US Navy Successfully Conducts Trial for New ‘Manta Ray’ Submarine

An advanced autonomous underwater vehicle, codenamed “Manta Ray,” that can remain below for long periods of time without replenishing its fuel supply has been tested and approved by the United States Navy.

Testing was carried out in February and March off the coast of Southern California to demonstrate the full-scale abilities of the Northrop Grumman-created Manta Ray prototype.

Kyle Woerner, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) program manager for Manta Ray, praised the testing as a significant step in confirming the vehicle’s readiness for operations.

Woerner said that the capacity to transport modules across the country, assemble them on the field, and then deploy them was a first for large Unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs).

The Manta Ray effectively travels in water using buoyancy-driven gliding and other novel tactics. As described in a DARPA press release, its operating adaptability is further enhanced by its capacity to attach itself to the seabed and enter low-power sleep mode.

The creation of the UUV is part of a larger effort by the Navy to enhance the capabilities of its underwater drones for longer missions. Throughout the testing, the Navy’s strategic goal was to thwart innovations by international competitors, namely China and Russia.

Russia’s Poseidon drones have remarkable speed and range.

A massive torpedo-shaped drone, the Poseidon may reach a weight of up to 100 tons, has a diameter of 2 yards, and is around 20 meters in length. It has an operating range of 6,200 miles or more, can reach speeds of up to 100 knots, and is fueled by a nuclear reactor.

The growing rivalry in undersea warfare is highlighted by the Russian navy’s intentions to purchase around thirty Poseidon drones. Many in the military industry are worried about Poseidon because of its alleged nuclear propellant system and cargo capacity.

Several nations, including Russia,d Australia, Ukraine, and the UK, are funding underwater drone research and development.