Advanced Autonomous Naval Platform Capabilities for UK Defense Sector

Sonardyne and MSubs will integrate Sonardyne’s commercial-off-the-shelf navigation, communications and imaging payloads into MSubs' Extra-Large Unmanned Underwater Vehicle to provide naval forces with enhanced situational awareness By DA Reporter / 10 Mar 2022
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Sonardyne has signed a strategic partnership agreement with MSubs to advance the capabilities of long endurance, autonomous underwater platforms for the U.K. defense sector.

The Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) will see the two companies working to integrate and evaluate Sonardyne’s commercial-off-the-shelf navigation, communications and imaging payloads into MSubs 9 meter-long Extra-Large Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (XLUUV) to provide naval forces with enhanced situational awareness across the underwater battlespace.

From Plymouth, south-west England, where both companies have research, trials and manufacturing facilities, Sonardyne will supply and support a suite of its technologies to MSubs. 

These technologies include SPRINT-Nav X, a hybrid inertial-Doppler navigation sensor that’s suitable for GNSS-denied environments; AvTrak 6, a long-range tracking, command and control instrument; and Vigilant, a Forward-Looking obstacle avoidance Sonar (FLS) jointly developed by Sonardyne and sister company Wavefront Systems.

MSubs’ XLUUV has been selected by the U.K. Royal Navy to help it understand the future roles for XLUUVs for surveillance, reconnaissance and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) missions, and to deliver new capabilities to the organization earlier than would otherwise be possible.

In 2021, MSubs and Sonardyne took part in the first phase of the U.K. Defense and Security Accelerator’s (DASA) Uncrewed Underwater Vehicle Testbed – Opportunity to Integrate competition, run jointly with the Royal Navy and the Defense Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl). As part of the demonstration, MSubs’ XLUUV used bathymetric data gathered by its Vigilant FLS to navigate in open waters off Plymouth.

This new announcement builds on this success, with the two companies targeting further emerging opportunities from the U.K. Ministry of Defence (MoD), such as Project CETUS. This will see the design and build of an extra-large Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (AUV) which may work alongside the Astute-class attack submarines in the future. 

“The integration of Sonardyne equipment on our extra-large AUV is a key factor for our continued success, helping us to move the state of the art forward swiftly,” said Brett Phaneuf, Managing Director of MSubs. “The operator-centric approach to engineering from Sonardyne and MSubs makes it easy to enhance our vehicle performance and reliability through applied research, bringing much needed capability to the underwater domain and greatly reduced timelines and budgets.”

Ioseba Tena, Head of Defense at Sonardyne, added, “Our two companies are at the forefront of the development of unmanned platforms and payloads that are reshaping the underwater battlespace playbook; delivering tactical edge to navies and governments facing new, and increasingly capable underwater adversaries. We’re excited to be opening a new chapter of collaboration with the MSubs team, and where better for that collaboration to be centred on than Plymouth, the U.K.’s marine autonomy city.”

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