The prime’s proposal for DARPA’s next generation unmanned maritime capability project has advanced to the next stage.
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The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) has confirmed it is moving to Phase 2 of the No Manning Required Ship (NOMARS), with Serco’s “Defiant” design selected as the preferred offering.
The program aims to build and demonstrate a new medium unmanned surface vessel (MUSV), capable of performing missions with “unprecedented reliability and availability”, while carrying a heavy payload.
Given the request for a platform never requiring a human on board, including during underway replenishment (UNREP) events, the NOMARS program is open to “novel ship configurations and capabilities”.
NOMARS is also expected to support new approaches for power generation, propulsion, machinery line-up, and control schemes in a bid to ensure continuous functionality throughout a long mission in all weather, temperature, and sea states.
“NOMARS plans to demonstrate a next-generation completely unmanned ship that will enable entirely new concepts of operations,” Gregory Avicola, program manager in DARPA’s Tactical Technology Office, said.
“We will enable methods of deploying and maintaining very large fleets of unmanned surface vessels that can serve as partners, across the globe, for the larger crewed combatants of the US Navy.”
As part of Phase 2 of the program, Serco is expected to finalise ship design, build the ship, and conduct testing activities before a three-month demonstration event at sea.
A number of firms are supporting Serco’s work, including Beier Integrated Systems LLC, Caterpillar, DRS Naval Power Systems Inc, ICE FLOE LLC (dba Nichols Brothers Boat Builders), Metron Inc, Submergence Group LLC, and Thrustmaster of Texas.
Defiant is expected to achieve “ultra-reliability objectives” by integrating distributed hybrid power generation, podded propulsors, and high-capacity batteries.
The platform is also expected to meet DARPA’s “graceful degradation” requirements — allowing individual equipment to fail over time by having enough system-level redundancy to meet full system requirements at speeds of at least 15 knots after one year of deployment.