Acacia Systems has been selected to lead a $1.6 million project to boost the Royal Australian Navy’s undersea surveillance capability, funded through the Defence Innovation Partnership’s Activator Fund and run in collaboration with Defence Science and Technology Group.
The project - Enhancing the RAN's Undersea Surveillance Minimum Viable Capability - aims to improve operational performance by increasing the accuracy and range of automatic detection, tracking, and localisation of undersea threats.
It is backed by the University of Adelaide, University of South Australia, Curtin University and Defence Science and Technology Group.
"(The project) will apply the latest research in the areas of multi-object tracking, reinforcement learning and large language models to improve the RAN’s persistent undersea surveillance capability," said Horden Wiltshire, Chief Executive Officer Acacia Systems.
"The use of uncrewed surface vehicles deployed with towed arrays represents an asymmetrical Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capability. For example, for the fraction of the cost of ASW frigates, these systems can field a credible capability to detect threat submarines, without risking the lives of sailors in the process."
The Activator Fund was established in June 2023 to speed up the translation of innovative defence technology into real world capability for the Australian Defence Force.
"The Activator Fund was established to support larger-scale, higher technology readiness level projects which are very closely aligned to Defence’s priorities, and we have seen that in this project led by Acacia," said Susan Close, Deputy Premier of South Australia.
"South Australia is home to world class research and industry capability in undersea warfare technology and the successful consortia are a highly experienced team with a long track record of delivering Defence projects."
Thales Australia are supporting the project via the provision of Sonar data sets from their BluesentryTM Autonomous Sonar Payload, and Saab Australia with their Combat Management System (CMS) development facilities at Mawson Lakes.
Five applications were received under the project theme 1 ‘Remote Undersea Surveillance Data Processing, Analysis and Networking’ with subsequent project themes under the Activator Fund to be announced later.
"The Defence Innovation Partnership’s Activator Fund demonstrates the harnessing of the national innovation ecosystem to rapidly transition technology developments into operational Defence capabilities," said Professor Tanya Monro, Chief Defence Scientist.
"The undersea surveillance project, led by Acacia, aligns with Defence Innovation, Science and Technology priorities to future-proof the Australian Defence Force in a complex, evolving environment."