Textron Systems Advanced Systems, an operating unit of Textron Systems, a Textron Inc. company, announced today that its second Fleet-class Common Unmanned Surface Vessel (CUSV) completed a successful in-water demonstration last week in New Orleans following vessel modifications at the Textron Marine & Land Systems (TM&LS) shipyard.
The two Textron Systems operating units recently collaborated on vessel performance enhancements and are preparing to participate in additional capabilities demonstrations for the United States Navy. The team also is pursuing vessel contracts with the U.S. Navy, international navies and other government agencies in the U.S. and overseas.
“The demonstration showed these recent vessel modifications enhance CUSV’s already robust capabilities,” explains Don Hairston, Textron Systems Advanced Systems senior vice president and general manager. “It’s smart business to take full advantage of TM&LS’ ship-building knowledge and maritime vessel experience as we move toward production of this important unmanned system.”
According to Hairston, if CUSV contracts are awarded to Textron Systems, TM&LS’ 300,000-square-foot shipyard in New Orleans will be the site for low-rate initial vessel production. TM&LS would manufacture CUSV hulls, as well as outfit the vessel with engines, drive trains and certain other components.
This project would leverage TM&LS’ extensive shipbuilding heritage and capabilities. This is the same shipyard where, in recent decades, Landing Craft, Air Cushion (LCAC) amphibious craft were manufactured for the U.S. Navy and Japan Defense Agency, along with Motor Lifeboats currently in use by the U.S. Coast Guard, Mexican Navy and other countries for a variety of coastal missions. Building on its LCAC program, TM&LS and its program partners submitted their entry for the Navy’s next generation air cushion vehicle, the Ship-to-Shore Connector. An award decision on that program is expected later this year.
“We have a very strong background in marine architecture and engineering and manufacturing aluminum vessels that deliver value in a variety of military and humanitarian roles,” says Tom Walmsley, Textron Marine & Land Systems senior vice president and general manager. “We’re excited to add CUSV, an advanced unmanned vessel that delivers key capabilities in critical mission areas, to our marine manufacturing portfolio.”
Textron Systems’ CUSV will participate in the U.S. Navy Fleet Forces Command’s Trident Warrior 2012 experiment, July 9 – 20 in San Diego. During this event, the CUSV team will execute a mine warfare “detect-to-engage” scenario during which multiple CUSVs, controlled from a single control station, will detect and prosecute an exercise mine. Trident Warrior supports the Navy’s fleet experimentation program, where participants demonstrate maritime vessels and technologies in an operational environment to improve available fleet capabilities. CUSV took part in Trident Warrior 2011, where it successfully demonstrated sliding autonomy, enabling autonomous and man-in-the-loop vessel operations.
Designed with a reconfigurable payload bay, CUSV users have the freedom to quickly deploy any payloads necessary to satisfy mission requirements including towing, mine countermeasures, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, communications relay, launch and recovery for unmanned aircraft and underwater systems, and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
Naval Today Staff, April 18, 2012; Image: aaicorp