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Navy Large Unmanned Surface and Undersea Vehicles: Background and Issues for Congress

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Navy Large Unmanned Surface and Undersea
July 28September 8, 2020 , 2020
Vehicles: Background and Issues for Congress
Ronald O'Rourke
The Navy in FY2021 and beyond wants to develop and procure three types of large unmanned The Navy in FY2021 and beyond wants to develop and procure three types of large unmanned
Specialist in Naval Affairs Specialist in Naval Affairs
vehicles (UVs). These large UVs are called Large Unmanned Surface Vehicles (LUSVs), vehicles (UVs). These large UVs are called Large Unmanned Surface Vehicles (LUSVs),

Medium Unmanned Surface Vehicles (MUSVs), and Extra-Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicles Medium Unmanned Surface Vehicles (MUSVs), and Extra-Large Unmanned Undersea Vehicles
(XLUUVs). The Navy is requesting $579.9 million in FY2021 research and development funding (XLUUVs). The Navy is requesting $579.9 million in FY2021 research and development funding

for these large UVs and their enabling technologies. for these large UVs and their enabling technologies.
The Navy wants to acquire these large UVs as part of an effort to shift the Navy to a more distributed fleet architecture. The Navy wants to acquire these large UVs as part of an effort to shift the Navy to a more distributed fleet architecture.
Compared to the current fleet architecture, this more distributed architecture is to include proportionately fewer large surface Compared to the current fleet architecture, this more distributed architecture is to include proportionately fewer large surface
combatants (i.e., cruisers and destroyers), proportionately more small surface combatants (i.e., frigates and Littoral Combat combatants (i.e., cruisers and destroyers), proportionately more small surface combatants (i.e., frigates and Littoral Combat
Ships), and the addition of significant numbers of large UVs. Ships), and the addition of significant numbers of large UVs.
The Navy wants to employ accelerated acquisition strategies for procuring these large UVs, so as to get them into service The Navy wants to employ accelerated acquisition strategies for procuring these large UVs, so as to get them into service
more quickly. The Navy’s desire to employ these accelerated acquisition strategies can be viewed as an expression of the more quickly. The Navy’s desire to employ these accelerated acquisition strategies can be viewed as an expression of the
urgency that the Navy attaches to fielding large UVs for meeting future military challenges from countries such as China. urgency that the Navy attaches to fielding large UVs for meeting future military challenges from countries such as China.
The Navy envisions LUSVs as being 200 feet to 300 feet in length and having full load displacements of 1,000 tons to 2,000 The Navy envisions LUSVs as being 200 feet to 300 feet in length and having full load displacements of 1,000 tons to 2,000
tons. The Navy wants LUSVs to be low-cost, high-endurance, reconfigurable ships based on commercial ship designs, with tons. The Navy wants LUSVs to be low-cost, high-endurance, reconfigurable ships based on commercial ship designs, with
ample capacity for carrying various modular payloads—particularly anti-surface warfare (ASuW) and strike payloads, ample capacity for carrying various modular payloads—particularly anti-surface warfare (ASuW) and strike payloads,
meaning principally anti-ship and land-attack missiles. Although referred to as UVs, LUSVs might be more accurately meaning principally anti-ship and land-attack missiles. Although referred to as UVs, LUSVs might be more accurately
described as optionally or lightly manned ships, because they might sometimes have a few onboard crew members, described as optionally or lightly manned ships, because they might sometimes have a few onboard crew members,
particularly in the nearer term as the Navy works out LUSV enabling technologies and operational concepts. In marking up particularly in the nearer term as the Navy works out LUSV enabling technologies and operational concepts. In marking up
the Navy’s proposed FY2020 budget, some of the congressional defense committees expressed concerns over whether the the Navy’s proposed FY2020 budget, some of the congressional defense committees expressed concerns over whether the
Navy’s accelerated acquisition strategies provided enough time to adequately develop concepts of operations and key Navy’s accelerated acquisition strategies provided enough time to adequately develop concepts of operations and key
technologies for these large UVs, particularly the LUSV. In response, the Navy’s FY2021 budget submission proposes to technologies for these large UVs, particularly the LUSV. In response, the Navy’s FY2021 budget submission proposes to
modify the acquisition strategy for the LUSV program so as to provide more time for developing operational concepts and modify the acquisition strategy for the LUSV program so as to provide more time for developing operational concepts and
key technologies before entering into serial production of deployable units. Under the Navy’s proposed modified LUSV key technologies before entering into serial production of deployable units. Under the Navy’s proposed modified LUSV
acquisition strategy, the Navy is proposing to use research and development funding to acquire two additional prototypes in acquisition strategy, the Navy is proposing to use research and development funding to acquire two additional prototypes in
FY2021 and one more additional prototype in FY2022 before shifting in FY2023 to the use of procurement funding for the FY2021 and one more additional prototype in FY2022 before shifting in FY2023 to the use of procurement funding for the
procurement of deployable LUSVs at annual procurement rates in FY2023-FY2025 of 2-2-3. procurement of deployable LUSVs at annual procurement rates in FY2023-FY2025 of 2-2-3.
The Navy defines MUSVs as being 45 feet to 190 feet long, with displacements of roughly 500 tons. The Navy wants The Navy defines MUSVs as being 45 feet to 190 feet long, with displacements of roughly 500 tons. The Navy wants
MUSVs, like LUSVs, to be low-cost, high-endurance, reconfigurable ships that can accommodate various payloads. Initial MUSVs, like LUSVs, to be low-cost, high-endurance, reconfigurable ships that can accommodate various payloads. Initial
payloads for MUSVs are to be intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) payloads and electronic warfare (EW) payloads for MUSVs are to be intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) payloads and electronic warfare (EW)
systems. The Navy is pursuing the MUSV program as a rapid prototyping effort under what is known as Section 804 systems. The Navy is pursuing the MUSV program as a rapid prototyping effort under what is known as Section 804
acquisition authority. The first MUSV prototype was funded in FY2019 and the Navy wants fund the second prototype in acquisition authority. The first MUSV prototype was funded in FY2019 and the Navy wants fund the second prototype in
FY2023. On July 13, 2020, the Navy announced that it had awarded “a $34,999,948 contract to L3 Technologies, Inc. for the FY2023. On July 13, 2020, the Navy announced that it had awarded “a $34,999,948 contract to L3 Technologies, Inc. for the
development of a single Medium Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MUSV) prototype, with options to procure up to eight development of a single Medium Unmanned Surface Vehicle (MUSV) prototype, with options to procure up to eight
additional MUSVs.” additional MUSVs.”
The first five XLUUVs were funded in FY2019; they are being built by Boeing. The Navy wants procure additional The first five XLUUVs were funded in FY2019; they are being built by Boeing. The Navy wants procure additional
XLUUVs at a rate of two per year starting in FY2023. The Navy’s FY2021 budget submission does not include funding for XLUUVs at a rate of two per year starting in FY2023. The Navy’s FY2021 budget submission does not include funding for
the procurement of additional XLUUVs in FY2021 or FY2022. the procurement of additional XLUUVs in FY2021 or FY2022.
The Navy’s large UV programs pose a number of oversight issues for Congress, including issues relating to the analytical The Navy’s large UV programs pose a number of oversight issues for Congress, including issues relating to the analytical
basis for the more distributed fleet architecture; the Navy’s accelerated acquisition strategies for these programs; technical, basis for the more distributed fleet architecture; the Navy’s accelerated acquisition strategies for these programs; technical,
schedule, and cost risk in the programs; the proposed annual procurement rates for the programs; the industrial base schedule, and cost risk in the programs; the proposed annual procurement rates for the programs; the industrial base
implications of the programs; potential implications for miscalculation or escalation at sea; the personnel implications of the implications of the programs; potential implications for miscalculation or escalation at sea; the personnel implications of the
programs; and whether the Navy has accurately priced the work it is proposing to do in FY2021 on the programs. programs; and whether the Navy has accurately priced the work it is proposing to do in FY2021 on the programs.
Congressional Research Service Congressional Research Service


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Contents
Introduction ..................................................................................................................................... 1
Background ..................................................................................................................................... 1

Navy USVs and UUVs in General ............................................................................................ 1
UVs in the Navy ................................................................................................................. 1
Navy USV and UUV Categories......................................................................................... 2
Large UVs and Navy Ship Count ....................................................................................... 2
Part of More Distributed Navy Fleet Architecture .............................................................. 4
Accelerated Acquisition Strategies and Enabling Technologies ......................................... 7
LUSV, MUSV, and LXUUV Programs in Brief ........................................................................ 8
LUSV Program ................................................................................................................... 8
MUSV Program ................................................................................................................ 1315
XLUUV Program .............................................................................................................. 1416
FY2021-FY2025 Funding ................................................................................................. 1619
Issues for Congress ........................................................................................................................ 1720
Analytical Basis for More Distributed Fleet Architecture ....................................................... 1720
Accelerated Acquisition Strategies and Funding Method ....................................................... 1720
Technical, Schedule, and Cost Risk ........................................................................................ 1720
Annual Procurement Rates ...................................................................................................... 1822
Industrial Base Implications .................................................................................................... 1822
Potential Implications for Miscalculation or Escalation at Sea ............................................... 1923
Personnel Implications ............................................................................................................ 2024
FY2021 Funding ..................................................................................................................... 2024

Legislative Activity for FY2021 .................................................................................................... 2124
Summary of Congressional Action on FY2021 Funding Request .......................................... 2124
FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act (H.R. 6395/S. 4049) ........................................ 2125

House ................................................................................................................................ 2125
Senate ................................................................................................................................ 2326
FY2021 DOD Appropriations Act (H.R. 7617) ...................................................................... 2832
House ................................................................................................................................ 2832

Figures
Figure 1. Navy USV Systems Vision .............................................................................................. 3
Figure 2. Navy UUV Systems Vision .............................................................................................. 3
Figure 3. Navy Briefing Slide on Surface Combatant Force Architecture ...................................... 4
Figure 4. Enabling Technologies for USVs and UUVs ................................................................... 8
Figure 5. Sea Hunter Prototype Medium Displacement USV ......................................................... 9
Figure 6. Prototype and Notional LUSVs and MUSVs................................................................. 10
Figure 7. Boeing Echo Voyager UUV ........................................................................................... 15
Figure 8LUSV Prototype .............................................................................................................. 11 Figure 8. LUSV prototype ............................................................................................................. 12 Figure 9. Rendering of L3Harris Design Concept for MUSV ...................................................... 16 Figure 10. Boeing Echo Voyager UUV ........................................................................................... 15 18
Figure 911. Boeing Echo Voyager UUV ........................................................................................... 16

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Figure 12. Boeing Echo Voyager UUV ......................................................................................... 19 Tables
Table 1. FY2021-FY2025 Requested and Programmed Funding for Large UVs ......................... 1619
Table 2. Congressional Action on FY2021 Large UV Funding Request ....................................... 2125

Contacts
Author Information ........................................................................................................................ 2932

Congressional Research Service Congressional Research Service

Navy Large Unmanned Surface and Undersea Vehicles

Introduction
This report provides background information and potential issues for Congress for three types of This report provides background information and potential issues for Congress for three types of
large unmanned vehicles (UVs) that the Navy wants to develop and procure in FY2021 and large unmanned vehicles (UVs) that the Navy wants to develop and procure in FY2021 and
beyond: beyond:
 Large Unmanned Surface Vehicles (LUSVs);  Large Unmanned Surface Vehicles (LUSVs);
 Medium Unmanned Surface Vehicles (MUSVs); and  Medium Unmanned Surface Vehicles (MUSVs); and
 Extra-large Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (XLUUVs).  Extra-large Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (XLUUVs).
The Navy wants to acquire these large UVs as part of an effort to shift the Navy to a new fleet The Navy wants to acquire these large UVs as part of an effort to shift the Navy to a new fleet
architecture (i.e., a new combination of ships and other platforms) that is more widely distributed architecture (i.e., a new combination of ships and other platforms) that is more widely distributed
than the Navy’s current fleet architecture. The Navy is requesting $579.9 million in FY2021 than the Navy’s current fleet architecture. The Navy is requesting $579.9 million in FY2021
research and development funding for these large UVs and their enabling technologies. research and development funding for these large UVs and their enabling technologies.
The issue for Congress is whether to approve, reject, or modify the Navy’s acquisition strategies The issue for Congress is whether to approve, reject, or modify the Navy’s acquisition strategies
and FY2021 funding requests for these large UVs. The Navy’s proposals for developing and and FY2021 funding requests for these large UVs. The Navy’s proposals for developing and
procuring them pose a number of oversight issues for Congress. Congress’s decisions on these procuring them pose a number of oversight issues for Congress. Congress’s decisions on these
issues could substantially affect Navy capabilities and funding requirements and the shipbuilding issues could substantially affect Navy capabilities and funding requirements and the shipbuilding
and UV industrial bases. and UV industrial bases.
In addition to the large UVs covered in this report, the Navy also wants to develop and procure In addition to the large UVs covered in this report, the Navy also wants to develop and procure
smaller USVs and UUVs, as well as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) of various sizes. Other smaller USVs and UUVs, as well as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) of various sizes. Other
U.S. military services are developing, procuring, and operating their own types of UVs. Separate U.S. military services are developing, procuring, and operating their own types of UVs. Separate
CRS reports address some of these efforts.1 CRS reports address some of these efforts.1
Background
Navy USVs and UUVs in General
UVs in the Navy
UVs are one of several new capabilities—along with directed-energy weapons, hypersonic UVs are one of several new capabilities—along with directed-energy weapons, hypersonic
weapons, artificial intelligence, and cyber capabilities—that the Navy says it is pursuing to meet weapons, artificial intelligence, and cyber capabilities—that the Navy says it is pursuing to meet
emerging military challenges, particularly from China.2 UVs can be equipped with sensors, emerging military challenges, particularly from China.2 UVs can be equipped with sensors,
weapons, or other payloads, and can be operated remotely, semi-autonomously, or (with weapons, or other payloads, and can be operated remotely, semi-autonomously, or (with
technological advancements) autonomously.3 They can be individually less expensive to procure technological advancements) autonomously.3 They can be individually less expensive to procure

1 See, for example, CRS Report R45519, 1 See, for example, CRS Report R45519, The Army’s Optionally Manned Fighting Vehicle (OMFV) Program:
Background and Issues for Congress
, by Andrew Feickert, and CRS Report R45392, , by Andrew Feickert, and CRS Report R45392, U.S. Ground Forces Robotics and
Autonomous Systems (RAS) and Artificial Intelligence (AI): Considerations for Congress
, coordinated by Andrew , coordinated by Andrew
Feickert. Feickert.
2 See, for example, Department of the Navy, 2 See, for example, Department of the Navy, Highlights of the Department of the Navy FY 2021 Budget, inside front , inside front
cover (“The Bottom Line”). For a CRS report on Navy lasers, electromagnetic railguns, and the gun-launched guided cover (“The Bottom Line”). For a CRS report on Navy lasers, electromagnetic railguns, and the gun-launched guided
projectile (also known as the hypervelocity projectile), see CRS Report R44175, projectile (also known as the hypervelocity projectile), see CRS Report R44175, Navy Lasers, Railgun, and Gun-
Launched Guided Projectile: Background and Issues for Congress
, by Ronald O'Rourke. For a CRS report on , by Ronald O'Rourke. For a CRS report on
advanced military technologies, see CRS In Focus IF11105, advanced military technologies, see CRS In Focus IF11105, Defense Primer: Emerging Technologies, by Kelley M. , by Kelley M.
Sayler. Sayler.
3 For more on autonomous UVs, see CRS In Focus IF11150, 3 For more on autonomous UVs, see CRS In Focus IF11150, Defense Primer: U.S. Policy on Lethal Autonomous
Weapon Systems
, by Kelley M. Sayler. , by Kelley M. Sayler.
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than manned ships and aircraft because their designs do not need to incorporate spaces and than manned ships and aircraft because their designs do not need to incorporate spaces and
support equipment for onboard human operators. UVs can be particularly suitable for long-support equipment for onboard human operators. UVs can be particularly suitable for long-
duration missions that might tax the physical endurance of onboard human operators, or missions duration missions that might tax the physical endurance of onboard human operators, or missions
that pose a high risk of injury, death, or capture of onboard human operators. Consequently UVs that pose a high risk of injury, death, or capture of onboard human operators. Consequently UVs
are sometimes said to be particularly suitable for so-called “three D” missions, meaning missions are sometimes said to be particularly suitable for so-called “three D” missions, meaning missions
that are “dull, dirty, or dangerous.”4 that are “dull, dirty, or dangerous.”4
The Navy has been developing and experimenting with various types of UVs for many years, and The Navy has been developing and experimenting with various types of UVs for many years, and
has transitioned some of these efforts (particularly those for UAVs) into procurement programs. has transitioned some of these efforts (particularly those for UAVs) into procurement programs.
The Department of the Navy states, for example, that its inventory of 4,094 aircraft at the end of The Department of the Navy states, for example, that its inventory of 4,094 aircraft at the end of
FY2019 included 99 UAVs, that its projected inventory of 3,912 aircraft at the end of FY2020 FY2019 included 99 UAVs, that its projected inventory of 3,912 aircraft at the end of FY2020
will include 45 UVs, and that its projected inventory of 4,075 aircraft at the end of FY2021 will will include 45 UVs, and that its projected inventory of 4,075 aircraft at the end of FY2021 will
include 57 UVs.5 Even so, some observers have occasionally expressed dissatisfaction with what include 57 UVs.5 Even so, some observers have occasionally expressed dissatisfaction with what
they view as the Navy’s slow pace in transitioning UV development efforts into programs for they view as the Navy’s slow pace in transitioning UV development efforts into programs for
procuring UVs in quantity and integrating them into the operational fleet. procuring UVs in quantity and integrating them into the operational fleet.
Navy USV and UUV Categories
As shown i As shown in Figure 1 anand Figure 2, the Navy organizes its USV acquisition programs into four the Navy organizes its USV acquisition programs into four
size-based categories that the Navy calls large, medium, small, and very small, and its UUV size-based categories that the Navy calls large, medium, small, and very small, and its UUV
acquisition programs similarly into four size-based categories that the Navy calls extra-large, acquisition programs similarly into four size-based categories that the Navy calls extra-large,
large, medium, and small. The large UVs discussed in this CRS report fall into the top two USV large, medium, and small. The large UVs discussed in this CRS report fall into the top two USV
categories icategories in Figure 1 and the top UUV category iand the top UUV category in Figure 2.
The smaller UVs shown in the other categories of The smaller UVs shown in the other categories of Figure 1 and Figure 2, which are not covered hich are not covered
in this report, can be deployed from manned Navy ships and submarines to extend the operational in this report, can be deployed from manned Navy ships and submarines to extend the operational
reach of those ships and submarines. The large UVs covered in this CRS report, in contrast, are reach of those ships and submarines. The large UVs covered in this CRS report, in contrast, are
more likely to be deployed directly from pier to perform missions that might otherwise be more likely to be deployed directly from pier to perform missions that might otherwise be
assigned to manned ships and submarines. assigned to manned ships and submarines.
Large UVs and Navy Ship Count
Because the large UVs covered in this report can be deployed directly from pier to perform Because the large UVs covered in this report can be deployed directly from pier to perform
missions that might otherwise be assigned to manned ships and submarines, some observers have missions that might otherwise be assigned to manned ships and submarines, some observers have
a raised a question as to whether the large UVs covered in this report should be included in the a raised a question as to whether the large UVs covered in this report should be included in the
top-level count of the number of ships in the Navy. Navy officials state that they have not yet top-level count of the number of ships in the Navy. Navy officials state that they have not yet
decided whether to modify the top-level count of the number of ships in the Navy to include these decided whether to modify the top-level count of the number of ships in the Navy to include these
large UVs.6 large UVs.6

4 See, for example, Ann Diab, “Drones Perform the Dull, Dirty, or Dangerous Work,” Tech.co, November 12, 2014; 4 See, for example, Ann Diab, “Drones Perform the Dull, Dirty, or Dangerous Work,” Tech.co, November 12, 2014;
Bonnie Robinson, “Dull, Dirty, Dangerous Mission? Send in the Robot Vehicle,” U.S. Army, August 20, 2015; Bonnie Robinson, “Dull, Dirty, Dangerous Mission? Send in the Robot Vehicle,” U.S. Army, August 20, 2015;
Bernard Marr, “The 4 Ds Of Robotization: Dull, Dirty, Dangerous And Dear,” Bernard Marr, “The 4 Ds Of Robotization: Dull, Dirty, Dangerous And Dear,” Forbes, October 16, 2017. , October 16, 2017.
5 Department of the Navy, 5 Department of the Navy, Highlights of the Department of the Navy FY 2021 Budget, Figure 3.7 on page 3-7. , Figure 3.7 on page 3-7.
6 For additional discussion of this question, see CRS Report RL32665, 6 For additional discussion of this question, see CRS Report RL32665, Navy Force Structure and Shipbuilding Plans:
Background and Issues for Congress
, by Ronald O'Rourke. , by Ronald O'Rourke.
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Navy Large Unmanned Surface and Undersea Vehicles

Figure 1. Navy USV Systems Vision

Source: Slide 3 of briefing by Captain Pete Small, Program Manager, Unmanned Maritime Systems (PMS 406), Slide 3 of briefing by Captain Pete Small, Program Manager, Unmanned Maritime Systems (PMS 406),
entitled “Unmanned Maritime Systems Update,” January 15, 2019, accessed May 22, 2019, at entitled “Unmanned Maritime Systems Update,” January 15, 2019, accessed May 22, 2019, at
https://www.navsea.navy.mil/Portals/103/Documents/Exhibits/SNA2019/UnmannedMaritimeSys-Small.pdf?ver=https://www.navsea.navy.mil/Portals/103/Documents/Exhibits/SNA2019/UnmannedMaritimeSys-Small.pdf?ver=
2019-01-15-165105-297. 2019-01-15-165105-297.
Figure 2. Navy UUV Systems Vision

Source: Slide 2 of briefing by Captain Pete Small, Program Manager, Unmanned Maritime Systems (PMS 406), Slide 2 of briefing by Captain Pete Small, Program Manager, Unmanned Maritime Systems (PMS 406),
entitled “Unmanned Maritime Systems Update,” January 15, 2019, accessed May 22, 2019, at entitled “Unmanned Maritime Systems Update,” January 15, 2019, accessed May 22, 2019, at
https://www.navsea.navy.mil/Portals/103/Documents/Exhibits/SNA2019/UnmannedMaritimeSys-Small.pdf?ver=https://www.navsea.navy.mil/Portals/103/Documents/Exhibits/SNA2019/UnmannedMaritimeSys-Small.pdf?ver=
2019-01-15-165105-297. 2019-01-15-165105-297.
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Navy Large Unmanned Surface and Undersea Vehicles

Part of More Distributed Navy Fleet Architecture
The Navy wants to acquire the large UVs covered in this report as part of an effort to shift the The Navy wants to acquire the large UVs covered in this report as part of an effort to shift the
Navy to a new fleet architecture that is more widely distributed than the Navy’s current Navy to a new fleet architecture that is more widely distributed than the Navy’s current
architecture. Compared to the current fleet architecture, this more distributed architecture is to architecture. Compared to the current fleet architecture, this more distributed architecture is to
include proportionately fewer large surface combatants (or LSCs, meaning cruisers and include proportionately fewer large surface combatants (or LSCs, meaning cruisers and
destroyers), proportionately more small surface combatants (or SSCs, meaning frigates and destroyers), proportionately more small surface combatants (or SSCs, meaning frigates and
Littoral Combat Ships), and the addition of significant numbers of large UVs. Littoral Combat Ships), and the addition of significant numbers of large UVs.
Figure 3 provides, for the surface combatant portion of the Navy,7 a conceptual comparison of provides, for the surface combatant porti