The U.S. Navy awarded Leidos $12 million for the design of the Medium Unmanned Undersea Vehicle.
In May 2020, the Navy released request for proposal (RFP) for the design, development, test and production for a Medium Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (MUUV).
The service presently uses the 150-pound small Mk 18 Mod 1 Swordfish and 600-pound medium Mk 18 Mod 2 Kingfish UUV to find mine-like objects in the water. Crews launch and recover the tube-shaped UUV from rigid-hull inflatable boats using a small handling system, and the UUV searches the waters and sends information back to a post-mission analysis cell ashore.
The submarine community has been developing a Razorback UUV that was initially meant to be launched and recovered via a submarine’s dry deck shelter and would carry environment-sensing payloads. The Navy determined it also wanted a Razorback variant that could be launched and recovered from a submarine’s torpedo tube, USNI News reports.
The MUUV will ultimately cover the Kingfish’s surface-launched mine countermeasures capabilities and the Razorback’s torpedo tube-launched battlespace-sensing capabilities only – it will not include the dry deck shelter configuration, according to a Naval Sea Systems Command news release.
There are two other similar projects launched by the Navy – to develop Lionfish small UUV and Viperfish medium UUV. Two existing vehicles — L3Harris Technologies′ Iver 4 and Huntington Ingalls Industries’ Remus 300 — are being considered for the program.
The Razorback and the Mk 18 Mod 2 could merge into a single program called Viperfish because both are based off the Remus 600 UUV design.
Capt. Dan Malatesta, the program manager for expeditionary missions within the Program Executive Office for Unmanned and Small Combatants was quoted as saying by Defense News that the Navy is working closely with the ExMCM operators to understand the upgrades they need for their current Mk 18 Mod 2s. These include better sonars and cameras for clearer pictures of potential threats in the water, automatic target recognition aides, autonomy software so the UUV can decide to circle back around to a potential item of interest and provide additional imagery for processing.