General Dynamics Mission Systems recently delivered the first Knifefish surface mine countermeasure unmanned underwater vehicle (SMCM UUV) system under a contract awarded by the Navy on Aug. 26, 2019, GDMS announced with a press release. The contract, awarded immediately after a successful Milestone C decision and approval to enter low-rate initial production (LRIP), calls for the procurement of five Knifefish systems (10 total UUVs) and support equipment.
The SMCM is a medium-class mine countermeasure UUV intended for deployment from the Navy’s littoral combat ship and other Navy vessels of opportunity. Knifefish SMCM will reduce risk to personnel by operating within minefields as an off-board sensor while the host ship stays outside the minefield boundaries.
“Together with the U. S. Navy’s Program Executive Office for Unmanned and Small Combatants, our Knifefish team has worked to deliver critical mine countermeasure mission capabilities to protect our Sailors,” said Carlo Zaffanella, vice president and general manager at General Dynamics Mission Systems. “We designed Knifefish using an open architecture concept that can be quickly and efficiently modified to accommodate a wide range of missions.”
General Dynamics Mission Systems is the prime contractor for the Knifefish program. The company designed the tactical UUV using an open architecture concept that can be quickly and efficiently modified to accommodate a wide range of missions. The Knifefish SMCM UUV is based on the General Dynamics Bluefin Robotics Bluefin®-21 deep-water autonomous undersea vehicle.
Naval Post Comment: Unmanned systems provide navies to perform risky missions without human loss. Minehunting is one of the most risky missions for a navy. Along with developed technology, we will see more unmanned systems to be used in such missions.
The Knifefish system, which consists of two unmanned undersea vehicles along with support systems and equipment, uses cutting-edge low-frequency broadband sonar and automated target recognition software technology developed by the Naval Research Laboratory and successfully transitioned to industry. It acts as an off-board sensor while the host ship stays outside the minefield boundaries.
The Knifefish is 16.2 feet long, 21 inches in diameter, and weighs 1,650 pounds. The unmanned undersea vehicle can operate to depths to 14,763 feet, and can operate for as long as 25 hours between battery recharges. It is powered by a lithium-ion battery, which allows it to operate for up to 16 hours on pre-programmed search missions.
The UUV has an integrated GPS, radio-frequency, Iridium, and strobe antenna, and communicates with operators via radio frequency links, Iridium satellite communications, and acoustic communications systems.