US Navy-Textron Systems CRADO Agreement Explores New CUSV Capabilities
Monch US correspondent Marty Kauchak is attending the 2018 Surface Navy Association 30th Annual National Symposium in Arlington, Virginia. He files this end-of-day report with highlights from the exhibition floor and conference rooms.
The US Navy-Textron Systems team is taking the Hunt Valley, Maryland-based company’s Common Unmanned Surface Vessel (CUSV) to its next plateau of employment in the maritime domain. Wayne Prender, Vice President of Control and Surface Systems at Textron Systems, Unmanned Systems, told MONS that his company continues on its primary CUSV contract, the Unmanned Influence Sweep System (UISS) programme: “That’s a mine sweeping programme. But earlier this year we were also awarded a production contract and an integration contract for the mine hunting mission – so now we are doing mine sweeping and mine hunting.”
The service-industry team is moving the CUSV beyond the mine countermeasure mission, to realise its common vision for the vessel to be, “a utility systemme, a kind of ‘pickup truck on the sea’.” To pursue new CUSV capabilities the two entities entered into a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement (CRADA). “This will allow us to explore new surface warfare packages [weapons payloads] which can be integrated into the CUSV,” he added.
The genesis of using CUSV for more missions occurred during a recent US Navy ANTX (Advanced Navy Technology Exercise). Mr. Prender recalled: “We did some early conceptual development of what this would look like and explored the art of the possible. The result of that was positive feedback from senior Navy leadership regarding using CUSV for new missions such as this.”
During the remainder of this year, Textron is expected to begin integration of mutually agreed upon targeted payloads which the service and supplier think will have utility.
Asked what weapons will be integrated and tested onboard CUSV during the CRADA, the sector expert, responded: “I don’t want to disclose the payloads that we are looking at right now. We’ll refine that plan with the Navy. When it suits everybody we’ll release that information. What I can tell you, is we are looking at autonomous weapons systems, direct fire and indirect fire – a large variety.”
Textron remains on contract to deliver three CUSVs – a quantity certain to increase if new missions are assigned to the vessel.