Boom for defence businesses in anti-submarine warfare

NUSHIP AWD Hobart
NUSHIP AWD Hobart

Ultra Electronics has come a long way since acquiring Avalon Systems in 2009. The company has recently been awarded government funding of $1.7 million to develop innovative defence technology, and its Command and Sonar Systems business unit has been deeply involved in first-of-class sea trials for the Air Warfare Destroyer (AWD) sonar.

Regional director for Ultra Electronics Australia & New Zealand Bernard Mills caught up with Defence Connect discuss the future of anti-submarine warfare (ASW), the company’s involvement in the AWD project and the latest sonar results from the sea trials.

"The commonwealth made a decision to go with Ultra back in 2008," said Mills. "We've worked with the AWD Alliance and under Raytheon on that contract.

"It's really exciting for us because it's been a challenging program as it has been for everyone involved in AWD … the last couple of weeks in the water have been the first-of-class sea trials for that sonar."

Mills highlighted the success of the trial for Ultra, noting positive returns their system had during the trial.

"We've operated both the hull mount and also the towed array for significant lengths of time, gathered some very good data off it, had positive returns in terms of both platform targets and also in torpedo detection," he said.

"We're working with the DST group, obviously with CASG and other parts of the Commonwealth to analyse the data, making sure we continue working to tweak and work on those couple of things that need work. But overall, it's been a good success for us."

Mills also emphasised that ASW is a capability that is on the rise in Australia and something for the industry to be enthusiastic about.

"The things we have to be mindful of is that ASW is a capability area that's growing for the Royal Australian Navy," said Mills.

"So at the same time that the sea trials are testing the capability from an operational acceptance point of view … we're also thinking not just Ultra, but across industry and with the Navy about how to sustain it into the future, all of the training and human systems to really bring the Australian Navy up in its level of capability on ASW.

"So, I think it's an area of where there's a bright future. Obviously looking forward … the Collins enhancements and the future submarine gives, you know, a lot of activity on the subsurface level. SEA 5000, the future frigate will be a platform that obviously is very ASW-focused as well. Add to that interoperability with airborne platforms such as the Romeo helicopter, P-8, and UAVs and the growth in multi-statics. So, you know, rather than seeing AWD as a discrete project, it really is a piece in a puzzle that the Royal Australian Navy is building to really enhance the capability of that navy."

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