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40 companies net up to $982.1M for Navy's drone vessel program

Sea Hunter, an unmanned sea surface vehicle developed in partnership between the Office of Naval Research and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, on an autonomous sail from San Diego to Hawaii and back—the first ship ever to do so autonomously. The Navy has just awarded up to $982.1 million to 40 companies for support of its unmanned surface vehicle program. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy
Sea Hunter, an unmanned sea surface vehicle developed in partnership between the Office of Naval Research and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, on an autonomous sail from San Diego to Hawaii and back—the first ship ever to do so autonomously. The Navy has just awarded up to $982.1 million to 40 companies for support of its unmanned surface vehicle program. Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy

Feb. 5 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy has awarded contracts to 40 companies, with a combined potential value of $982.1 million, to support the Navy's Unmanned Surface Vehicle Family of Systems, according to the Pentagon.

Unmanned surface vehicles are boats that operate on the surface of the water without a crew.

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Historically USVs have been used for minesweeping applications and a 2013 study recommended their use for observation and collection of information, military electronic warfare, defense against small boats, testing and training, search and rescue, and the support of other unmanned vehicles.

In July the branch formally announced it was looking for proposals for a vessel up to 164 feet long, to function as a sensor and communications relay in part of a family of unmanned surface systems under development, with the intent of announcing an award recipient in the first quarter of 2020.

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The Navy's RFP announcement said the medium unmanned surface vehicle would be a "pier-launched, self-deploying modular, open architecture surface vehicle capable of autonomous navigation and mission execution" and that the RFP contained options for additional unmanned surface vehicles.

Under the indefinite-delivery/indefinite-quantity, multiple award contract, the listed businesses -- which include BAE Systems, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and Leidos -- will have the opportunity to compete in the awarded functional area for individual delivery orders in support of the program.

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Fiscal 2019 research, development, test and evaluation funding in the amount of $1,000 -- $40,000 total -- is obligated under each contract's initial delivery order and will expire at the end of the current fiscal year.

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The contract has a five-year base period and one five-year ordering period option, which, if exercised, would bring the cumulative value of this contract to $982.1 million.

Work will be performed in various U.S. locations in accordance with each delivery order and work is expected to be completed by February 2025.

If the five-year ordering period option is exercised the work will be completed by February 2030.

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The contracts were competitively procured via Federal Business Opportunities with 42 offers received.

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