Navy's Carbon-Fiber Stiletto Craft Tests High-Tech Gear at Sea

The Navy's high-speed experimental boat Stiletto is seen here in a screen grab from a video taken at the Sea-Air-Space Expo, National Harbor, Md., April 9, 2018. (Ho Lin/Military.com)
The Navy's high-speed experimental boat Stiletto is seen here in a screen grab from a video taken at the Sea-Air-Space Expo, National Harbor, Md., April 9, 2018. (Ho Lin/Military.com)

The Navy's stealthy carbon-fiber M80 Stiletto serves as a principal demonstration craft to test high-tech gear and new concepts in coastal and riverine warfare.

The craft, based at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek, Virginia, attracted attention and made local news as it made its way up the coast to appear at the annual Sea-Air-Space 2018 exposition this week.

It has been an asset in the Navy's maritime technology test arsenal since it launched in 2006. The Stiletto has been used to test coastal operations for the Navy SEALs; operations of surface and underwater drones; and the recovery of small, unmanned aerial vehicles.

"Everybody's looking for the magic bullet," said Dennis Danko, the Stiletto program manager.

"Let's say somebody has a new radar. We'll say, 'OK, bring it aboard. Let's test it out,' " Danko said aboard the Stiletto dockside at the annual Sea-Air-Space 2018 exposition.

The test could come at 50 knots. The 88-foot, 6-inch Stiletto, with a 40-foot beam, can hit that speed with its unusual M-shaped hull, which pulls only 2.5 feet of draft.

The test craft will take on all comers. According to the Navy, testing is "open to all from small business to large industry, academia and all government and international partners."

At the Gaylord National Convention Center at National Harbor, Maryland, Danko said, "We try to help them achieve their goals" -- cheaply.

Those testing new gear and concepts "typically only pay for their own labor and travel," according to a Navy release. The crew, craft and fuel are provided by the Stiletto program.

Stiletto is sponsored by the Pentagon's Rapid Reaction Technology Office and operated by Naval Surface Warfare/Combatant Craft Division (NSWCCD) at Little Creek.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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