Navy awards up to $228M for unmanned maritime systems
Seven companies will compete for work focusing on countering naval mines and improvised explosives in the Pacific.
CORRECTION: This original version of this story incorrectly added the maximum value of each contract to come up with a potential total of $1.4 billion. According to the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center Pacific, however, the total potential value of the base contract is $135.5 million, with a maximum overall potential value of $228.4 million if both options are exercised. The reason the potential amounts for each company vary is that they each have different capabilities and so are eligible for different amounts of work. The story has been changed to reflect the correct amounts.
The Navy has awarded contracts that could total as much as $228.4 million to seven companies for unmanned maritime operations in the Pacific region focusing on mine countermeasures.
Each of the companies was awarded a three-year contract with two one-year options under which they will compete for work in unmanned maritime systems support for the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Center, Pacific’s Maritime Systems Division. According to a draft solicitation posted in May 2014, the division is looking to support a Secretary of Defense requirement to deploy prototype and operational systems against underwater threats that include mines and improvised explosive devices.
Under the terms of the contract, each company is eligible for a base amount of work with an option that, if exercised, could reach a higher total.
The companies on the contract, with their base and maximum amounts are:
Exelis—base: $135.6 million; option: up to $228.5 million.
Applied Research Associates—base: $130.8 million; option: up to $221.6 million.
SAIC—base: $128.9 million; option: up to $217.5 million.
Lockheed Martin Mission Systems and Training—base: $126.4 million; option: up to $214.2 million.
Camber Corp—base $110.9 million; option: up to $185.9 million.
MAR Range Services—base: $108.9 million; option: up to $183.3 million.
ManTech Advanced Systems International—base: $104.4 million; option: up to $174.7 million.
Work will cover a full range of services, from concept and design to deployment and management of unmanned systems, operating both above the surface and below.
As the military shifts its focus to the Pacific region, at-sea operations will likely become more common, and a focus on countering mines and other explosives is a logical step. Mines are inexpensive and easy to make, and they can do a lot of damage—since World War II, they have sunk more ships than any other type of weapon. China, which has been flexing its muscles in the South China Sea, reportedly has been building up its supply of mines since the 1990s and Russia has the world’s largest arsenal.
The Navy has been developing a number of unmanned underwater vehicles, or UUVs, that can search for mines and performs other tasks, including General Dynamics’ Knifefish, which is a heavyweight vessel that can search for mines resting on the seafloor and buried in high-clutter environments. In April, the Navy also took delivery of two mine-hunting UUVs from Bluefin Robotics. And researchers have been testing Boston Engineering’s GhostSwimmer, which looks and swims like a fish, thereby keeping quiet while on the job.