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Thales Australia and Ocius Technologies have entered a Teaming Agreement to advance the development and deployment of a scalable Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) capability equipped for Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) and surveillance missions.

The Australian designed and manufactured Blue Sentry autonomous system, comprising a team of Ocius Bluebottle USVs integrated with Thales Australia’s new thin line Fibre Optic Towed Array capability, are deployed from shore to autonomously patrol large areas of Australia’s coastline, performing underwater ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Reconnaissance) missions for long periods of time at sea, and in extreme weather conditions.

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."

Traditional Towed Array capability was first deployed on the Collins Class Submarine to enable advanced threat detection and classification at sea. Thales’s thin line Fibre Optic Towed Array is a miniaturised version of a submarine Fibre Optic Towed Array, enabling autonomous detection, classification and localisation of craft on the surface or below the water that generate acoustic noise or produce acoustic reflections.

The Blue Sentry system’s autonomous detection capabilities also enable covert communication to allies below the surface using long-range low frequency underwater communications. The newly developed thin line Towed Array is designed, developed and manufactured at Thales Australia’s Acoustics Centre of Excellence at Rydalmere in NSW.

Thales has been working collaboratively with Ocius since 2013 on the role of the USV in ASW.

“The detection and classification of modern undersea threats at tactically useful ranges requires a highly optimised balance between the sensor and the platform to ensure success in the most challenging of acoustic environments," Chris Jenkins, Chief Executive, Thales Australia and New Zealand said. "The specialist teams within Ocius and Thales Australia have worked to bring their respective capabilities together into the Australian designed and manufactured Blue Sentry product and we look forward to taking it into the future.”

“If you can imagine a map of Australia with Blue Sentry Bluebottles scattered about the Exclusive Economic Zone where illegal vessels know if they enter our waters, they will get stung. This is not only Australian Sovereign capability it is the best. This is the quietest and most capable persistent USV platform combined with the best array," Robert Dane, Founder and Chief Executive of Ocius Technology said.

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