• HMAS Farncomb prepares to berth alongside Fleet Base West.
Defence/LSIS Kylie Jagiello
    HMAS Farncomb prepares to berth alongside Fleet Base West. Defence/LSIS Kylie Jagiello

L3Harris Technologies has announced an alliance agreement with Ultra Electronics and Indianic Group for the development of the RAN's new Magnetic Treatment Facility (MTF) to be installed in WA under the SEA 1350 Phase 2 program.

The SEA 1350 program aims to replace and upgrade the existing RAN facilities in WA, enabling the submarine fleet to undergo a pre-deployment process, which aims to reduce or eliminate the magnetism of a steel hull to enhance stealth capability, preventing submarines from triggering magnetic mines or attracting certain types of torpedos.

The companies have several years of experience providing signature management capability and working on maritime ranges for the RAN.

L3Harris’ Oceania business based in Fremantle provides the acoustic undersea range systems supporting signature management and live-firing exercises, and supports many other RAN systems including maritime navigation and hydrographic mission systems.

“Reducing ships’ magnetic signatures is a key capability for the RAN,” said Alan Titheridge, Managing Director, L3Harris Australia Group. “If we’re successful, we would also subcontract a number of other WA-based subject matter experts to support the design, construction and maintenance of the new facility – delivering sovereign superiority in the region.”

Ultra’s UK business, PMES, currently supplies the RAN’s existing MTF located at Fleet Base West as well as all in-service open sea magnetic ranges. If successful, Ultra would transfer skills and technology to its SA-based business to grow Australian industry’s signature management capability and enable sovereign sustainment.

“Ultra has been supplying naval electromagnetic signature management capability to both the Royal Navy and RAN for over four decades and we look forward to continuing this close relationship by supplying the next generation of Australian capability with our SEA 1350 partners L3Harris and Indianic,” said Doug Burd, Managing Director, Ultra Electronics Australia.

The third company under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) is WA-based SME, Indianic Group, who specialize in marine and subsea infrastructure. Indianic Group currently maintains and operates the existing magnetic measurement and deperming facilities at Fleet Base West.

“We have been involved with the magnetic treatment facility for the past 15 years, maintaining and sustaining the facility on a daily basis,” said Michael Gray, Managing Director, Indianic Group. “We look forward to joining forces with L3Harris and Ultra to provide a combined and enhanced support offering to the RAN.”

The formal tender process for Phase 2 of the SEA 1350 program has recently opened with an Initial Operating Capability planned for 2023.

The partnership would extend to the SEA 1350 Phase 3 Maritime Underwater Tracking Range, covering the upgrade of the fixed and portable acoustic tracking ranges, which is planned to be tendered in late 2020.

L3Harris and Ultra have also successfully partnered on other Australian projects across sonar, communications and electronic warfare technologies.

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