Robert Dane, chief executive of Sydney-based provider of unmanned surface vessels OCIUS, has tipped smart autonomous craft as a potential stop-gap solution to cover the period until the introduction of new submarines under the SEA 1000 Future Submarines program.
Speaking to Defence Connect’s Philip Tarrant, Dane said that while it was easy to predict the future, it was rather more difficult to get the timing right.
“I would say that in 2018, we'll have these ready for procurement; that's 14 years before the future subs arrive,” he said. “I see these as… filling a gap that could aid the Collins Class submarines in that gap period, and then of course aid the future subs.
“I think these things will definitely be out there at some point in the future.”
Dane said that in terms of anti-submarine warfare capabilities, the firm’s marine drones – also dubbed ‘Satellites of the Sea’ – were difficult to spot when their sail was down.
“It's [also] very quiet. What we found from the testing with the Thales array was that we got better results than expected because the vessel itself is so quiet,” he added. “It was only on 80 metres of cable, but the sensor can pick up more because the vessel's very quiet.
“That's the first advantage, the second advantage is ... it's hard for anyone else to know exactly where it is. Plus … we could camouflage these. Right now, we have automatic identification system collision avoidance software, passive radar reflectors, some flags on it.”
Dane said there were all sorts of things try and make them visible, “but equally, you could lower that mast and have something that's much less visible”.
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