Navy targets prototypes to support human-operated and autonomous weapons and vehicles

Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Colby A. Mothershead/U.S. Navy

Only certain, U.S.-based companies will be considered for collaboration.

The Navy kicked off an effort to drive the making of prototypes for human-powered and autonomous weapons and vehicles.

According to a presolicitation updated on March 30, the Naval Surface Warfare Center’s Panama City Division “has a requirement for prototyping in support of development, integration, demonstration, testing and evaluation, and delivery of prototype systems, subsystems, components, materials and technologies to support existing or emerging manned or unmanned vehicles, weapons and weapons control systems”—specifically related to mine, amphibious and Naval surface warfare; diving and life support; coastal and underwater intelligence surveillance; and reconnaissance and other missions in nearshore and riverine environments.

Only eligible, domestically-owned small businesses with Top Secret / Sensitive Compartmented Information clearance will be considered. 

The Navy is planning for the resulting contract “to be an indefinite delivery indefinite quantity” or IDIQ “‘supply-type contract,’” and will likely lean on delivery orders, to “provide the flexibility necessary for the different types of work required,” officials wrote in the presolicitation. At this point, the contract period of performance is set for “5 years, 12-month base period with four 12-month option periods,” they added.

A request for proposals is projected to be launched around April 27, with submissions due a month after its posted.

“To receive a copy of the DRAFT Specification, interested parties must be registered within System for Award Management and be a domestically owned entity,” officials wrote. Potential participants can reach out to a point of contact’s email address, listed in the presolicitation, to receive a copy of that draft. 

Ahead of releasing its formal solicitation, the Navy’s hosting a virtual conference via Microsoft Teams on April 8. 

In the presolicitation, officials noted that the “government anticipates a single award,” and that the “incumbent on this effort is Serco, Inc.” Earlier this month, the Defense Department announced that the company was awarded a more than $15 million deal “to exercise options for the development, integration, testing and evaluation of prototype systems into existing or emerging unmanned vehicles, unmanned weapons and unmanned weapons control systems,” related to the areas also mentioned on the latest effort.

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