Knifefish unmanned underwater vehicle conducts minehunting evaluation

By Justin Doubleday / March 20, 2017 at 3:18 PM

General Dynamics and the Navy recently tested the Knifefish unmanned underwater vehicle, a key capability being developed for deployment off Littoral Combat Ships, according to the contractor.

The evaluation involved testing the Knifefish's ability to detect and classify underwater mine objects at a variety of depths, as well as on those seafloor, according to a statement released by General Dynamics on Monday. The Knifefish was originally developed to hunt for mines buried under the seafloor, but the Navy wants to expand the UUV's ability to hunt for mines in more areas of the ocean as part of a recent review of the LCS' mine countermeasures mission package.

"The Navy continues to work with its industry partner, General Dynamics Mission Systems, to develop, test, and deliver the needed Knifefish capability to the fleet," Capt. Jon Rucker, program manager for the Navy's Unmanned Maritime Systems Program Office (PMS406), said as part of the statement. "The system performed well against a variety of surrogate targets and we are confident we will refine its performance to support the planned schedule in 2017."

General Dynamics plans to conduct additional at-sea testing of Knifefish later this year "to refine system performance" before the Navy does formal systems acceptance trials, according to the company. The Defense Department's inspector general released a report last October stating the Knifefish's development is behind schedule and may not be ready for a low-rate initial production decision planned for the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2017.