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Boeing nets $43M to build Navy's Orca extra large unmanned vehicles

By Allen Cone
Boeing nets $43M to build Navy's Orca extra large unmanned vehicles
The U.S. Navy awarded Boeing a $43 million contract to build four Orca Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicles, which are based on the Echo Voyager. Photo courtesy of Boeing

Feb. 14 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy awarded Boeing a $43 million contract to construct four Orca Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicles.

The contract covers fabrication, testing and support of the vehicles, known as XUUVs, the Pentagon announced Wednesday.

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The Orca is designed to be a modular design, with the base vehicle including guidance and control, navigation, autonomy, situational awareness, core communications, power distribution, energy and power, propulsion and maneuvering and mission sensors.

And they can be upgraded "in future increments to leverage advances in technology and respond to threat changes," according to the Navy. That includes upgrades to a payload bay, which is currently designed for objects 34 feet in length and 2,000 cubic feet in volume.

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In October 2017, Boeing was awarded $42.3 million and Lockheed Martin received $43.2 million in October 2017 for the design phase of the Orca XLUUV system and delivery of a technical data package, USNI.org reported in October 2017.

Boeing's XLUUVvessel will be based on its Echo Voyager, the company's newest and largest UUV in its Echo family of systems. The vessel has been undergoing testing since 2017.

The Echo Voyager 51-foot long vehicle is designed to perform at sea for months at a time, which the company says on its website is a more affordable, mission-capable solution over traditional UUVs. The vessels are powered by a hybrid combination of battery technology and marine diesel generators.

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And they can be used for a variety of missions that couldn't be performed by the previous systems, according to Boeing.

The competition for XLUUV requirements is still in source selection, the Navy said, and was not made public with the contract announcement.

The full amount of the contract modification has been obligated to Boeing from Navy fiscal 2019 research, development, test and evaluation funds at the time of award, and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

Work is expected to be completed by June 2022, mainly at Boeing's plant in Huntington Beach, Calif., as well as in Virginia Beach, Va. The remaining 44 percent will be done at 11 other locations across the United States.

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