Northrop Grumman Corporation has announced the successful completion of the Manta Ray prototype, an uncrewed underwater vehicle designed to conduct long-duration, long-range missions in challenging ocean environments.

Named after the sea creature, Manta Ray represents a leap forward in Northrop Grumman’s undersea exploration technology, offering autonomous operation without the need for on-site human support.

According to GlobalData’s Thematic Intelligence on unmanned maritime vehicles, Northrop’s expertise in advanced networking solutions and platform development has led to its participation in the Angler UUV development programme for the US Navy alongside the Manta Ray programme. 

Unmanned maritime vehicles offer advantages, such as lower cost, reduced supply needs, stealthiness, and the ability to operate in risky environments. 

Unlike traditional crewed missions, Manta Ray’s design allows it to navigate and operate in remote undersea environments where human access is limited or impossible. This capability opens new possibilities for scientific research, environmental monitoring, and military applications.

Developed as part of a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) initiative, Manta Ray incorporates technologies to enhance energy management, increase payload capacity, and optimise propulsion efficiency. These advancements pave the way for extended undersea missions, making Manta Ray a versatile platform with a variety of applications.

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The US Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) selected three prime contractors for its Manta Ray project. The other chosen contractors included Martin Defense Group (formerly Navatek) and Metron. 

One of the key features of Manta Ray is its modular design, which enables easy shipment and in-field assembly using standard shipping containers. This flexibility allows for rapid deployment worldwide, supporting expeditionary missions and ensuring operational readiness in diverse undersea environments.

With its payload-capable architecture and autonomous operation capabilities, Manta Ray represents an advancement in undersea exploration technology for Northrop Grumman. The company’s continued commitment to the undersea domain has led it to develop solutions to meet the evolving needs of maritime operations.