Leidos announced on 17 August that it has won a contract for a new task order from Naval Sea Systems Command for the management of the Navy’s Overlord and Medium Uncrewed Surface Vessels (USVs) for $95m, if all options are exercised.

“This task order starts an important phase in the Navy’s evolution of USVs and integrating them into distributed maritime operations,” said Dave Lewis, Leidos Defense Group senior vice president and Maritime Systems operations manager. “The power of this technology lies in its ability to operate independently and extend the horizon of crewed ships. We look forward to supporting the Navy as they continue this important journey into the future.”

The contract has a one-year base period, with two one-year options, and expands Leidos’ experience managing USV operations and maintenance, following the delivery to the Navy of four operational medium-sized USVs: Mariner; Ranger; Sea Hunter; and Seahawk. 

Prototypes for the latter three vessels recently participating in the multinational exercise Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022, where they worked side-by-side other exercise participants, providing intelligence, carrying payloads and gathering data. 

The Mariner, like the Ranger before it, is a 205 feet long Overlord unmanned surface vessel, outfitted with next-gen command and control systems, autonomous navigation, and a virtualised Aegis Combat System. 

Seahawk is an upgraded version of Sea Hunter. Both Vessels are upwards of 130 feet long, with Sea Hunter coming in at 132 feet and the slightly larger Seahawk being 135 feet. They were designed to stay at sea for prolonged periods without crew, up to several months without taking on board personnel. CNBC reports that the price tag on the newest medium USV is $20m, with a running cost estimated to be between $15,000 and $20,000. 

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By GlobalData

According to GlobalData’s ‘Global Naval Vessels and Surface Combatants Market 2023-2033’ report, the adoption of USV’s is expected to ‘revolutionise’ naval warfare, bringing advancements to complex missions, including ISR and mine-hunting.