DARPA, Northrop Grumman Unveil Manta Ray Drone, Boosting US Naval Power

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) recently announced the successful completion of tests for a new prototype of an underwater drone that could revolutionize sea warfare.

The prototype, named Manta Ray due to its shape, is being developed by DARPA and Northrop Grumman, a Maryland-based company. The uncrewed underwater vehicle underwent full-scale testing off the coast of Southern California and exhibited strong hydrodynamic performance, showcasing its various modes of propulsion and steering, including buoyancy, propellers, and control surfaces.

One advantage of the Manta Ray is that it was built in Maryland and then shipped in subsections to the testing area in California. This method of transportation conserves energy, allowing the vehicle to be quickly assembled in the field and deployed for naval missions.

Dr. Kyle Woerner, DARPA’s project manager for Manta Ray, highlighted the vehicle’s efficient, buoyancy-driven gliding through the water and its capability to accommodate various types of naval missions with its multiple payload bays.

Northrop Grumman, which has been pioneering undersea capabilities for over 50 years, described the Manta Ray as a new unmanned underwater vehicle designed for long-duration, long-range missions in ocean environments without the need for on-site human logistics support, an essential attribute for addressing the complex nature of undersea warfare.

While there was no specific timeline for deployment of Manta Ray units by the U.S. military, DARPA was collaborating with the U.S. Navy to determine the next steps for the project.

The successful testing of the Manta Ray prototype represents a significant achievement in the development of advanced maritime technology that could enhance the U.S. military’s capabilities in naval operations.

Written by Staff Reports

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