General Dynamics begins development of Knifefish UUV

An unmanned underwater vehicle that eventually will help protect the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ships from mines on the seafloor has successfully passed through a critical design review and is now proceeding to the software and hardware development phases, said General Dynamics on April 8.

The undersea vehicle, known as the Knifefish, is expected to become operational in 2017, said General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems, which is the prime contractor on the project. The offboard sensor platform will prowl the waters around the ships for explosive threats to their hulls on the seafloor.

The General Dynamics AIS team is overseeing the development of the system hardware and software and will guide the integration of the completed design for three engineering development modules, the company said.

The Knifefish is a heavyweight-class mainstream mine countermeasure UUV that will address the Navy's need to reliably detect and classify mines resting on the seafloor and buried mines in high-clutter environments and areas with potential for mine burial, the company said,

The Knifefish also will have the capability to gather environmental data to provide intelligence support for other mine warfare systems, the company said.

The LCS will be able to send the Knifefish into areas that have been identified as minefields while the host ship remains outside the minefield boundaries, the company said. The modular, open systems approach to the Knifefish development will make it possible for the Navy to integrate the UUV with both variants of LCS via the common LCS interface control document, the company said

The Naval Sea Systems Command awarded General Dynamics AIS a contract to design and build Knifefish in September 2011. The General Dynamics AIS team on the Knifefish program includes Bluefin Robotics, Ultra Electronic Ocean Systems, Oceaneering International, Metron, Applied Research Laboratory at Penn State University, 3 Phoenix, General Dynamics IT and ASRC Research Technology Solutions.

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