US Navy Introduces First Orca Drone Submarine
The US Navy’s Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) has unveiled its first-ever Orca Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (XLUUV).
The organization posted photos on its social media account of the submarine christening and first in-water test conducted late last month.
The Orca project was awarded to Boeing in a $274 million contract in February 2019 that includes the fabrication, testing, and delivery of five such drone submarines.
According to NAVSEA, the unveiling of the Orca marked an important milestone in its efforts to further develop reliable undersea capabilities.
The service explained that the development of a test asset system will also play a critical role in the production and future performance of the submarine.
The Orca XLUUV
Based on Boeing’s 51-foot Echo Voyager, the Orca is designed to conduct mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, and electronic warfare missions.
It has a top speed of eight knots (14.8 kilometers/9.2 miles per hour) and a maximum range of 6,500 nautical miles (12,038 kilometers).
During a briefing in 2019, Captain Pete Small explained that the drone submarine program would focus primarily on system characteristics, payload integration, and mine warfare capabilities.
It features a modular design with the core vehicle providing guidance and control, navigation, and improved situational awareness.
The submarine also has an open architecture to enable future integration of advanced technologies.