Metal Shark to develop Unmanned Surface Vessel loaded with Kamikaze drones

Metal Shark to develop unmanned vessels stocked full of suicide drones
A rendering of the autonomous vessel being developed for the US Marine Corps. Credit: Metal Shark

Louisiana-based shipbuilder Metal Shark is developing the Long Range Unmanned Surface Vessel (LRUSV) System for the United States Marine Corps. The Autonomous Naval Defense System will usher in a new era of naval technology while increasing the lethality of U.S. forces with a network of unmanned vessels.

The operational requirement arises from the Marines’ need to equip themselves with an unmanned, long-range surface platform capable of traveling autonomously for extended ranges and transporting loitering munitions, also known as Kamikaze drones, to address targets at sea and on land. This system will provide the ability to accurately track and destroy targets at range throughout the battlespace.

Metal Shark has not yet communicated on the technologies aboard its future autonomous ships. While fully autonomous, the vessels may be optionally manned, and they will carry multiple payloads, which they will be capable of autonomously launching and retrieving.

The LRUSV is expected to be about 11 m long vessel, integrated with the rest of the sensors and weapon systems of the U.S. Navy and the Marines. It will also have the ability to operate in collaboration with other vessels. In addition to being an excellent platform for ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance) functions, a swarm of LRUSVs, once assigned the mission, will have the ability to find and neutralize their targets and return to their base upon completion of the mission.

Metal Shark is not only to design the LRUSV, but is also responsible for integrating the software responsible for the autonomy of the unmanned aerial vehicle and the advanced command and control system.

The LRUSV program represents a significant milestone for autonomous technology, for the defense world, and for the entire shipbuilding industry,” said Metal Shark CEO Chris Allard. “We are thrilled to be integrating advanced autonomy and Command and Control capability into these highly specialized surface vessels to provide the Marine Corps with a next-generation system.

The USMC expects an entry of the Unmanned Surface Vessel into service between Fiscal Years 2025 and 2027. The same Metal Shark has also been selected by the U.S. Navy and Coast Guard to provide some platforms to be tested in response to their respective unmanned operational requirements.