Radix Marine, Inc, a marine vessel development company specializing in homeland defense initiatives, announced today that it has entered into an agreement to acquire, through an Equipment Lease and Purchase Agreement, the GB Challenger Class Craft, the working prototype of the company's high-speed unmanned patrol watercraft. Radix Marine will own the GB Challenger outright at the conclusion of the five-year lease with Blue Ribbon Leasing and Financial, Inc., which acquired the craft from the builder.
Radix Marine had previously arranged for the lease of the GB Challenger but decided against finalizing the agreement in lieu of focusing its efforts on other markets. With the company's name change in May and the cultivation of new opportunities in the marine industry, acquiring the GB Challenger became a key priority.
Radix Marine's unmanned patrol craft, also known as the unmanned surface vehicle (USV), is the core technology and design platform for the company's current product line. Radix Marine intends to use this platform as the basis of its future product offerings, including both manned and unmanned patrol craft. "We believe the execution of the lease and purchase agreement is an important step for Radix Marine as we continue to strategically refine our business model to focus on opportunities within the marine industry. The GB Challenger has become an essential component for the company," said Kathy Bright
, President of Radix Marine. "We expect the GB Challenger to enhance our business opportunities, as both a demonstration unit for potential clients and as a test platform for new technologies," Bright added.
Radix Marine plans
to complete the upgrade and overhaul of the GB Challenger currently in progress. "All modifications required for the GB Challenger are of a general maintenance nature and should be completed within a few short weeks," said Bright. The company plans to move the GB Challenger to a new moorage site closer to its corporate offices once the maintenance is complete. Long-term plans for the craft include continued use as a test platform for new electronics systems, acoustic tests, and experiments in weight-reduction using composites to replace elements of the superstructure such as the module cover, radar arch, and portions of the pilot/navigator console. Some of these tests will be done in conjunction with the company's other efforts in developing USVs.
According to industry research firm Moire International, the potential market for USVs will be $1 billion from 2005 to 2009. USVs are small, remotely controlled unmanned boats ranging in size from six to 50 feet. Much like the Predator, the unmanned air vehicle that was a major contributor to recent military efforts in Iraq, USVs can be used for a variety of security applications ranging from surveillance to mine detection. Through its subsidiary, International Maritime Platforms International (IMPI), Radix Marine is currently participating with the U.S. Government in an Advanced Concept Technical Demonstration for USVs. IMPI is performing on such a contract with the U.S. Navy in partnership with other leading U.S. defense prime contractors.