Unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) research pulls into the fast lane, led by ONR contracts

THE MIL & AERO VIDEO BLOG, 4 June 2012. The U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) in Arlington, Va., is leading the charge to develop a new generation of large, long-endurance unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) for conducing intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) missions of hostile coastlines and harbors, as John Keller reports this week in the Mil & Aero video blog.

Transcript of video

This is the Military & Aerospace Electronics Report. I'm John Keller.

There's suddenly a lot of exciting work going on in unmanned underwater vehicles, or UUVs for short. One of the most influential research organizations pushing UUV technology forward is the Office of Naval Research, or ONR, in Arlington, Va.

Just last month ONR scientists revealed an $18 million contract with Lynntech Inc. in College Station, Texas, to develop a prototype propulsion and power system for a future long-endurance UUV.

The U.S. Navy is keen on developing these kinds of long-endurance UUVs for covert reconnaissance of shipping activity in potentially hostile coastal waters and harbors. While today's UUV technology could conduct these kinds of secret undersea spy missions for a couple of days, the Navy is pushing industry to develop unmanned submersibles that could operate autonomously in enemy waters for weeks -- maybe even months.

Now to do that, there's no known battery technology that could power a long-endurance UUV reliably. So, it's up to scientists at Lynntech, and others like them, to come up with undersea power and propulsion technology that's stealthy, reliable, and works for a very long time.

One of the areas that Lynntech researchers are looking at is long-endurance hydride peroxide fuel cell UUV energy system, which is sort of like an alkaline fuel cell, and is fueled by sodium or potassium borohydride, with hydrogen peroxide.

The good news here is this a hydride peroxide fuel cell might operate longer and less expensively than traditional fuel cell technology. The bad news is this approach can produce hydrogen as a byproduct, and if you've seen those old newsreels of the Hindenburg Disaster, well, you know how dangerously explosive that can be.

This isn't the only long-endurance UUV power and propulsion technology that ONR is working on. One of the marquee unmanned submersible programs ONR has in the pipeline is the Large Displacement Unmanned Underwater Vehicle, or LDUUV program. Now this project aims to develop a large unmanned submarine that operate in the open ocean and in coastal waters and harbors on missions lasting more than 70 days.

A little more than a month ago, ONR awarded a $5.9 million, three-year research contract to Hydroid Inc. in Pocasset, Massachusetts, to develop an autonomy testing system for the LDUUV Innovative Naval Prototype Technology program to develop machine autonomy and long-endurance propulsion systems for future large UUVs.

So the technology necessary to build large, long-endurance UUVs isn't here yet, but ONR is setting the table for these new kinds of unmanned underwater systems we might see fielded perhaps before the end of this decade.

There's plenty going on in traditional UUV technology, too. In April the Navy and General Dynamics introduced a quarter-scale model of the Surface Mine Countermeasure Unmanned Undersea Vehicle named "Knifefish," at the Navy League show in Washington. The future Knifefish is to be a heavyweight minehunting UUV for the of the Littoral Combat Ship Mine Countermeasures Mission Package.

In February the Navy awarded a contract to the Lockheed Martin Maritime Systems & Sensors (MS2) segment in Syracuse, N.Y., and its partner Atlas Elektronik GmbH in Bremen, Germany, for the Shipboard Mine Neutralization System-Seafox (SMNS-SF), which uses sonar and video sensors to detect, locate, and destroy enemy sea mines.

And just last week, UUV maker Bluefin Robotics in Quincy, Massachusetts, got a contract from a pretty famous undersea survey company named Phoenix International Holdings Inc. in Largo, Md., for one of the company's Bluefin-21 deep-dive UAVs.

If you don't know Phoenix International by its name, you might know the company for one of its most notable feats. This is the company that found the black boxes of from Air France 447, the widebody passenger jet that crashed into the Atlantic Ocean three years ago, killing all 228 aboard. The black boxes were located about twelve thousand feet beneath the Atlantic.

With an endorsement like that, we can be sure that Bluefin Robotics is going places. We can say the same about UUV technology in general.

For the Military & Aerospace Electronics Report, I'm John Keller.

Get All the Military Aerospace Electronics News Delivered to Your Inbox or Your Mailbox

Subscribe to Military Aerospace Electronics Magazine or email newsletter today at no cost and receive the latest information on:

  • C4ISR
  • Cyber Security
  • Embedded Computing
  • Unmanned Vehicles

Military & Aerospace Photos

Most Popular Articles

Related Products

Custom and OEM Camera Design

We provide custom designs for both modifications to existing systems and development of new produ...

Hybrid Micro-D Connectors

Omnetics high reliability Micro-D connectors are available withmixed power/signal contact layouts...

Micro-D Connectors

Highly rugged and compact designs in shell styles from 9 to 51 contacts. The Micro-D connectors i...

Omnetics Nano-D Bi-Lobe® Latching Connectors

Bi-Lobe® connectors utilize rugged and reliable flex pin contact system. Spaced on 25 mil (.64mm)...

Nano-D Bi-Lobes® Connectors Dual Row Horizontal SMT (Type AA)

Horizontal SMT Bi-Lobe® nanos offer an extremely low profile package that is well suited to pick ...

Latching Micro-D Connectors

Omnetics high reliability Micro-D connectors are available with Quick Latch System. For applicati...

Nano-D BiLobe® Connectors -(COTS)

Sizes are 9, 15, 21, 25, 31, 37 , 51 & 65 pin, at .025 Mil. Pitch(Currently Available), mating pi...

XPedite7575 | 5th Generation Intel® Core™ i7 Broadwell-H Processor-Based Conduction- or Air-Cooled 3U VPX-REDI Module

The XPedite7575 is a high-performance, 3U VPX-REDI, single board computer based on the 5th genera...

XTend7103 | COM Express® Carrier for COM Express® Type 10 Mezzanine Modules

The XTend7103 is a COM Express® carrier card designed to provide a low-cost and compact platform ...

XPort6173 | 3U VPX Carrier for Two 2.5 in. Solid-State Drives (SSDs)

The XPort6173 supports two, standard, 2.5 in. Solid-State Drives (SSDs) in a single 0.8 in. or 1....

Related Companies

Interface Displays & Controls Inc

Certified ISO-9001/AS9100, veteran-owned, small business. Interface specializes in designing, reverse-engineering and...

Southwest Antennas

Designs and manufactures high-performance RF and Microwave antennas and accessories designed for today’s communicatio...

Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions

About Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions Curtiss-Wright Defense Solutions (CWDS) is a long established techno...

United Electronic Industries Inc

UEI is a leader in the PC/Ethernet data acquisition and control, Data Logger/Recorder and Programmable Automation Con...

GE Aviation Systems

Designs and manufactures high reliability microelectronics for aerospace and military applications. Thick film hybrid...

Astronics Ballard Technology

Manufactures avionics databus interfaces, embedded computers, and software for aerospace, military and commercial use...


Manufactures a large range of underwater electrical and fiber optic connectors. In business for 45 years.

Henniker Plasma

Plasma Treatment Equipment - Plasma Cleaners, Plasma Etchers, Plasma Coating & Plasma Surface ModificationWe are the ...

Fabritech Inc

Fabritech was established in 1986 and specializes in the fabrication of EMI, RFI, and thermal shielded products made ...

SHENMAO America Inc

Provides quality performance solder materials including: SMT assembly, lead free and tin lead solder paste, cored sol...


Harsh Environment Protection for Advanced Electronics and Components

This webinar will offer an opportunity to learn more about ultra-thin Parylene conformal coatings – how they are applied, applications they protect today, and the properties and benefits they offer, includin...

New Design Tools That Help You Develop Radar That Sees the Un-seeable and Detects the Undetectable

Xilinx EW/ISR System Architect, Luke Miller, has new tricks and he’s going to tell you all about them in a new Xilinx Webinar—for free. His Webinar will cover new ways to implement Radar functions including ...
Sponsored by:

Press Releases


Curtiss-Wright Corporation today announced that its Defense Solutions division has received a contract from Sierra Nevada Corporation (SNC) to supply its small form factor ...

Innovative Integration Announces the FMC-Servo

Camarillo, CA June 19, 2015, Innovative Integration, a trusted supplier of signal processing and data acquisition hardware and software solutions, today announced the FMC-S...


Curtiss-Wright Corporation today announced that its Defense Solutions division has further enhanced its innovative VRD1 high definition (HD) video management system (VMS) w...

All Access Sponsors

Mil & Aero Magazine

August 2015
Volume 26, Issue 8

Download Our Apps




Follow Us On...


Military & Aerospace Electronics

Weekly newsletter covering technical content, breaking news and product information

Cyber Security

Monthly newsletter covering cyber warfare, cyber security, information warfare, and information security technologies, products, contracts, and procurement opportunities

Defense Executive

Monthly newsletter covering business news and strategic insights for executive managers

Electronic Warfare

Quarterly newsletter covering technologies and applications in electronic warfare, cyber warfare, optical warfare, and spectrum warfare.

Embedded Computing Report

Monthly newsletter covering news on embedded computing in aerospace, defense and industrial-rugged applications

Unmanned Vehicles

Monthly newsletter covering news updates for designers of unmanned vehicles