Thales Australia has received $3.8 million from the Defence Innovation Hub to develop its Australian engineered and built Blue Sentry autonomous marine system.
Part of $28 million in defence hub grants, Blue Sentry is a group of unmanned surface vehicles (USVs) equipped for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and surveillance missions.
The system incorporates a Thales Remote Active Sonar Systems (RASS) array, consisting of towed active and passive sonar sub systems, as well data processing integrated onto Ocius Technology’s autonomous platform, the Bluebottle (main picture and below).
According to Thales R&S project lead Daniel Dent the Bluebottle is a standout USV platform for long-term maritime mission endurance.
Dent said: “The Bluebottle design has a unique combination of capabilities which keep it moving forward in all-weather while still producing enough power for the payload utilising solar cells on the sail and deck for electricity generation.
“It has been proven at sea now over many missions for several years, performing remarkably well.”
The Blue Sentry fleet of USVs with integrated sonar arrays will be capable of remaining operational for extended periods of time, autonomously patrolling large areas of ocean performing underwater ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) missions.
“Missions that would have previously required the deployment of peopled assets for many days to complete will be able to be conducted remotely using the Blue Sentry team of Autonomous Vessels at a significantly reduced cost of coverage.”
Another advantage of the Blue Sentry system is that it is capable of being deployed both at surface and sub-surface depths enabling detection, classification and localisation of craft on the surface or below the water.
The Thales RASS element of Blue Sentry will enable covert communication to allies below the surface using long-range low frequency underwater communications.
Thales Australia and Ocius will utilise the grant funding to target engineering innovations to further develop the Bluebottle
- Work will be undertaken on:
- Trusted team autonomy
- navigation and persistence
- size and power consumption of sonar systems
- communications range and content
- integration of the RASS sonar system
- testing and proving for ASW missions
- and mission hardening of the vessel teams.
Pictures: Thales/Blue Sentry
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