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Forcys, a leading global maritime defence company, and SH Defence, part of SH Group, announced the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) to explore the integration of Forcys’ advanced solutions into SH Defence’s Cube™ Modular Mission Capability system. The signing took place during the Combined Naval Event (CNE) in Farnborough (UK), with Ioseba Tena, Managing Director of Forcys, and Jimmy Gehring Sales Director of SH Defence, in attendance.

Forcys integrates and brings to the defence market world-changing solutions from leading technology partners Chelsea Technologies, EIVA, Sonardyne, Voyis, and Wavefront Systems. These companies are renowned for their innovative offering in underwater and maritime operations, making them ideal partners for SH Defence’s Cube™ system.

The Cube™ Modular Mission Capability system is the future in Maritime mission modularity. Capable of turning (almost) any platform into a future-proof multi-mission capability using interchangeable modules for all four dimensions of modern warfare.

This agreement follows the successful recent delivery of a Containerised ROTV (Remotely Operated Towed Vehicle) solution to a NATO Navy. In this project, Forcys’ sister company EIVA A/S delivered a ScanFish L ROTV, which was seamlessly integrated into an SH Defence Cube™, demonstrating the potential of this collaborative integration.

“We are excited about the opportunities this MOU brings,” said Ioseba Tena, Managing Director of Forcys. “Integrating our advanced solutions with the Cube™ system will provide operational flexibility and capability to naval forces worldwide. This collaboration underscores our commitment to enhancing maritime defence through innovation and strategic partnerships.”

Jimmy Gehring, Sales Director of SH Defence, echoed this sentiment, stating, “we are proud of the future cooperation with Forcys and look forward to promote our joint efforts to the defence industry.”

The MOU marks a significant step towards a deeper collaboration between Forcys and SH Defence. Both companies are committed to pushing the boundaries of what is possible in naval operations, leveraging their combined expertise to deliver state-of-the-art solutions to defence markets worldwide.

From 11th to 13th February in Helsinki, Finland, Navy Tech brings together an authoritative speaker faculty with leading industry experts, programme managers, capability and requirements teams, front-line commanders, engineers and scientists to provide a forum for sharing common problems, networking and finding solutions to the problems naval forces face now and in the future.

Forcys has appointed Dr Ioseba (Joe) Tena as Managing Director and Mr Peter Hodgkinson as Non-Executive Director.

Ioseba, who takes up the role with immediate effect, has served as Forcys Commercial Director since the company’s formation in 2022. Prior to that, Ioseba was Head of Defence at Sonardyne International Limited who are also part of the Covelya Group alongside Forcys, Chelsea Technologies, EIVA, Voyis, and Wavefront Systems.

“Launching Forcys, we were confident our cutting-edge commercial technology would accelerate the development of powerful, next-generation underwater platforms,” says Ioseba. “And the initial response from customers validates this vision. I am excited in my new role to keep turning that vision into reality. Our customers venture where others fear to tread and Forcys, together with our technology partners across the Covelya Group, are dedicated to providing them with the best tools to succeed in their missions.”

Ioseba is a recognised and successful leader in the unmanned maritime systems and sensors industry. Prior to joining Sonardyne, Ioseba worked at SeeByte were he led the sales and marketing team. He has a PhD in Electrical and Electronic Engineering from Heriot-Watt University focused on underwater navigation and sonar.

Forcys are also welcoming Mr Peter Hodgkinson to the Forcys Limited board as a Non-Executive Director. Peter started his career as a Weapons Engineer in the Royal Navy Submarine Service working on Strategic Weapon Systems and complex integrated C4ISTAR systems. On retirement from the RN, he worked in the BAE Systems Advanced Technology Group, focused on sensor and C4I systems across a number of platforms, rising from Principal Engineer to Business Executive for the Advanced Technology Team.

Peter joined SEA maritime technology group as the Business Development Director in 2009, with a short period at OSI. During his time there, the company grew from 60 to 400 people through a combination of organic activity, mergers and acquisitions. Peter left the group in 2023.

Retiring to become a Senior Consultant in Maritime Defence, Peter brings a wealth of experience as a both a user and provider of cutting-edge maritime defence systems and has right skills and management experience to help drive our planned expansion.

“With Forcys, Covelya Group is committing to support our navies putting our best foot forward. We appreciate they need to work with companies that understand their operational requirements and their need for security. I am confident that the new board appointments will help us deliver on this commitment.” Stephen Fasham, CEO, Covelya Group.

MAST Australia 2024 from 19th to 21st November 2024 will be the first-in-class full service biennial defence event to take place in the southern hemisphere at the heart of Australia’s “Defence and Space State”.

Held from the 4th to 7th November in 2024 at Paris Nord, Villepinte in France. EURONAVAL event displays the latest cutting edge naval equipment.

Held from the 21st to the 23rd of May 2024 in Farnborough, United Kingdom, CNE 2024 event holds the popular underwater defence and security conference.

Navy Leaders

In testimony to the House Foreign Affairs Committee in May 2023, Assistant Secretary of State Jessica Lewis stated that “[AUKUS] Pillar II may have arrived just in time,” referring to a generally accepted assessment that China is ahead of the United States and its allies in 19 of 23 technologies relevant to AUKUS Pillar II. While advancing the state of the art in all of Pillar II technologies is an important goal in addressing this gap, we can immediately shift the balance in those areas contributing to subsurface and seabed warfare (SSW) through existing and proven capabilities. Collectively, the AUKUS participants can address this technological imbalance and do so at pace by leveraging commercially available vehicles, sensors, and payloads to get relevant capability into SSW warfighters’ hands.

To achieve this very near-term solution, the United States needs a comprehensive approach to navigate opportunities, overcome challenges, and reshape existing legislative frameworks to implement Pillar II.

Quantity Has a Quality All Its Own

Rightfully, the main buzz around AUKUS centers on Pillar I and the pathway to an indigenous Australian nuclear submarine. The breadth and scope of that endeavor—rolling up 75 years of the nuclear submarine ecosystem from two sovereign nations to create a brand new one in a third independent nation—is epic and without true precedent. In the case of nuclear-powered submarines, quality establishes its own quantity.

Pillar II headlines and discussions have focused on the advancement of relevant undersea technologies to push the state of the art in SSW through collaboration and mutual development of new capabilities. Implementing undeveloped, or newly developed technology and fielding at scale in useful numbers for warfighters still takes years in the US, acquisition reforms and alternative contracting methods notwithstanding. Moving up the technology readiness level (TRL) ladder is risky, time phased, and expensive.

However, in the SSW fight, small, uncrewed, autonomous vehicles, perhaps even those that are expendable or attritable, carrying a variety of sensors, and seafloor networks serving a variety of functions are available right now. Sensor systems with limited range or function deployed in significant numbers—quantity—offer meaningful options for a theater commander—a desirable quality, to be sure.

The near-term solution is to rapidly and widely implement existing commercially available technologies regardless of AUKUS nation of origin. Closing the perceived technology gap, referenced above, that was ceded over years will take years to win back. The Replicator initiative tacitly acknowledges the challenge of regaining the technology edge through its approach to rapidly deploy legions of autonomous platforms within just a couple years.

Raising the Pillar, Lowering the Flag

Commercially available technology, in use by companies in conducting energy, communications, and ocean survey operations, and by ocean science and research institutes, is highly capable and available now to support SSW mission sets. Integrating sensors and payloads into existing vehicles for military rather than commercial operations is a low risk and quick way to address Pillar II goals. Facilitating this across national AUKUS boundaries, at least in the US, requires action from Congress, the Department of State (DoS), and the Department of Defense (DoD).

Three areas present hurdles:  legislative action; modification of export controls through International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR); and management of Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI).

Legislative Action

To date, only two bills referencing AUKUS have become law and both are National Defense Authorization Acts. Several bills are in early stages in either house of congress addressing various legislative changes or authorization. No DoS authorization act has been passed in recent years and none appropriating money for AUKUS activities. Without legislation or authorization, DoS cannot make changes to ITAR rules opening the door for accelerated movement of technical information and material within the AUKUS group. Stalled initiatives, such as the Senate’s Truncating Onerous Regulations for Partners and Enhancing Deterrence Operations (TORPEDO) Act of 2023 directly address the issues and should be enacted into law directly.

Adapting Export Controls

Long-standing exemptions for Canada covering technical data transfer and enumerated items on the US Munitions List (USML) allow the free flow of Pillar II technologies. DoS can adopt this same approach with our other most trusted partners. The same language and principles can be rapidly incorporated into our ITAR. “Pre-licensing” by carving out specified exemptions in the USML will quickly allow for seamless collaboration between government, research, and commercial entities under the AUKUS umbrella. Proposed legislation in both the House and the Senate leans into DoS to make these changes.

“Controlled AUKUS” Information Category

Controlled Unclassified Information (CUI) evolved from several threads of unclassified but sensitive, often export controlled, technical and other information. Both the DoD and DoS acknowledge this is a significant hurdle. Overclassification was characterized in 2023 by the Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs as “unbelievably ridiculous” and this extends to overly controlling CUI. Further, improper markings and categorization throw sand in the gears. CUI is codified in DoD instruction but application is inconsistent and confusing and stymies what should otherwise be a smooth authorization process. Others have already suggested creating a special category to pre-clear the transfer of information within AUKUS channels. Creation of such a handling caveat may be effective in both the UK and Australia as each have their own processes for determining what is and what is not sensitive and what can be readily shared. A trilateral handling caveat could cut across the unique systems in place without having to reconcile the rules of each country.


Pillar II is moving forward within the current AUKUS ecosystem but more is needed than can be accomplished without changing that system. The need to address SSW gaps is pressing in the near term and the call for purposeful, prompt action by Congress, State, and Defense is clear.

This article was written by Captain Christian Haugen, USN (Ret.). Chris served as a US Navy submarine officer for 25 years retiring in 2010. From that time he has served as a leader and business development lead at well known companies within the defense industry.

It is an exciting time for defence industry and Australia’s undersea warfare capability. The thought of autonomous vessels surveying, communicating, detecting, and performing tasks, either on their own or with naval vessels (warships and submarines) brings a whole new level of capability for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) that only years ago seemed fictional.

With the surge of undersea capabilities currently being constructed in the Asia Pacific region, AUKUS comes at a critical time for the Royal Australian Navy and its allies.

The challenge for Australia, with its vast maritime approaches is how it dominates the underwater domain through control and denial. We are excited with the range of acoustic technology and tools that through Pillar 2, will support Australia’s ability to win the underwater battle.


Announced in September 2021, AUKUS is a defence and security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. Through both its Pillars, AUKUS provides each of its partners with the ability to share, collaborate and work together providing acceleration for various technology areas including nuclear powered submarines and other capability enhancements.

Not Just Nuclear-Powered Submarines

The first focus for AUKUS was on the nuclear submarine program under Pillar 1, cancelling all previous work on SEA1000 and cooperating with the UK and US to acquire nuclear powered submarines over conventional ones. Since the announcement, Pillar 2 has been introduced and provided other specified areas of collaboration for each of the AUKUS nations. It focuses on developing a range of capabilities over several key areas; this will not only provide the ability between AUKUS nations to accelerate these advanced capabilities, but also continue to pave the way for closer military ties and more importantly, interoperability between them. There may be opportunity for other nations to cooperate and recent announcements point to New Zealand taking an active interest.

Undersea Warfare

From Australia’s perspective, the focus areas afforded through AUKUS are critical for the future security in the Indo-Pacific region. The region has never seen a buildup of maritime forces like it is currently witnessing; these forces, both surface and subsurface, can venture anywhere that the regions oceans allow them to. It is imperative that Australia, bordered by three oceans, views its vast underwater approaches as a priority to monitor, deter and defend against undersea adversary capabilities.

The establishment of maritime undersea ranges, the ability to communicate with them via autonomous underwater vessels (AUVs), while being able to track them acoustically will be part of the undersea warfare solution for Australia.

Time Scales – the Now and the Later

Pillar 1 is set in motion, work between nations has commenced with a pathway to acquire both current US and hybrid UK versions of nuclear-powered submarines for Australia. But the acquisition will take time; the construction of nuclear-powered submarines, buildup of personnel, the training of their crews and support networks and upgrading of facilities and infrastructure will not be fully established for some time. Pillar 2 by comparison, will start immediately with work already commencing in Australia through the Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator (ASCA). ASCA will connect and streamline the defence innovation system to drive capability development and acquisition pathways at speed, and more effectively harness and coordinate the innovation ecosystem. In fact, all three nations are working towards each of the Pillar 2 capabilities through development and sharing.

These technology areas, particularly underwater, will transform the AUKUS members’ military interoperability and technology over the 2020s and through the 2030s, with the nuclear-powered submarines supplementing further deterrent capabilities when delivered.

A Changing World – Asymmetrical Capabilities

AUKUS Pillar 2 is about delivering advanced capabilities, including through technologies that can autonomously extend both the reach and range of the military. The Ukraine conflict has seen the rise of autonomous vehicles that have provided a transitional view of modern warfare, not only from the air domain, but also from land and maritime domains.

These capabilities have been highlighted in Australia’s Defence Strategic Review (DSR) as asymmetric. Capabilities like these will play an increasingly important role in the defence of Australia and its military. These asymmetrical capabilities originate not just from defence industry but from a range of industries, such as the offshore oil and gas and communications sector, that have been utilising technologies such as AUVs for decades.

The technology will be modified to carry a military payload to become force multipliers, working in concert with other AUVs, submarines or warships that will provide the RAN and Australia with valuable deterrent and surveillance technologies.

Cooperation Between Nations and Industry

While the US, UK and Australia have always been close allies, the AUKUS partnership is a technology accelerator between the governments of the three nations with a timescale and accompanying gateway of technology transfers, not seen before.

This gateway of technology transfer is not just from the military, but as previously mentioned, technology firms with high Technical Readiness Level (TRL) capabilities that have been working in industries such as oil and gas can benchmark their decades of working with autonomous vessels for defence.

With the backing of 50 years of experience in energy, ocean science and defence, Forcys Australia are introducing game changing technology through its expertise in the underwater domain with highly sophisticated, TRL9, – agnostic payloads for platforms. Through our technology partners, Forcys specialise in autonomous vessel payloads, acoustic underwater communications, sonars and camera capabilities, providing the benchmark for future AUVs and remotely operated asymmetrical capabilities.

In addition to the above, Forcys expertise in intruder detection sonars, command and control software and remotely operated towed vehicles, environmental sensors and laser scanners already provides world leading capabilities deployed with many navies around the globe.

Industry proven technology can help to rapidly accelerate Pillar 2 delivery

Forcys Australia are already supplying sensors to the RAN, Defence Science Technology Group (DSTG) and key industry stakeholders, we’re especially excited about the opportunities for Forcys with AUKUS Pillar 2 undersea warfare. Our capabilities are not just limited to asymmetric warfare; they can be utilised for underwater ranges, long range acoustic communications, MCM, along with tracking and protection of critical national infrastructure.

If you’d like to hear more about our vision for the AUKUS partnership, contact us for more information.

Sean Leydon retired from the Royal Australian Navy in 2020. Trained as an engineer, Sean completed an MBA as well as Masters degrees in both Strategy and Management and Maritime Studies.

Forcys brings together leading technologies, offering a comprehensive naval and subsea capability to the world defence market

Forcys is excited to announce further expansion across its global operations, adding to its team of experts dedicated to equipping navies with the most advanced underwater solutions, and establishing a US entity. We’re committed to working alongside you and your supply chain to elevate your lethality and situational awareness in the critical undersea domain.

Counting on a legacy built over five decades, Forcys’ technology offer is trusted by navies worldwide. We provide a unique range of remote, autonomous, and networked control capabilities that deliver integrated underwater intelligence for every mission.

In a significant move, Dan Zatezalo joins Forcys as General Manager for Forcys Inc. and Head of Global Sales. Dan was responsible for US DoD sales at sister company Sonardyne Inc. delivering continued growth. At Forcys he will look to instil the same customer led culture. “I’m excited to take on the new role. I cherish the responsibility that comes from supporting our customers at a time when new technology challenges the way we have been acting”.

Covering a range of maritime operations including asset protection, littoral strike, mine warfare, submarine rescue, and submarine and anti-submarine warfare, Forcys seeks to transform the underwater domain by enabling increasingly distributed and automated operations. This is made possible by integrating and bringing to market world-changing solutions from leading technology partners Chelsea Technologies, EIVA, Sonardyne, Voyis, and Wavefront Systems.

Ioseba Tena, Commercial Director, “Since we launched Forcys eighteen months ago, the underwater domain has continued to receive unprecedented levels of interest. It’s no longer a question of when autonomous systems will become a factor. It’s now a question of what we do to counter them. It’s time for original responses to novel threats. Time to create our own fleets of systems and counter measures. At Forcys we are ready to spearhead the delivery of situational awareness sensors and software to support this transition. It’s an exciting time for our team and we are looking forward to supporting our global customer base.”