Surrogate LDUUV submerged in water in preparation for a test to demonstrate the capability of the Navy’s Common Control System (CCS) at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Keyport in Puget Sound, Wash. in December 2015.

The U.S. Navy recently released a request for proposals (RFP) for its Snakehead Large Displacement Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (LDUUV) Phase 2 program.

The RFP covers design, development, and fabrication of two Snakehead prototypes. The government plans to competitively award a contract to a single vendor for fabrication of two prototype vehicles in fiscal year (FY) 2021. Proposals are expected in early 2021.

Snakehead is a long-endurance, multi-mission UUV, deployed from submarine large open interfaces, with the capability to deploy reconfigurable payloads. It is the largest UUV intended for hosting and deployment from submarines, and has been designated a Maritime Accelerated Acquisition. It is able to be recovered and stored on littoral combat ships, Virginia-class submarines, and Ohio-class submarines.

U.S. Navy Issues RFP for Submarine-Launched Undersea Drone

A slide from a briefing by Captain Pete Small, Program Manager, Unmanned Maritime Systems during SNA 2019.

Naval Sea Systems Command (NAVSEA) has three phases planned for the Snakehead LDUUV program. Phase 1 focuses on Concept of Operations (CONOPS) and Initial Preparation of Environment (IPOE) development, along with preliminary Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) capacity. The service is already in fabrication on its Phase 1 LDUUV, which will deliver next year to begin test and evaluation activities.

Phase 2 will expand the range of the Phase 1 IPOE and increase ISR capabilities. The vehicles delivered under this Phase 2 LDUUV contract will achieve full integration with submarines equipped with Modernized Dry Deck Shelter (DDS) and Payload Handling System (PHS). Initial vehicles will be designed to support IPOE missions. Future vehicle missions may include deployment of various payloads.

The Snakehead INC 1 Phase will explore payload integration, electronic warfare, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, and Mine Integration Warfare (MIW).

USNI News previously reported that UUV Squadron One (UUVRON-1) has been working with two prototypes from the Penn State Applied Research Lab that are a representative size of the LDUUVs, allowing the UUVRON to work out the launch and recovery procedures even while Phase 1 is still in fabrication. By the time the Phase 2 prototypes deliver following this competition, UUVRON will be ready to accept and begin using the vehicles.