New Torpedo Tube-launched Drones Will Turn U.S. Attack Sub Fleet into ‘UUV Motherships’

The torpedo-sized Razorback — designed to extend the awareness of a submarine— has been in testing on the Navy’s attack boats for more than a year.

While the outer lines of the UUVs will be the same, the payloads and sensors on the EOD and attack boat UUVs will be very different and tailored to the individual missions, USNI News understands.

The planned Viperfish variant will replace the MK-18 Mod 2 Kingfish mine countermeasures UUV to search for underwater mines, Moton said.

“The new UUV capabilities will allow the EOD force to conduct longer duration missions, cover more ocean area and do so faster, which enables the vehicles to get into deeper waters and improves the overall effectiveness of MCM operations in austere environments,” Moton said.

For attack boats, “the team will leverage the work done for the existing Razorbacks UUVs, which were designed to operate from a dry deck shelter or from a craft of opportunity. The new Razorback vehicle will be fully integrated and to accomplish this feat, torpedo tube launch and recovery capability will be integrated into the Razorback UUV,” Moton said.
“When this … capability is deployed, every SSN will have the ability to serve as a UUV mothership.”

The promise of MUUVs is to act as sensors for attack submarines to expand what they can detect underwater. While battery life has improved, the MUUVs are still limited in how long they can operate without recharging and the ability to take the UUV aboard a submarine for charging and maintenance is key to the practical operation of the system.

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