Rolls-Royce will design and develop a mini and efficient water jet propulsion system to power the US Navy's X-class unmanned surface vessel (USV), modular unmanned surface craft littoral (MUSCL).
As part of the Candent Technologies-led innovative small propulsion system project, Rolls-Royce will develop a water jet with a diameter of just 100mm that will be capable of quietly propelling the craft in support of remotely controlled operations.
Candent Technologies has been selected by the US Navy for the award of an SBIR Phase I contract to develop a high-efficiency heavy fuel propulsion system for small surface unmanned craft.
The technology applications include remotely piloted air vehicles, as well as other small manned and unmanned craft, both military and commercial.
Rolls-Royce Naval Marine Advanced Programs director Dennis Duke said: "We are developing and adapting our world-leading water jet technologies as part of a highly efficient propulsion system, which will enable these advanced craft to go about their duties criss-crossing waterways and oceans, often for months at a time."
Capable of providing thrust to move the craft at speeds in excess of 25k, the water jets can sustain a cruise speed of 15k while providing high levels of manoeuvrability and efficiency for navies worldwide.
Ideally suited to vessels operating in shallow waters, the new water jets will be the smallest design of Rolls-Royce to date.
The X-class unmanned surface vessel has been developed to reduce risk to manned forces and conduct repetitive surveillance tasks.
The MUSCL two-man portable craft will support intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance missions to provide real-time monitoring of suspicious vessels, personnel, and activity along waterways, shorelines, and under bridges and piers for users.