US begins the MEDUSA project – UUV will mine the battle seas

The Naval Sea Systems Command, in an exercise of strategic foresight, has released a tentative request for proposals. The aim of this call is the design and critical assessment of an innovative project termed MEDUSA – a groundbreaking unmanned system dedicated to the complex task of maritime minelaying.

US begins the project MEDUSA - UUV will mine the battle seas
Photo credit: US Navy

In a formal pre-solicitation notice disseminated on Thursday, the Naval Sea Systems Command [NAVSEA] meticulously outlined its ambitious plans. The proposed project pertains to the conceptualization, fabrication, and rigorous testing of an innovative system referred to as the “mining expendable delivery unmanned submarine asset”, colloquially known as the MEDUSA UUV.

The pre-solicitation notice, put forth by NAVSEA, PMS 406, serves to not only disseminate a preliminary request for the proposal but also to invite feedback and responses from parties vested in this matter,” as communicated in the notice. In the pursuit of fostering competition and facilitating information dissemination for strategic planning, the notice articulated that the draft RFP has been issued.

The announcement elucidates that the issuance of the solicitation will transpire in the concluding quarter of the fiscal year 2023, a period culminating on the 30th of September.

Characterized by the Navy as a “tactical clandestine mining system”, the MEDUSA UUV represents a formidable convergence of an underwater vehicle, its supporting apparatus, and associated payloads.

The Navy conceives of MEDUSA as a disposable Unmanned Underwater Vehicle [UUV], projected to be deployed from a submarine’s torpedo tube. The vision for the MEDUSA UUV extends to its ability to bear hefty payloads and position mines with an exceptional level of precision.

The fiscal year 2024 budget documents disclose that the MEDUSA is not merely a medium class Unmanned Underwater Vehicle [UUV]. With its capacity for offensive mining operations, this UUV stands as a formidable tool when deployed from a submarine.

According to budgetary documents, the UUV, which is an underwater unmanned vehicle, is characterized by a diameter that is roughly 21 inches. This device is launched using an impulse from the torpedo tube, and its purpose is fulfilled, thus rendering it expendable, once its payloads have been successfully deployed.

The fiscal year 2024 [FY-24] funding proposal for the MEDUSA project stands at a remarkable $32.5 million. This figure is approximately double the amount allocated in FY-23 for the pursuit of research, development, testing, and evaluation endeavors.

In the fiscal year 2021, the United States Navy carried out an evaluative experiment on a prototype of the MEDUSA system. This assessment involved the employment of non-explosive payloads, demonstrating the system’s proficiency both in a terrestrial launch environment and through surface-initiated aquatic demonstrations.

In Fiscal Year 2022, a meticulous process of acquisition planning and requirements generation was initiated. The goal was to competitively award a contract to the industry in Fiscal Year 2024 for the creation of tactical prototype systems, as stated in the budget documents. These documents provide an in-depth account of the plans for Fiscal Year 2024:

  • Initiate a competitive prototyping contract with industry partners, aiming at the thoughtful design and comprehensive development of the MEDUSA project.
  • Embark on concerted endeavors within the industry to mitigate risks, focusing primarily on contractual and preliminary design activities. 
  • Commence with meticulous planning and preparation activities about the integration of submarines.
  • Persistently pursue the government’s endeavors towards risk mitigation.


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