet and designed as fully autonomous without needing a support vessel for launch or recovery.

Boeing is one of three major defense contractors that have acquired undersea drone manufacturers within the past year as airplane maker purchased California-based Liquid Robotics in December 2016.

Other UUV-related acquisitions have included General Dynamics' deal for Bluefin Robotics in February 2016 and L3 Technologies' buy of OceanServer in April of this year.

USG is one of several subsidiaries within HII's $1 billion government services segment the company launched late last year upon its purchase of Camber Corp. 

About the Author

Ross Wilkers is a senior staff writer for Washington Technology. He can be reached at rwilkers@washingtontechnology.com. Follow him on Twitter: @rosswilkers. Also connect with him on LinkedIn.

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