> Strange Vehicles > Stiletto
Launched in 2006, the M80 Stiletto was designed as an operational
experiment for the Pentagon's Office of Force Transformation (OFT)
and an example of the next generation of military vessels that combines
new materials (carbon fiber), with a networked architecture and a
The M80 Stiletto initiative is part of OFT's Wolf PAC Distributed
Operations Experiment, conducted in association with USSOCOM, to explore
command and control of geographically dispersed, but networked, autonomous
and semi-autonomous military forces. This new concept of operations
by the Department of Defense is in response to diffuse threats that
are perceived as emerging in the future.
The M80 Stiletto and Wolf PAC operational experiment was USN (ret)
Vice Admiral Arthur Cebrowski's vision for a more adaptive force using
high numbers of smaller, faster networked vessels designed for littoral,
or near shore, waters and costing less to build than conventional
ships, said Cmdr. Gregory Glaros, Stiletto's project lead and a military
transformation strategist who worked for Cebrowski. Cebrowski died
last November, but the new Navy Expeditionary Combat Command (NECC),
announced in January 2006, is, in effect, implementing the vice admiral's
vision for expeditionary combat in the 21st century, said Glaros.
"We are confident that the M80 Stiletto's design is superior
to all other existing technologies. Nothing else is out there that
can achieve the qualities important to brown water vessels at a relatively
low cost with short design and production cycles," said Chuck
Robinson, co-founder of San Diego-based M Ship Co. and a former deputy
secretary of state with Henry Kissinger.
The 88-foot long vessel marks a breakthrough in naval architecture,
featuring M Ship Co.'s patented M-shaped hull that provides a stable
yet fast platform for mounting electronic surveillance equipment or
weapons, or for conducting special operations. The hull design does
not require foils or lifting devices to achieve a smooth ride at high
speeds in rough conditions. Its shallow draft means the M80 Stiletto
can operate in riverine environments and potentially allows for beach
landings. The fuel-efficient M80 Stiletto is equipped with four Caterpillar
engines, yielding a top speed in excess of 50 knots (nearly 60 miles
per hour) when fully loaded and can be outfitted with jet drives for
shallow water operations and beaching.
"The M-hull form creates a natural surface effect that not only
enhances top-speed performance, but uses the bow wave energy to reduce
the overall wake signature,"said Bill Burns, co-founder of M
Ship Co., noting that the military is also interested in 40- and 120-foot
vessels of similar design. "This makes the boat faster and more
maneuverable because it remains flat, with almost no heeling, even
during high-speed turns. The vessel's proprietary design also gives
it a low-radar profile."
The M80 Stiletto is also notable because it is the largest U.S. Naval
vessel built using carbon fiber composite and epoxy building techniques,
which yields a very light, but strong hull.
M Ship Co. leveraged its network of collaborative partners and subcontractors
to build the M80 Stiletto in less than one year. Azimuth Inc. developed
the vessel's "electronic keel" - a maritime data bus for
networked plug and play of emerging technologies such as communications,
surveillance and weapons systems. SP Systems provided the carbon fiber
technology for the composite hull. The vessel was built by National
City-based Knight & Carver YachtCenter.
M Ship Co. is in discussions with several major defense contractors
to capitalize on the success of the M-hull technology for the emerging
military market for vessels that can operate in alignment with the
NECC's new focus on "brown water" operations.