Feb. 21 (UPI) -- The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency has awarded Lockheed Martin with a $12.3 million contract for phase one of the the Manta Ray program.
The contract funds research, development and demonstration of an extra-large underwater drone.
According to DARPA, the purpose of the Manta Ray program is to create a new class of long duration, long range, payload-capable undersea drones -- underwater vessels that could operate without the need for logistic support or maintenance from human staff.
More than half -- 52 percent -- of work on the contract will take place in West Palm Beach, Fla., with other work taking place in Cherry Hill, N.J., and a variety of locations in the U.S.
This contract has an estimated completion date of January 2021.
Research and development funds in the amount of $1.15 million are obligated at the time of the award.
This contract was awarded through a competitive bidding process after bids were solicited in June 2019.