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US Awards $984M Naval Drone Contract to 49 Firms

The US Department of Defense has awarded $982 million in contracts to 49 defense and technology firms to develop systems for its current and future unmanned surface vehicles (USV).

Saab, Anduril Industries, Bollinger Shipyards, Teledyne FLIR, and General Atomics headline the list of chosen contractors.

Marinette Marine Corp., Honeywell International, Leonardo Electronics, and Microsoft are also contract recipients.

According to a Pentagon announcement, the companies will deliver payloads, non-payload sensors, mission support systems, and autonomy and vehicle control systems for the naval drones.

Each of them will be guaranteed a minimum of $1,000 to begin the work for the contract.

The Pentagon expects all work to be completed by February 2025, with a possible extension to 2030.

Need for More Investments

Last month, defense officials told Reuters that the US Navy’s efforts to build a fleet of unmanned vessels are faltering because it remains wedded to big shipbuilding programs.

The proliferation of USVs in the Black Sea amid the Ukraine war is reportedly an indication that sea drone warfare has arrived.

The service’s program lead on drones, Rear Adm. Kevin Smith, had the same stance, saying the navy must move its unmanned systems beyond just surveillance roles to be able to carry out more consequential missions.

“I’m confident that the future of our Navy is going to be a mix of conventionally manned platforms with unmanned and autonomous platforms all teamed together,” Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Lisa Franchetti told Defense News.

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