M80 Stiletto

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M80 Stiletto.jpg
United States
Name: M80 Stiletto
Launched: January 31, 2006
Fate: Trials, Development
General characteristics
Class and type: Experimental multihull ship
Displacement: 60 tons full load
Length: 88.6 ft (27.0 m)
Beam: 40 ft (12 m)
Height: 15 ft (5 m)
Draft: 2.5 ft (0.8 m)
Propulsion: 4 × 1,650 horsepower C-30 CAT

60 knots (110 km/h) max[1][1]

40 knots (74 km/h) cruise
Endurance: 500 nm at full load/ max speed
Boats & landing
craft carried:
1 Rigid hull inflatable boat
Troops: 12 SEALs
Complement: 3

The M80 Stiletto is an American prototype naval ship using advanced stealth technologies.[2] The M80 is produced by American marine engineering contractor, the M Ship Company, as an experimental testbed ship for The Pentagon’s Office of Force Transformation. It is notable for its innovative Pentamaran hull design and advanced carbon fiber composite construction.[3] [4] The Stiletto is being tested by the United States Navy SEALs and Special Warfare Combat Crewmen, in rough littoral seas.

Historically, ships have evolved to become narrower and deeper to achieve speed and stability. Instead (like other multihulls) the M Hull uses its width to gain stability. Its five slim hulls create virtually no bow wave, thus obviating the "hull speed' limitation of displacement craft. The Stiletto's "double-M hull" enables the craft to achieve a remarkably steady ride in rough seas at high speed, which makes the ride more comfortable and safer for military passengers. A disadvantage is that the five hulls give a large "wetted area", increasing drag.


The M80 Stiletto is a U.S. Navy vessel designed for combat in shallow coastal waters. The 88-foot (27 m) Stiletto's unusual shape and patented M-hull 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 littoral and riverine environments and potentially allows for beach landings. The "faceted" design of the frontal aspect is intended to give a low radar "stealth" signature.

All five hulls are visible in this picture of M80 Stiletto's bow

The M80 Stiletto is equipped with four Caterpillar, Inc. C32 1232 kW (1652 HP) engines yielding a top speed in excess of 60 knots (110 km/h) and a range of 500 nautical miles (900 km) when fully loaded. Alternatively, it may be fitted with jet drives for shallow-water operations and beaching. It has a topside flight deck[clarification needed] for launching and retrieving unmanned aerial vehicles.[citation needed] Its rear ramp that can launch and recover an 11-meter rigid-hull inflatable boats (RIB) or autonomous underwater vehicles (AUV).

It weighs 45 tons unloaded, light enough to be hoisted onto a cargo ship, yet with a 20 ton payload. The craft is 88.6 feet (27.0 m) LOA, with a width of 40 feet (12.2 m) and a height of 18.5 feet (5.6 m), yet has a draft of only 2.5 feet (0.8 m). The M80 Stiletto is the largest U.S. naval vessel using advanced carbon-fiber and epoxy composite materials, which yield a light yet strong hull. The prototype M80 Stiletto is expected to be in use in less than one year.[when?] These craft are expected to cost between $6 and $10 million each.

Rear view of M80 Stiletto during a training session with Navy SEALs, 2006.

Operational history[edit]

In 2006 and 2007, the Stiletto participated in Trident Warrior exercises, as well as a number of other naval exercises. This included three days of mine-clearing experimentation during Exercise Howler in 2006, when the vessel was operated by the Naval Special Clearance Team-1 (NSCT-1) from the Naval Amphibious Base in Coronado.

A key feature of this vessel is that it can set up a network between a special forces team by launching an unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) that relays information between the team and boat. The Stiletto can also carry surveillance UAVs to provide reconnaissance for the SEAL team, and, using a clustered supercomputer on board, will be able to send real-time images to the team on shore.

The Stiletto was selected by Time magazine as one of the Best Inventions of 2006 and one of two inventions in the Armed Forces category.[5] San Diego-based CONNECT named the M80 Stiletto as the Most Innovative New Product for 2006 in the General Technology category.

In 2008, the Stiletto deployed on a 70-day mission for USSOUTHCOM as part of a joint agency operation that included the Drug Enforcement Administration and U.S. Coast Guard.[6]

In July 2012, the US Navy deployed the Stiletto to retrieve the NASA Inflatable Reentry Vehicle Experiment 3 (IRVE-3) test article[7] with 3 m (9.8 ft) diameter heat shield which splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean off North Carolina after being launched on July 23 by a sounding rocket from NASA's Wallops Flight Facility. The Stiletto is referenced as a maritime demonstration craft operated by the Naval Surface Warfare Center Carderock, Combatant Craft Division, and based at Joint Expeditionary Base Little Creek-Ft Story, Va.

The UK is testing ISR packages compatible with the RQ-20A Puma hand-launched UAV on board the Stiletto in November 2014 under Capability Demonstration 15-1.[8]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "M80 Stiletto - Naval Technology". Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  2. ^ "Stiletto Stealth Ships: Look Different. Ride Different. Buy Different". Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  3. ^ "America's Largest Carbon Fiber Ship Is a Seafaring Speed Demon". gizmodo.com. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  4. ^ "M80 Stiletto". naval-technology.com. Retrieved 13 January 2018.
  5. ^ "Best Inventions of 2006 - TIME". 13 November 2006. Retrieved 14 February 2018 – via www.time.com.
  6. ^ "M Ship's Stiletto Nabs Smugglers". 17 September 2008. Retrieved 14 February 2018.
  7. ^ okrajoe (16 May 2012). "NASA Inflatable Reentry Vehicle IRV". Retrieved 14 February 2018 – via YouTube.
  8. ^ Scott, Richard (26 October 2014). "Dstl plans unmanned ISR payload demonstration from Stiletto". IHS Jane's Defence Weekly.

External links[edit]