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The U.S. Navy is investing in Mine Countermeasure unmanned vehicle Knifefish program


General Dynamics, which provides engineering support for the Navy’s Knifefish system, is set to get an additional $13.6 million for continued program support. This comes on top of the initial $9.2 million contract that General Dynamics received for the program from the Navy.
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The U.S. Navy is investing in Mine Countermeasure unmanned vehicle Knifefish program 925 001 2LCS mine countermeasures mission package. (Picture source: General Dynamics)


The Naval Sea Systems Command of the US Navy selected General Dynamics Advanced Information Systems as the prime contractor to develop Knifefish as part of its Surface Mine Countermeasure Unmanned Underwater Vehicle programme in September 2011.

The program is intended to be completed by September of next year, after which full-rate production will begin in 2022. The Navy has expressed interest in purchasing a total of thirty Knifefish systems: twenty-four of which will support Littoral Combat Ship operations, and six of which will be used in other ships that may face a threat from naval mines.


The U.S. Navy is investing in Mine Countermeasure unmanned vehicle Knifefish program 925 002 KnifeFish UUV (Picture source: General Dynamics)


About the Knifefish Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV):

Knifefish is a medium-class Mine Countermeasure (MCM) Unmanned Undersea Vehicle (UUV) designed for deployment off the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS). The Knifefish UUV provides the mine warfare commander with enhanced mine-hunting capability by detecting, classifying and identifying both buried mines and mines in high clutter environments.

Unlike some other underwater autonomous vehicles, the Knifefish does not tow a sonar but has a sonar built into its body, significantly streamlining the design and increasing range and endurance.

The Knifefish system uses low-frequency sonar in tandem with target recognition software to identify underwater targets. The Knifefish system is designed to essentially act as a sensor extension of its mother ship, allowing the ship to stay behind the Knifefish, away from minefields and out of harm’s way.


The U.S. Navy is investing in Mine Countermeasure unmanned vehicle Knifefish program 925 003LCS Independence Class. (Picture source: General Dynamics)


The LCS mine countermeasure mission package:

A critical element of the LCS Mine Countermeasure (MCM) mission package, which is comprised of many different mine warfare platforms, including Knifefish, is its common open systems architecture design. Such modularity of the mission package allows for platform flexibility and quick reconfiguration of the whole mission package in response to evolving and dynamic mission requirements the fleet will encounter day-to-day.

Knifefish’s job is to detect, avoid and identify mine threats, reducing the risk to personnel by operating in the minefield as an off-board sensor while the host ship stays outside the minefield boundaries. Knifefish also gathers environmental data to provide intelligence support for other mine warfare systems.