According to Ben Werner at ISNI News, the U.S. Navy has awarded Boeing a $43-million contract to build four Orca Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (XLUUVs) that will become multi-mission for the service, according to a Wednesday Pentagon contract announcement.

Boeing based its winning Orca XLUUV design on its Echo Voyager unmanned diesel-electric submersible. The 51-foot-long submersible is launched from a pier and can operate autonomously while sailing up to 6,500 nautical miles without being connected to a manned mother ship, according to the Navy. Eventually, the Navy could also use the Orca XLUUV for mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, electronic warfare and strike missions, according to a Navy outline of the system’s capability development.

“We are pleased with the Navy’s decision to award Boeing a contract to build and deliver four Orca Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicles, and are committed to providing this important autonomous undersea capability to meet the Navy’s unique mission needs,” the company said in a Thursday statement to USNI News following an earlier version of this post.

The Navy also considered the Lockheed Martin Autonomous Underwater Vehicle system. In October 2017, both companies received design phase awards – $43.2 million to Lockheed Martin, $42.3 million to Boeing.

Werner notes that the Navy is also exploring the possible use of Large Diameter Unmanned Underwater Vehicles (LDUUVs) as another rapid acquisition program. The LDUUV would be a vehicle launched from either a Virginia-class fast attack submarine or from a surface ship. LDUUVs could perform similar missions as the XLUUV, however, the LDUUV would need to remain relatively close to the mother ship instead of operating autonomously like the XLUUV.

The following is the Navy contract announcement:

The Boeing Co., Huntington Beach, California, is awarded a $43,000,000 fixed-priced-incentive modification to previously awarded contract N00024-17-C-6307 for the fabrication, test, and delivery of four Orca Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (XLUUVs) and associated support elements. The Orca XLUUV will be an open architecture, reconfigurable Unmanned Undersea Vehicle. The Orca XLUUV will be modular in construction with the core vehicle providing guidance and control, navigation, autonomy, situational awareness, core communications, power distribution, energy and power, propulsion and maneuvering, and mission sensors. The Orca XLUUV will have well-defined interfaces for the potential of implementing cost-effective upgrades in future increments to leverage advances in technology and respond to threat changes. The Orca XLUUV will have a modular payload bay, with defined interfaces to support current and future payloads for employment from the vehicle. The competition for XLUUV requirements is still in source-selection, and therefore the specific contract award amount is considered source-selection sensitive information (see 41 U.S. Code 2101, et seq., Federal Acquisition Regulation 2.101 and 3.104) and will not be made public at this time. Work will be performed in Huntington Beach, California (29 percent); Virginia Beach, Virginia (27 percent); Waukesha, Wisconsin (8 percent); East Aurora, New York (7 percent); Concord, Massachusetts (7 percent); Camden, New Jersey (5 percent); Smithfield, Pennsylvania (4 percent); Attleboro, Massachusetts (3 percent); City of Industry, California (3 percent); El Cajon, California (3 percent); Fairfield, New Jersey (2 percent); Ontario, California (1 percent); and Farmingdale, New York (1 percent), and is expected to be complete by June 2022. Fiscal 2019 research, development, test, and evaluation (Navy) funds in the amount of $43,000,000 will be obligated at time of award and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The Naval Sea Systems Command, Washington, District of Columbia, is the contracting activity.

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