Northrop Grumman Unveils Prototype Of Manta Ray Uncrewed Underwater Vehicle | Aviation

Manta Ray.jpg

The first image of the full-size prototype of Manta Ray, a new class of uncrewed underwater vehicle, is assembled in Northrop Grumman’s Annapolis facility. (Photo Credit: Northrop Grumman)

The new class of Uncrewed Underwater Vehicles takes its name by the large “winged” fish that frequents the tropical waters.

On Apr. 8, 2024, Northrop Grumman Corporation released on line the first image of a full-size uncrewed underwater vehicle (UUV) prototype known as Manta Ray. According to Northrop, Manta Ray is new class of UUV, “an extra-large glider that will operate long-duration, long-range and payload-capable undersea missions without need for on-site human logistics.”

For the moment, the aerospace and defense company has released just a photograph of the prototype, with the tail section of the vehicle in the darkness, to hide some interesting details (more or less the same approach Northrop Grumman and the U.S. Air Force had with the much-awaited B-21 Raider bomber).

Manta Ray was built through a Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program aimed at advancing key technologies to benefit future UUV designs, including techniques to manage energy, increased payload capacity, low-power propulsion and more.

In 2021, Northrop Grumman was awarded a Phase 2 contract to continue the Manta Ray program that began in 2020.  As part of Phase 2, the two prime contractors, Northrop Grumman Systems Corporation and Martin Defense Group, would each develop unique full-scale demonstration vehicles.

Unmanned Undersea Vehicles

According to an article by Dr. Kyle Woerner, Program Manager of the TTO (Tactical Technology Office)  the Manta Ray program page on the DARPA website:

“Unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs) that operate for extended durations without the need for human-present logistic support or maintenance offer the potential for persistent operations in forward environments. Such systems could allow traditional host vessels increased freedom of…”

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