U.S. defense company Northrop Grumman has delivered the first shipset of lightweight wide aperture array (LWWAA) hardware for Block IV of the Virginia-class submarines to the U.S. Navy.
This represents the 19th shipset that the company has supplied for the Virginia submarine program.
According to Northrop Grumman, LWWAA is the only available fiber-optic passive hull mounted sensor array in the market. Every delivered shipset contains six arrays.
“LWWAA gives the Navy a distinctive edge over sensors being used by any other naval force,” said Alan Lytle, vice president, undersea systems, Northrop Grumman Mission Systems. “The early delivery of this first Block IV LWWAA shipset continues a tradition of 114 consecutive early array deliveries by Northrop Grumman Undersea Systems in support of the Virginia Class Submarine program.”
The start of the first Block IV shipments represents the beginning of a series of 10 shipments that will be delivered at a rate of two per year to Huntington Ingalls Industries. Northrop Grumman will provide the acoustic array assemblies as well as all the hardware required to install the arrays on the exterior of the ships.
The $17.6 billion contract for the construction of ten Block IV submarines was awarded in April 2014 to General Dynamics Electric Boat as prime contractor.