Top-secret US aquatic drone weapon ‘Manta Ray’ spotted on Google Maps for all to see

A top-secret US submarine prototype weapon called “Manta Ray” has been spotted by eagle-eyed Google Maps users and remains plainly visible to the internet public.

Satellite photos showing the “Star Wars”-looking vessel docked at Port Hueneme naval base in California went viral Sunday, its unmistakable profile standing out in stark contrast to its dockmates.

The futuristic-looking, top-secret vessel was plainly visible on both Google Maps and Google Earth on Sunday. Google Maps

The smooth-looking autonomous vessel was named after the sea creature for its slick design and its ability to anchor itself deep underwater while operating in low-power mode.

Produced by Northrop Grumman as part of a US Navy project to develop long-range underwater weapons, Manta Ray is a sophisticated underwater drone capable of hibernating on the sea floor for “very long periods” without refueling.

Produced by Northrop Grumman as part of a US Navy project, Manta Ray is a sophisticated underwater drone capable of hibernating on the sea floor for “very long periods.” Northrop Grumman / SWNS

It uses “efficient, buoyancy-driven gliding to move through the water,” Dr. Kyle Woerner, Manta Ray program manager at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, said in an agency news release.

“Our successful, full-scale Manta Ray testing validates the vehicle’s readiness to advance toward real-world operations,” Woerner added.

“The craft is designed with several payload bays of multiple sizes and types to enable a wide variety of naval mission sets.”

The drone’s modular design enables it to be disassembled and transported in ordinary shipping containers, eliminating the necessity for dedicated port facilities. ZUMAPRESS.com

Its modular design enables it to be disassembled and transported in ordinary shipping containers, eliminating the necessity for dedicated port facilities.

The Navy spent more than three months testing the craft off the coast of Southern California, the Telegraph reported.

Defense analysts suspect the Navy’s push to develop drone technology is intended as a strategic counter to Russian and Chinese submarine operations, the outlet said.

Russians have been developing underwater drones of their own, and last year announced plans to acquire nearly three dozen such vessels.

The US adversary claims its drone has a range of about 6,200 miles, can be armed with nukes and can reach speeds of up to 100 knots — about 115 mph.

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Chris Nesi