U.S. Military Unveils Next Generation Naval Weapon
Manta Ray

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) released new photos of a next generation weapon that is in development for the U.S. Military this week, a long-range, uncrewed underwater vehicle (UUV) capable of firing a payload at enemy targets.

The Manta Ray prototype built by Northrop Grumman is being tested in the waters off the coast of Southern California, the agency said in a statement.

“Testing demonstrated at-sea hydrodynamic performance, including submerged operations using all the vehicle’s modes of propulsion and steering: buoyancy, propellers, and control surfaces,” the statement said. “Northrop Grumman shipped the Manta Ray prototype in subsections from the build location in Maryland to its test location in California. The demonstrated ease of shipping and assembly supports the possibility of rapid deployment throughout the world without crowding valuable pier space at naval facilities.”

Manta Ray will be able to operate for long-range and long-duration missions in a wide variety of maritime environments “without the need for human-present logistic support or maintenance offer the potential for persistent operations in forward environments.”

The Manta Ray program plans to advance new groundbreaking technologies including, but not limited to:

  • Novel energy management techniques for UUV operations and undersea energy harvesting techniques at operationally relevant depths;
  • Low-power, high efficiency undersea propulsion systems;
  • New low-power means of underwater detection and classification of hazards or counter detection threats;
  • Mission management approaches for extended durations while accounting for dynamic maritime environments;
  • Unique approaches for leveraging existing maritime data sets and exploiting novel maritime parameters for high-efficiency navigation and/or C3; and
  • New approaches to mitigate biofouling, corrosion, and other material degradation for long duration missions.

Dr. Kyle Woerner, DARPA program manager for Manta Ray said that Manta Ray’s testing has been successful.


“The combination of cross-country modular transportation, in-field assembly, and subsequent deployment demonstrates a first-of-kind capability for an extra-large UUV,” he said. “Shipping the vehicle directly to its intended area of operation conserves energy that the vehicle would otherwise expend during transit. Once deployed, the vehicle uses efficient, buoyancy-driven gliding to move through the water. The craft is designed with several payload bays of multiple sizes and types to enable a wide variety of naval mission sets.”

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