FAIRFAX, Va.-General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems in Fairfax, Va., has completed the critical design review for the Knifefish surface-mine countermeasure unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV), and is beginning to develop the UUV's hardware and software.
In April, the Knifefish UUV, which will be part of the U.S. Navy Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) mine countermeasures mission package in 2017, formally entered into full-scale development after completing a critical design review in January that included significant risk-reduction measures.
Knifefish is a specialized Bluefin-21 UUV from Bluefin Robotics Corp. in Quincy, Mass., that is being developed for the SMCM UUV program for which Bluefin is under subcontract to General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems.
Bluefin completed the Knifefish Preliminary Design Review earlier this year. The Knifefish will hunt for buried mines and mines in a high-clutter environment using a low-frequency broadband synthetic aperture sonar. Knifefish will launch from the LCS, search for and map mines and then return to the ship with its data.
The General Dynamics Knifefish team includes Bluefin Robotics; Ultra Electronic Ocean Systems in Braintree, Mass.; Oceaneering International Inc. in Houston; Metron in Reston, Va.; Applied Research Laboratory at Penn State University in State College, Pa.; 3 Phoenix in Hanover, Md.; General Dynamics Information Technology in Fairfax, Va.; and ASRC Research Technology Solutions in Greenbelt, Md.
The General Dynamics full-scale development phase, which the military calls engineering and manufacturing development (EMD), will involve building three engineering development modules.
Expected to attain initial operational capability in 2017, Knifefish is a heavyweight mine countermeasure (MCM) UUV that will detect and classify mines resting on the seafloor and buried mines in high-clutter environments and areas with potential for mine burial.
Knifefish also gathers environmental data to provide intelligence support for other mine warfare systems. The UUV will operate in minefields as an off-board sensor, while the host ship stays at a safe distance.
The Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) awarded General Dynamics a contract to design and build Knifefish in September 2011.