The US Navy has tested the Snakehead large displacement uncrewed undersea vehicle (LDUUV) prototype for an end-to-end intelligence preparation of operational environment (IPOE) mission.

The demonstration was conducted at Narragansett Bay Test Facility on 21 July. It was performed by a team led by the Naval Undersea Warfare Centre (NUWC) Division Newport.

As part of the test, the LDUUV carried out a long-distance ingress, as well as a sonar survey box.

The vehicle then egressed back to the test facility, marking a new milestone in total sortie endurance.

Conducted with Draper Laboratory’s Maritime Open Architecture Autonomy, the sortie gathered sonar data using a technology from the Pennsylvania State University Applied Research Laboratory.

The IPOE mission is also a major step towards determining the area of interest and further pushes into planning a relevant course of action for supporting the warfighter.

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Undersea Warfare Platforms and Payload Integration Department head Chris DelMastro said: “The accomplishment of this mission in the system’s intended operational environment was a big step for the program to gain confidence in the vehicle software and hardware systems, as the team pushes toward extended endurance operations and layering additional system capability.”

The Snakehead is a multi-mission, reconfigurable, modular LDUUV, which can be deployed from both submarines and surface ships.

The LDUUV has so far performed 155 in-water sorties and more than 78 hours of runtime, using a government-owned modular open system architecture for mission planning, operations and analysis.

In the past year, the team has also carried out around 190-hour long simulations using full-up vehicle software-in-the-loop simulation and hardware-in-the-loop tools.

All such missions proved that the software is operating as per the requirements and that the mission parameters are set aptly.