The US Navy has asked Lockheed Martin and five other shipbuilding companies to develop concepts for the service’s future large unmanned surface vessel (LUSV).
The vessel must be able to support the navy’s existing manned fleet on various maritime missions.
The craft should also be able to carry up to 40 tons of personnel and cargo and integrate advanced sensors and high-powered weapons.
The US Navy requires the LUSV to be able to operate in harsh sea conditions with waves up to 13 feet (4 meters), operating for up to 90 days without a human crew.
In addition to Lockheed Martin ($11.3 million), Huntington Ingalls ($13.1 million), Marinette Marine ($10.2 million), Austal ($9.1 million), Gibbs & Cox ($9 million), and Bollinger Shipyards ($9.4 million) have also been retained for the LUSV project.
Once the concepts are formulated and approved, the winning vendor will proceed to the first stages of development, employing crucial technologies developed under the Sea Hunter project.
The prototype is expected to be 200 to 300 feet long, or a third the size of future US Navy frigates.
It must also generate as much as 75 kilowatts of power to support its electronic payloads.
Upon deployment, the LUSV will be utilized alongside US Navy amphibious assault ships to move personnel and supplies quickly, at lower cost and less risk.
The drone ship could also carry electronic warfare, anti-surface warfare, and land-strike warfare payloads.
All six companies involved in the conceptualization phase will have until September 2024 to submit their LUSV concepts.