The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has selected Science Applications International Corporation (SAIC) as the prime contractor to design, build and test the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) continuous trail unmanned vessel (ACTUV) prototype.
The three-year $58m single-award, cost-plus fixed-fee (CPFF) contract supports two and three phases of the unmanned autonomous surface vessel programme and includes an 18-month $1m option for fourth phase.
A final design and production plan for the ACTUV prototype will be prepared by the company under the programme's second phase, whereas construction and government testing of the prototype is scheduled to be complete in the third and fourth phases respectively.
Based on experience gained from phase one involving the concept design, SAIC will work with the US research agency to demonstrate an unmanned surface vessel that will be capable of tracking silent threats such as diesel-electric submarines.
In the programme's first phase, the company provided conceptual design services and supported the agency in creating a wave-piercing trimaran solution.
DARPA's autonomous vessel has been designed to follow enemy submarines for months and travel thousands of miles without major intervention and with limited human assistance.
The programme will be supported by Oregon Iron Works and Christensen Shipyards for ship design, construction and propulsion; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's Jet Propulsion Lab, and Carnegie Mellon University for autonomy.
Activities under the contract will be carried out mainly in Virginia, Florida, Pennsylvania, Maryland, Mississippi, California, Washington, Rhode Island, and Oregon.
The agency expects to test the operational unmanned vessel prototype in mid-2015.