May 3 (UPI) -- AAI Corp. was awarded a $20.5 million contract for engineering and technical services for the unmanned influence sweep system, which allows the Navy's Littoral Combat Ships to perform mine warfare sweep missions.
Work is expected to be completed by this September, including 70 percent in AAI's plant in Hunt Valley, Md., and 30 percent in Slidell, La., the Defense Department announced Thursday.
The system, which is part of the mine countermeasures mission package, allows LCS crews to sweep for acoustic, magnetic, and magnetic/acoustic combination mine types.
The UISS program will satisfy the Navy's need to conduct rapid, wide-area mine clearance, according to the Navy.
In January, the UISS, as well as the Knifefish, another unmanned undersea vehicle, completed successful testing aboard the USS Independence.
Both systems verified the communications link between Independence and the unmanned systems, as well as executed multiple launch and recovery evolutions from the ship.
"These test events mark a critical milestone for the LCS Mission Module Program, having now successfully tested each vehicle in the MCM MP -- that is, an MH-60S helicopter, MQ-8B Fire Scout unmanned helicopter, UISS and Knifefish UUV -- on board an Independence-variant LCS," the Navy said in a news release.
These systems then will undergo shore-based testing before completing final integration on an LCS. The LCS Mission Module program office plans to incrementally deliver MCM MP systems to the fleet in advance of the formal MCM MP initial operational test and evaluation events beginning in 2021.
Navy fiscal 2019 research, development, test and evaluation funding in the amount of $7.7 million has been obligated when the new contract was awarded, and will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year.
On Thursday, Huntington Ingalls Industries received a $931.7 million contract from the U.S. Navy for planning yard services to support littoral combat ships. The planning yard services include post-delivery life-cycle support, maintenance development and scheduling, and modernization planning, engineering and material support, the company said.
There are two versions of the LCS -- the Freedom variant, built by Lockheed Martin and Marinette Marine, and the Independence variant, built by General Dynamics and Austal USA. The Navy has 33 LCS vessels planned, under construction or in service.