Home' Asia Pacific Defence Reporter : APDR April 2015 Contents USV shares system commonality with the Navy’s
minesweeping drone boat, while the Mine Counter
Measures Support Boat (MCMSB) is evolved from
the 9-10 metre variants in-service with NSW Marine
Rescue and various state Police Forces.
THALES AUSTRALIA MCM SOLUTIONS
Thales told APDR that their bid was developed from
a range of international research studies investigating
future maritime MCM approaches based on scalable,
deployable and network-enabled expeditionary systems,
centred on unmanned autonomous vehicles that will
deploy from platforms at stand-off ranges.
The universal desire is to improve ship and crew
safety by removing personnel from the minefield, while
enabling effective battlespace preparation, offering
greater confidence in mine detection and classification
and speeding up search and clearance operations.
A Thales Australia spokesman told APDR that “As
the Royal Australian Navy’s primary provider of MCM
systems, having delivered and supported the Huon
Class mine-hunters and the Australian Minesweeping
System, we have an established track record backing
our SEA 1778 bid.
“We have conducted a worldwide search for
the best available off-the-shelf systems to meet the
Commonwealth’s requirements, and combined these
into a low risk, flexible system of systems that can
be deployed easily and integrate well with existing
“The systems are deployable in container sized
volumes or smaller, and deliver superior performance in
detecting, classifying, identifying and neutralising mines
with greatly diminished risk to personnel.
“Supported by Thales’s proven In-Service Support
capability, this approach delivers the best outcome for
the best price.”
Thales’s Australian Minesweeping System (AMAS)
was developed with the assistance of the DSTO and
According to Thales “AMAS is a systems approach
to minesweeping comprised of a magnetic, acoustic
and electric multi-influence sweep; a mine jammer for
time limited missions; a sweep tracker monitor system;
mission planning support system software; an ECDIS
based minesweeping navigation and control system;
and a range of integrated logistic support products and
services including deployment containers and training.”
ULTRA ELECTRONICS BID
UK defence firm Ultra Electronics has a strong track
record in the delivery and ongoing support of mine
counter measure and other underwater systems in
Europe, North America, the Middle East and Asia
Pacific. Their existing Australian subsidiary will be fully
responsible for SEA 1778 Phase 1 deliveries and
support, calling on their international network as and
Utilising proven skills as a systems’ integrator, Ultra
has tendered a fully integrated system comprising
mainly COTS based equipment, which they claim will
deliver high tempo rapid clearance capability through
a combination of a multi-shot neutraliser solution,
wide area search operational capability (using AUV’s
equipped with high resolution sonar) and powerful
mission data processing, analysis and target recognition
software; uses a combined containerised mission and
capability support system which is easily transportable,
re-locatable and sustainable; and supports
interoperability on deployed operations by using familiar
and supportable equipment, well known to RAN users
and other Tier 1 navies.
The Ultra response specifically utilised an AUV
(Hydroid UUV), although Ultra considers the UUV is
simply a carriage platform for a capability. The UUV will
be employed to deliver the required imaging systems,
and will be reliable and capable for the mission at hand.
Ultra told APDR that they “Take a view that we are
‘equipment agnostic’, we will assess the client needs
and match equipment to that need, then we bring a
support, training and logistics package that ensures the
capability is maintained at an operational and effective
NEW US NAVY DEPLOYABLE MCM
The US Navy is heavily investing in their modular,
reconfigurable Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) program.
Each LCS will have three types of Mission Packages:
Surface Warfare (SUW), Mine Countermeasures
(MCM), and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW).
The LCS MCM Mission Package provides mine
detection, neutralisation, and sweeping utilising both
helicopters and unmanned vehicles and supports joint
operations conducted ahead of, or concurrent with,
power projection forces.
Common open systems architecture design is a
critical element of the LCS MCM mission package. This
modularity of the mission package allows for platform
flexibility and quick reconfiguration in response to
evolving and dynamic mission requirements the Fleet.
In October 2014 the US Navy announced it had
awarded Textron Systems a $33.8 million contract for
the production of the Common Unmanned Surface
Vessel (CUSV), which will be a platform for the
Unmanned Influence Sweep System (UISS).
“The unmanned boats are designed to provide
the Navy’s Littoral Combat Ship (LCS) with a Mine
Countermeasure (MCM) capability. Testing for the first
phase of development is due to begin in 2015.
“The Unmanned Surface Vehicle (USV) will tow a
Mk104 acoustic sensor and transmit images to the
mother ship in real time.”
Another component of the LCS MCM Mission
Package Increment 3 is the General Dynamics Knifefish
MCM UUV that is designed to detect, avoid and identify
mine threats. Knifefish is expected to begin operational
testing in 2015 and to reach initial operating capability
A heavyweight (1772 kg) UUV, Knifefish derived
from the Bluefin Robotics' Bluefin-21, which uses
SeeByte’s SeeTrack Military software for optimizing
HOW SOON WILL AN RAN TASK
GROUP GET THIS PROTECTION?
The technology of deployable MCM is well understood
and a range of solutions are available to the RAN.
By seeking a MOTS capability, the project’s risks are
minimised, costs are well defined, and implementation
should be relatively straightforward.
With a MOTS solution, opportunities for the
Australian defence industry are mainly in the fields of
systems integration including MOTS and/or COTS
systems; systems engineering, project management,
system acquisition and support, integration and test of
equipment and services; and software development that
may be required to support the integration/interface of
the various subsystems into the overall solution.
With both SEA 1778 Phase 1 and JP 1770 Phase 1
tenders completing their evaluation phases and Second
Pass Approval documents being prepared, APDR
expects contract announcements before mid-2016 with
first system deliveries within a year after that. ¢
HMAS Huon's Diving Officer, Lieutenant
Geoff Crane, monitors his divers before
they leave the surface to assess a
possible mine shape contact. Credit: CoA
MINE COUNTER MEASURES
18 Asia Pacific Defence Reporter APRIL 2015
2/04/2015 3:18 pm
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