ZPM says the Piranha USV is the largest boat built from nano-enhanced materials. Designed by ZPM's Advanced Composites Solutions team, the Piranha is built entirely from Arovex nanotube reinforced carbon fibre prepreg.
The 54-ft boat weighs only 8000 lbs and can carry up to 15 000 pounds of payload more than 2500 miles. Compared to existing USVs, the Piranha USV is said to have triple the payload capacity and ten times the range.
Construction of the Piranha USV is currently underway, and the prototype is scheduled to begin sea trials in the second quarter this year.
"The Piranha USV is designed to perform a wide variety of missions like anti-piracy, search and rescue, submarine hunting, and harbour patrol," explains Russell Belden, VP Advanced Composite Solutions and Director of the Piranha USV Program at ZPM. "Since the Piranha is an unmanned surface vessel, it will reduce the risk to the warfighter and provide greater capability for those missions at a dramatically lower cost. This craft provides real opportunity to use unmanned vessels as a true force multiplier."
Armament options will include stabilised machine guns, Mark 54 torpedoes, and over-the-horizon missiles.
"The US Navy and Coast Guard are facing a looming budgetary crisis with little relief in sight," says James Hasik, principal at Hasik Analytic, a defence industry consulting firm that has been working with ZPM to refine the USV's operational concept and marketability to military customers. "A cost-effective unmanned vessel like the Piranha, with its range and payload, could provide the numbers and capabilities to significantly augment the current fleets, and help to control the seas from the Caribbean to the Mediterranean, the Persian Gulf, and the Horn of Africa."
Zyvex Performance Materials, headquartered in Columbus, Ohio, USA, specialisese in high performance prepregs, epoxy resins, and adhesives.