November 27, 2022

KEY POINTS

  • XLUUVs are designed to conduct offensive missions together with mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare, and anti-surface warfare
  • The Navy’s strategic plans exhibit that XLUUVs will possible serve a key position sooner or later fleet
  • U.S. Navy is trying to deploy 5 XLUUVs however on account of delays will solely be  delivered between February and June 2024

At a time when China is quickly advancing its naval capabilities, together with submarine drones, delays and value overruns proceed to plague the Navy’s plans to deploy the Orca Further Massive Unmanned Undersea Automobile (XLUUV), a report launched by the U.S. Authorities Accountability Workplace (GAO) has discovered.

The U.S. Navy has been trying to quickly deploy 5 XLUUVs to its fleet for endeavor harmful duties like laying undersea mines, nonetheless, its efforts are going through a price range overrun of a minimum of $242 million or 64 p.c over its authentic value estimate and a delay of a minimum of three years, in keeping with the U.S. GAO report launched Wednesday.

In keeping with the report, the unique value of the undertaking was $379 million, which has now escalated to $621 million with $504 million already spent.

In Might, the US Navy’s Naval Sea Programs Command unveiled its first-ever Orca XLUUV constructed by Boeing as a part of a undertaking to provide 5 such autos. Based mostly on Boeing’s 51-foot Echo Voyager, the Orca is designed to conduct offensive missions, together with mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface warfare, digital warfare and strike missions.

The GAO report says Boeing had initially deliberate to ship the primary car in December 2020 and all 5 autos by the tip of 2022. Nevertheless, the dates have now been revised and all 5 submarine drones are solely anticipated to be delivered between February and June 2024.

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Contemplating that the XLUUV is a analysis and improvement effort, the GAO report blames the Navy for not growing “a sound enterprise case, together with value and schedule estimates,” to make sure that it may ship the autos shortly to the fleet.

The Navy’s strategic plans exhibit that XLUUVs will possible serve a key position sooner or later fleet; therefore, though the robotic subs are a prototype effort that’s within the early phases of improvement, it considers the submarine drones as vital for fulfilling an emergent want.

On condition that the Navy sees these robotic subs as a technique to fulfill an pressing want, underneath Division of Protection (DOD) coverage, it means guaranteeing {that a} resolution is delivered inside a two-year timeframe.

Nevertheless, the Navy did not require the contractor to exhibit that it was able to construct the subs throughout the deliberate value and schedule therefore, seven years later, the Navy nonetheless does not have subs that meet its necessities, the GAO discovering says.

The report factors out that with out extra full value and schedule estimates, the Navy doesn’t have the data it wants for decision-making and due to this fact will proceed experiencing value overruns and schedule delays because it builds the XLUUV.

In the meantime, as reported earlier, China could also be making ready to deploy its personal large new unmanned submarines with a satellite tv for pc picture exhibiting two Further Massive Unmanned Undersea Automobiles (XLUUV) on the Sanya Naval Base aka the Yulin Naval Base positioned in Sanya on Hainan Island, which is China’s strategically vital naval base within the contested South China Sea.

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Representational Picture
AFP / Mladen ANTONOV