The U.S. Navy, one of the nation's largest airplane manufacturers and a top shipbuilding firm are diving into the ocean to revolutionize naval warfare, according to a report by Defense One.
Boeing and Huntington Ingalls have been tasked with creating the Echo Voyager, a massive unmanned, autonomous submarine weighing 50-tons and measuring more than 50-feet long. It is designed to be able to stay underwater for months at a time.
"We are combining Boeing's preeminent [unmanned underwater vehicle] maritime engineering team with our nation's leading shipbuilder and Navy technical services company to get operational vehicles to the Navy years ahead of the standard acquisition process," said Darryl Davis, president of Boeing Phantom Works.
The Navy hopes the drone can fulfill a variety of roles, like firing missiles, dropping mines or conducting underwater research.
Deputy Defense Secretary Bob Works visited Boeing's Huntington Beach Factory in California late last year and said that he was impressed with the drone's capabilities.
"Being able to drop things out of the bottom as well as launch things out of the top, long endurance, deep-diving depth, persistence, all of those things were really, really exciting to see," Work said.
Boeing began testing a prototype of the underwater drone in the Pacific Ocean on June 5. The preliminary tests are focusing on communication, autonomy and battery systems, Boeing said in a release.