• Anduril's XL-AUV. (Anduril)
    Anduril's XL-AUV. (Anduril)

A series of announcements immediately prior to, and during, the recent Indo Pacific 2022 exhibition in Sydney concerned Navy’s plans to acquire uncrewed undersea vehicles. Defence has since provided some background to the seemingly similar announcements. 

Navy has three risk mitigation projects now underway, as it aims to develop an Australian Uncrewed Undersea Vehicle (UUV) capability. The Defence Science and Technology Group (DST Group) are partners in the program, which will investigate a new autonomous undersea warfare capability to complement Navy’s submarine and surface fleets. 

The first to be announced was a three-year research collaboration with Anduril Australia, which was signed on 6 May and covers the co-development of a 35-metre Extra Large Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (XL-AUV). The work will include co-development of the design, development, test and evaluation of the XL-AUV in Australia and represents Navy’s main effort towards developing Extra Large Uncrewed Undersea Vehicles. 

The contract will see the construction of three XL-AUV prototypes over the next three years.

Navy has also signed a development contract with the Trusted Autonomous Systems – Defence Cooperative Research Centre (TAS-CDC), who are working with Canadian UUV developer Cellula Robotics on a smaller (12-metre) Large UUV prototype known as SeaWolf.

SeaWolf is therefore the name of the single prototype system and not a Navy project, although Navy is funding the overarching prototyping and development program.

The third initiative is a partnership with Melbourne SME C2 Robotics to further develop a large (eight-metre) UUV, known as Speartooth. Both SeaWolf and Speartooth prototypes are expected to be tested by the end of 2022.

“Both of these activities will contribute to Navy’s knowledge of the technologies and operation of these advanced systems,” a Defence spokesperson told ADM.

“Navy will harmonise all three UUV projects to ensure maximum capability is delivered, as well as developing a broad-based sovereign industry UUV capability.”

Further details of all three initiatives will appear in the June issue of ADM

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