Aerospace & Defence

Manta Ray UUV prototype completes in-water testing

4th May 2024
Harry Fowle

The Manta Ray prototype, an uncrewed underwater vehicle (UUV) developed by Northrop Grumman, successfully completed comprehensive in-water trials off the Southern California coast in February and March 2024.

These tests verified the UUV's hydrodynamic performance at sea, including submerged operations across all of its propulsion and steering modes: buoyancy, propellers, and control surfaces.

The Manta Ray prototype was transported in parts from Maryland, where it was constructed, to the test site in California. The straightforward shipping and assembly process supports the possibility of rapid global deployment without requiring extensive space at naval facilities.

Woerner further explained the operational efficiencies: “Shipping the vehicle directly to its intended area of operation conserves energy that the vehicle would otherwise expend during transit. Once deployed, the vehicle uses efficient, buoyancy-driven gliding to move through the water. The craft is designed with several payload bays of multiple sizes and types to enable a wide variety of naval mission sets.”

Manta Ray aims to pioneer a new class of durable, long-range, payload-capable UUVs designed for continuous operation in dynamic maritime environments. DARPA is coordinating with the U.S. Navy to prepare for the next phases of testing and technology transition.

Meanwhile, a second developer involved in the Manta Ray project, PacMar Technologies, is continuing its tests on a full-scale energy harvesting system throughout 2024.

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