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Acacia Systems to lead $1.6M project to boost undersea surveillance

Adelaide-based defence SME Acacia Systems will lead a $1.6 million project designed to increase the accuracy and range of undersea surveillance systems. The project – Enhancing the RAN’s Undersea Surveillance Minimum Viable Capability – aims to improve operational performance by increasing the accuracy of automatic detection, tracking, and localisation of undersea threats.

The project is funded by a grant from the Adelaide-based Defence Innovation Partnership’s (DIP) Activator Fund and run in collaboration with Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG). Other team members are the University of Adelaide, University of South Australia, Curtin University and DSTG.

Undersea surveillance operates in challenging ocean environments and with an increasing number of advanced undersea vessels in operation, it’s imperative the RAN has the best possible systems in place, says the DIP.

“Led by Acacia, the program will apply the latest research in the areas of multi-object tracking, reinforcement learning and large language models to improve the RAN’s persistent undersea surveillance capability,” said Horden Wiltshire Chief Executive Officer Acacia Systems.

“The use of uncrewed surface vehicles deployed with towed arrays represents an asymmetrical Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) capability,” he added. “For example, for the fraction of the cost of ASW frigates, these systems can field a credible capability to detect threat submarines, without risking the lives of sailors in the process.”

The Activator Fund was established in June last year to speed up the translation of innovative defence technology into real world capability for the Australian Defence Force. It enables South Australia to create and participate in larger-scale innovation activities strongly aligned with the most significant challenges facing Defence.

“The Defence Innovation Partnership’s Activator Fund demonstrates the harnessing of the national innovation ecosystem to rapidly transition technology developments into operational Defence capabilities,” said the Chief Defence Scientist Prof Tanya Monro.

“The undersea surveillance project, led by Acacia, aligns with Defence Innovation, Science and Technology priorities to future-proof the Australian Defence Force in a complex, evolving environment.”

The Defence Strategic Review highlighted how critical capabilities such as long-range sub-surface Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) are. The AUKUS agreement also commits the partner nations to pursue technology sharing in additional undersea capabilities.

Thales Australia is supporting the project via the provision of Sonar data sets from its Bluesentry™ Autonomous Sonar Payload and Saab Australia is contributing its Combat Management System (CMS) development facilities at Mawson Lakes.

Five applications for the Activator Fund were received under project theme 1 ‘Remote Undersea Surveillance Data Processing, Analysis and Networking’ with subsequent project themes under the Fund to be announced later.

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