‘Monster Manta Ray’ Spy Drone Ready to Prowl Oceans for US Navy

Estimated read time 2 min read

The Pentagon has released images of a giant Underwater drone shaped like a manta ray, designed to carry out long-range operations for the US Navy, according to The Times. The unmanned craft, built by Northrop Grumman, a US defense company, has been fully tested in trials off the coast of southern California.

Delivery and Assembly

The drone is so large that it had to be delivered to the test area in subsections. Although no measurements have been publicly disclosed, it appears to be the largest underwater drone ever developed for the Navy. Darpa Manta Ray program manager Kyle Woerner said the “extra-large UUV (unmanned underwater vehicle) could be rapidly assembled in the field.”

'Monster Manta Ray' Spy Drone Ready to Prowl Oceans for US Navy 2

Long-Duration Missions and Energy-Saving Technologies

Northrop Grumman stated that the drone has been designed to conduct “long-duration, long-range missions in ocean environments where humans can’t go.” It has been fitted with energy-saving technologies that allow the drone to remain on the ocean floor for extended periods while using limited power to gather intelligence or carry out other surveillance missions.

Payload Bays and Expeditionary Deployment

The drone, equipped with four small propellers, glides gracefully through the water like its fish namesake. “The craft is designed with several payload bays of multiple sizes and types to enable a wide variety of naval mission sets,” Woerner explained. The entire system has been designed for “easy shipment in five standard shipping containers to support expeditionary deployment,” according to Northrop Grumman.

'Monster Manta Ray' Spy Drone Ready to Prowl Oceans for US Navy 3

Advancing Towards Real-World Operations

Woerner said the successful sea trials had shown the drone was ready to advance towards “real-world operations.” The US Navy is focusing much of its new-technology programs on developing unmanned surface and underwater vessels, with the aim of having an underwater drone that can operate for nearly unlimited periods and be launched from a warship.

The development of the ‘Monster Manta Ray’ spy drone marks a significant step forward in the US Navy’s capabilities to conduct long-range, long-duration missions in previously inaccessible ocean environments. As the drone advances towards real-world operations, it has the potential to revolutionize the way the Navy gathers intelligence and conducts surveillance missions.

Photos courtesy of Northrop Grumman.

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