An internal Department of Defense (DoD) study has found that investing in extra-large unmanned underwater vehicles (XLUUVs) will help the U.S. Navy deploy large manned submarines for more complex operations, Defense News reported Monday.
The report, led by Defense Secretary and 2020 Wash100 Award recipient Mark Esper’s office, recommends the Navy to earmark funding for up to 50 XLUUVs in addition to a maximum of three attack submarines for the service branch’s fleet of 2045.
Other recommendations highlighted in the study include funding for next-generation unmanned vessels that will serve as part of the Navy's potential 355-ship fleet.
“I think once we go through this process with the future fleet — that’ll really be the new foundation, the guiding post,” said Esper. “It’ll give us the general direction we need to go, and I think that’ll be a big game changer in terms of future fleet, for structure, for the Navy and Marine Corps team.”
Previously, the service issued a $43 million award to Boeing for the production of Orca XLUUVs. A 2020 Cogress report states that the Navy intends to begin procurement by 2023.