Sept. 9 (UPI) — The U.S. Navy’s request for proposals of prototype designs for Large Unmanned Surface Vessels calls for externally-controlled navigation and lengths of about 180 feet.
The official release of the Request for Proposals follows the early release of specifications for the first block of corvette-sized LUSVs, which was first released in August.
The final RFP follows an LUSV Industry Day in June that including over 80 military contractors expressing interest in submitting proposals, according to the Navy.
The Navy expects to start procuring the vessels in 2021, when it plans to issue the first contracts for Detail Design and Construction of the drone ships.
“These prototype design contracts will integrate common government furnished equipment warfare systems with commercially derived platforms in order to mature specifications and cost estimates” to further inform the now-published RFP, the Navy said in a statement.
The RFP specifies that the LUSV will be a high-endurance, reconfigurable ship with a large-payload capacity to augment the Navy’s surface force, and take on a variety of warfare operations either on its own or with manned surface combatants.
It is also expected to be capable of autonomous navigation, maneuvering compliant with international maritime regulations and remote operation by manned warships or control stations.
The Navy intends to develop three versions of the unmanned vehicle — the LUSV, a medium unmanned surface vehicle and the extra-large unmanned undersea vehicle [XLUUV] — and requested $628.8 million in its 2020 budget for the programs.
Boeing Co. is already at work on the XLUUV program.