The US Navy plans to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for the procurement of a 50 feet unmanned sea vehicle (USV) to function as a sensor and communications platform.
In the next two months, the service is set to issue a request for proposals for a new class of medium USV, up to 50 meters long, USNI reported quoting an unclassified readout of the program Wednesday.
The medium USV will function as a sensor and communications relay as part of a family of unmanned surface systems being developed by the service. The craft will be able to carry a payload equivalent to a 40-foot shipping container, will operate on its own for at least 60 days before needing to return to port, and be capable of refueling at sea, the report stated.
The craft will have to also be able to autonomously operate under the rules of the maritime road at a cruising speed of about 16 knots with a minimum range of about 4,500 nautical miles and operate via a government-provided communication relay system.
The size of the MUSV – 12 to 50 meters – ranges from about the size of the service’s 11-meter rigid hull inflatable boats (RHIBs) to the Navy’s Cyclone-class patrol craft (PCs).
It’s unclear what the price per hull of the craft will be, but the modular focus of the Navy’s USV vision would place the bulk of the costs in the modular payload rather than the hull itself.
The initial MUSVs will be used for a series of experimentation efforts before moving into a follow-on effort to refine the program, according to the Navy’s so-called Surface Capability Evolution Plan. Over the next decade, the service is set to develop quickly develop and field not only large and medium USVs but also a next-generation guided-missile frigate based on an existing US or allied design and a clean-sheet large surface combatant that will follow the Flight III Arleigh Burke-class of guided-missile destroyers.