BLUEFIN Robotics will develop and deliver a new variant of the Knifefish unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) for the US Naval Research Laboratory (NRL).
The new vehicle will be based on a specialised version of the Bluefin-21 UUV, which is currently under development as a part of a subcontract awarded by General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems.
Developed in support of the US Navy’s surface mine countermeasure unmanned underwater vehicle (SMCM UUV) programme, the Bluefin-21 completed preliminary design review earlier this year.
Bluefin Robotics president and CEO David Kelly said that the company would incorporate many of the Knifefish UUV features into the new NRL system.
"This is just another example of how the UUV technology is maturing into a reliable, robust platform option for advancing new science and capability," Kelly added.
Featuring two-way Iridium satellite communications, the new NRL UUV will also be equipped with specialised sensors and empty sections to carry acoustic payloads such as a towed receiver array, and a reacquisition capability.
In addition to providing topside support equipment, the company will deliver graphical-user interface software tools for the NRL.
NRL Physical Acoustics branch acting head Dr Brian Houston said: "The science made possible with this vehicle will advance the nation’s mine-hunting capabilities that can be incorporated into future generations of UUVs."
The US NRL will use the new Knifefish variant to advance low-frequency broadband (LFBB) payload technology, as well as support broader mission to advance undersea warfare basic and applied research.