A division of Textron Systems has won a $33.8 million Navy contract for an unmanned surface vehicle designed to sweep for acoustic and magnetic mines from the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), company officials told USNI News last week.
The Unmanned Influence Sweep System (UISS previously known as the unmanned surface sweep system or USSS) is planned for the Mine Countermeasure (MCM) mission package planned for the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS).
The USV is designed to methodically sweep a patch of ocean towing a cable designed to trigger so-called influence mines — mines that activate when they detect sounds or magnetic signatures that correspond to those of a large ship.
“It’s a cable that you tow behind the USV,” Rear Adm. John Ailes, former program manager for LCS Mission Modules, told USNI News in 2013.
“It provided both acoustic — making noise like a ship — and the magnetic signature of a ship… It tells the mines, ‘I’m a ship, you should blow up’.”
UISS is based on Textron Systems Unmanned Systems’ Common Unmanned Surface Vessel (CUSV) the company has been testing for years, Bill Leonard of Textron Systems Unmanned Systems told USNI News.
“We started doing all of our lessons learned and came up with a fourth generation of our CUSV,” Leonard said.
“We made improvements to the hull form, we made the payload bay larger. Got a new propulsion system and just various other improvements that we’ve learned over the five or six years we’ve been doing this and that translate over to the Navy program.”
Textron now has two years to finalize the development of the UISS before a 2017 test of the MCM package.
The contract has a potential value of $118 million, according to a Sept. 30 Pentagon contract award under the Textron unit’s old name, AAI Corp.
UISS is planned for the third increment of the MCM package.
The first increment of the MCM package — designed to find and neutralize less complex but more plentiful contact mines — is slated to be tested onboard USS Independence (LCS-2) next year.