Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) has partnered with Boeing to design and develop new unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs) in support of the US Navy's Extra Large UUV programme.

Boeing Phantom Works president Darryl Davis said that the new collaboration offers a cost-effective, low-risk solution to the US Navy, which will enable it to meet the emergent requirements that led to the navy’s advanced undersea prototyping programme.

Davis said: “We are combining Boeing’s pre-eminent UUV maritime engineering team with our nation’s leading shipbuilder and navy technical services company to get operational vehicles to the navy years ahead of the standard acquisition process.”

The collaboration will offer access to both the parties’ expertise and capability, while leveraging design and production facilities in Huntington Beach, California; Newport News, Virginia, and Panama City, Florida.

"We are combining Boeing’s pre-eminent UUV maritime engineering team with our nation’s leading shipbuilder and navy technical services company."

Boeing is currently conducting initial sea trials for its newest and largest fully-autonomous UUV known as Echo Voyager off the Southern California coast in the US.

The trials will test the vehicle’s communications, autonomy, propulsion, systems integration and battery operation via a mix of surface swims and shallow dives.

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Echo Voyager is designed to conduct multiple missions and features a modular payload bay of up to 34ft, which provides improved endurance and enhanced payload capacity compared to traditional UUVs.

The 51ft-long vehicle is equipped with a hybrid rechargeable power system and does not require any support vessel for launch or recovery. It can also autonomously carry out operations at sea for months before returning to port.