Lockheed Martin‘s Dry Combat Submersible (DCS), which was manufactured for US Special Operations Command, has reached initial operating capability (IOC) last month, according to a recent announcement by the original equipment manufacturer (OEM) on 24 July 2023.

Lockheed designed the DCS to transport a special operations team to their destination and enables personnel to arrive discreetly to their desired exit point.

The unique capability that sets the submersible apart is its lock-in/lock-out technology, which enables US special operators to get in and out of the vehicle while traversing long distances entirely submerged and undetected.

Additionally, Special Operations Forces will be safe to travel long distanced below the surface of the ocean without a wetsuit and without exposure to the elements.

Lockheed manufactures the DCS at its Palm Beach, Florida facility. Sustainment operations will include lifecycle support, post-delivery logistics support, pilot and special operator training, and training equipment to ensure the safe and effective operation of the new capability in future special forces efforts.

“The DCS provides safe, clandestine delivery for occupants over long distances in a completely dry environment and features a lock-in and lock-out chamber.

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“Occupants arrive at the mission warm, rested, hydrated and ready, making this vessel a key advantage in mission success,” Gregg Bauer, C6ISR Vice President and General Manager at Lockheed Martin, stated.

The DCS adds to the global underwater warfare market

The ‘Global underwater warfare systems market’ was valued at $4.9bn in 2022 and is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 3.41% by 2032. GlobalData expects it to reach $6.8bn by 2032 and cumulatively value $64.9bn over the forecast period.

The market is expected to be dominated by the Sonar segment, which accounts for 58.8% of the market, followed by Torpedo segment with 13.5% share. The Asia-Pacific dominates the sector with a share of 35.3%, followed by Europe and North America, which shares of 30.0% and 24.6%, respectively.

Submersibles provide little to Special Force operations as the market is dominated by systems that provide particular capabilities, such as tracking, mapping, and torpedo strikes. However, Lockheed Martin’s DCS has entered an untapped potential use case for submersibles, which validates the OEM’s assertion that the submersible’s IOC is a “milestone [that] represents a transformational capability for US Special Operations Command forces in Maritime and Undersea Systems.”