Marine

Boeing wins US$43 million contract to build four Orca robotic super subs

The Orca is based on Boeing's Echo Voyager robotic sub
The Orca is based on Boeing's Echo Voyager robotic sub
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The Orca requires no support ships
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The Orca requires no support ships
The Orca is based on Boeing's Echo Voyager robotic sub
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The Orca is based on Boeing's Echo Voyager robotic sub
The Orca can operate for months underwater
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The Orca can operate for months underwater
The Orca is fully autonomous
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The Orca is fully autonomous

The US Navy has awarded Boeing a US$43 million contract to build four of its Orca Extra Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (XLUUVs) and support gear. Built in partnership with Huntington Ingalls Industries, the 51-ft (15.5 m) long unmanned submarines will operate in blue water environments thanks to autonomous navigation systems and a fuel module providing a range of 6,500 nm (7,480 mi / 12,038 km).

Unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) have been around for come time and are becoming increasingly common in naval and civilian marine operations, but so far they have been small, short range, and restricted to their host vessels. Blue water underwater operations have been the reserve of large, manned submarines, but the purchase of the Orca indicates that the US Navy recognizes the growing importance of robotic submarines to the fleet.

Derived from Boeing's Echo Voyager, the Orca is diesel-electric powered and can be used for mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, electronic warfare and strike missions, among other applications. It has an open architecture, modular construction that includes a payload bay 34 ft (10.4 m) long with a volume of 2,000 cubic ft (56.6 cubic m).

The Orca is fully autonomous
The Orca is fully autonomous

The Orca requires no other ship to launch, recover, or support it due to its extensive autonomous systems. Being unmanned also means it requires no life support systems, and it can remain submerged for months at a time.

Source: US Department of Defense via USNI

9 comments
anthony88
Cheap, stealthy, versatile, uncrewed - the future of submarine warfare. Meanwhile, in Australia...
Robert Schreib
?? Could this same level of submarine technology be used to create a floating 'island', equipped with windmills and solar panels, that serves as a docking base for a lot of SMALL robot submarines, which are designed to find, grab up, and deposit all of the free floating plastic junk in the oceans, inside of that 'island' where it could be re-processed into fuel or some type of building material? Park it next to the great Pacific Garbage Gyre, and let it gradually eat all of that plastic, to finally clean our oceans?
christopher
@Robert Schreib - no, this is a weapon for killing people.
roger90
Diesel Electric is a severe limit. That means charging batteries and a diesel on surface with a noisy diesel running is an easy target.
BrianK56
Should have made it look like a real Orka whale
Douglas Bennett Rogers
Diesel electric sounds like a lab exercise at this point. A slew of small modular reactors are coming online that would be ideal for this.
EZ
It's absolutely amazing! The amount of tax dollars that get wasted in order to give the "Elite" more money. This BS is going to bankrupt this country. What the is our Congress doing?? Are they actually in control of this nonsense?
owlbeyou
Houston, we've got a problem. Russia just released news on an autonomous nuclear-capable UUV drone named Poseidon. It's powered by a mini nuclear reactor (diesel needs oxygen to work and is noisier and needs refueling) which means it's quiet and stealthy. Once released from its submarine mothership, it can lurk around for long distances in the deep for extended periods waiting for deployment. This new tit-for-tat cold war business is troubling, costly and risky. Boeing and other big corps are cashing in on this development, but the potential of something going wrong is being increased exponentially. Once again, we are living in dangerous times where a hair-trigger reaction can become a huge instant dilemma. We need to step back and stop the madness.
bwklast1
Well, it looks like Boeing will be able to reuse a few 737 max 8 and 9s after all :)
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