Unmanned undersea vehicle, Knifefish, can spot underground and hidden mines
A new unmanned undersea vehicle is one step closer to becoming reality after General Dynamics Mission Systems celebrated the opening of a new manufacturing and assembly facility in Taunton, Mass., on Aug. 13.
The vehicles – dubbed Knifefish unmanned undersea vehicles (UUV) – were previously being manufactured in Quincy, Mass., but production was moved to Taunton after the project needed more space. General Dynamics, which has been a U.S. Army contractor since 1987, is now focused on putting the vehicles through a low-rate initial production and held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Aug. 13 to commemorate the opening of the Taunton manufacturing site.
Carlo Zaffanella, vice president and general manager of the GDMS Maritime and Strategic Systems business, said at the ceremony that the new site is part of $30 million the company has invested in the project.
“We strongly believe that the era of maritime autonomy is very much upon us,” Zaffanella said, as reported by Defense News. “The ability to make systems that are unmanned, that can do things that manned vessels cannot, can take sailors out of harm’s way — that era is here, and the technologies needed to do that, whether they be the engineering inside or the absolutely first-grade manufacturing that is done at a facility like this — all of that now exists.”
The Knifefish UUV will be able to detect, classify and identify mines that are buried underwater, as well as areas of high clutter that could potentially hold mines. The vehicles are also able to quickly integrate with other ship systems and mission modules and can provide intelligence support at a rapid pace.
General Dynamics was awarded the contract to put the vehicles through a low-rate initial production back in 2019. Among the systems being manufactured are two UUV’s, command-and-control gear and launch and recovery equipment.
The facility in Quincy will continue to work on UUV engineering projects and help out with the Knifefish UUV project by building certain subcomponents and conducting final tests.
Zaffanella told reporters the primary focus of the project is to figure out the most efficient way to analyze data while the UUVs are still in the water in order to better analyze potential threats in real time, according to Defense News.
“Clearly, you would like to get to where more of that analysis were possible in real time, or at least as close to real time as you can make it,” Zaffanella said. “If we could get the devices to provide not just essentially a map of what’s out there but perhaps detects or even tracks and say, ‘This is really what you want to be concerned about in real time,’ then the operational utility will go up.”
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