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Forcys will be exhibiting at the Naval Defence & Maritime Security Exhibition (NAVDEX) on the 20th to the 24th of February at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre in the United Arab Emirates. Showcasing the world’s most deployed intruder detection system: Sentinel from our technology partner Wavefront Systems. Forcys will also be there to promote capability from Chelsea Technologies, EIVA, Sonardyne and Voyis.

If you have to operate side-scan sonars and synthetic aperture sonars (SAS) in very shallow waters (VSW) or shallow waters (SW), the acoustic environment is particularly hostile. Higher order multi-path reverberation, unstable velocity of sound profiles, often unknown, as well as significant bathymetry, baseline decorrelation effects and generally far fewer stable platforms, all add up. The result is far less reliable end sonar products with greater impact to longer range systems. This is particularly acute in tidal and riverine environments. What to do?

Go back to the drawing board

When Solstice was developed in 2010, our technology partner Wavefront Systems decided it was time for a step up in the performance of traditional side-scan sonars. The aim was to deliver a high-frequency, high-resolution, and long-range sonar that would provide a marked improvement in the probability of detection of mine-like objects while minimising the probability of false alarms.

Solstice was designed to do just that. Step one was to design a multi-aperture array which would improve the signal-to-noise ratio extending the range over other sonars operating at the same frequency. However, longer ranges in shallow waters are susceptible to multi-path reverberation. Dr Rob Crook, Research Director at Wavefront Systems explains how Solstice overcomes this problem: “The dominant source of noise for all side-scan sonars operating in shallow waters is ‘multi-path’ reverberation. The nature of this noise means many acoustic pathways scattering from spatially unrelated regions of the underwater scene may none-the-less return to the sensor with identical flight-times. The inability of any ‘2D’ (range, bearing) sensor to discriminate between these contemporaneous pathways leads to an inevitable loss of contrast. Multi-path Suppression Array Technology (MSAT) is a physical array-based technology that offers the swathe coverage one would traditionally have associated with wide elevation beam-widths, with the shadow contrast associated with very narrow beams. MSAT allows high shadow contrast right out to the maximum range of the sensor whilst maintaining high quality imagery close to nadir.” Why is contrast important? It helps to differentiate targets from the surroundings.

In addition, Solstice implements dynamic focusing ensuring that the image will maintain the highest possible resolution at the position in space relative to the sensor, meaning that the resolution will improve as the range to the target decreases. While at longer ranges the interpolated real-time imagery drastically aids human visual perception.

What does it all mean?

The design choices lead to significant advantages for Solstice users. These are some examples of where Solstice excels.

22 m47 m72 m92 m
Lobster pots (approximate dimensions 800 mm x 400 mm) observed at different ranges using Solstice (Image courtesy of GDMS)

Please contact us to find out more.

Join us at the Undersea Defence Technology (UDT) on the 9th to the 11th of May in Rostock, Germany. UDT is the largest global event dedicated to the undersea defense industry, a multi-faceted exhibition and conference reflecting the community’s desire for continuous learning and development. 

We are saddened by the death of Queen Elizabeth II. She has been an inspiration to many of us through her service and dedication to the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth. We would also like to extend our condolences to the Royal Family.

Leading navies are focused on technological innovation, but it is time to outpace the rate of technological change. It is time to go further than partnerships. In this article Ioseba Tena, Commercial Director at Forcys, challenges navies to go further than ever before.

In the past, the introduction of new naval technologies has been driven and dictated by navies themselves according to changing mission requirements and their understanding of the technology available. But within the evolving threat landscape, navies are starting to embrace the incessant pace of technological change by sharing more with industry. This sharing is essential if you need to develop and leverage new technologies to address present and future threats. 

Evolving threats

Threats are swiftly evolving, unpredictable and varied. Traditionally, drones were largely confined to the aerial domain. Now, unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) threats are evolving rapidly. You must quickly develop and integrate the technologies and expertise to protect crews, vessels and critical infrastructure.

The common causes of protecting people from attack and the environment from disaster unite academics and navies. While there is some collaboration, the two communities often operate separately. Academia can be tasked to drive focused innovation, but these institutions are neither motivated nor incentivised to fund the production of fully formed security solutions. That means involving defence suppliers at the earliest possible stage in concept discussions. The best innovation will come from a well-grounded understanding of the size and scale of the challenges. Project risk, which invariably manifests itself as increased costs and time, could be reduced by inviting industry to embark in vessels to see the operational challenges first hand (a way perhaps to break the old cliché of waiting too long and then not getting what you actually needed!)

In the underwater domain, identifying, classifying and neutralising threats poses numerous challenges, largely because contacts underwater are notoriously difficult to evaluate. Intruder detection is difficult due to poor visibility, variable terrain, noise and the presence of other objects in the water such as marine life or debris. It’s no longer just large, manned, submarine platforms either; the threat could come from combat divers who are small and very quiet, or UUVs which are faster and therefore difficult to track.

Partnerships

It’s for this reason that naval forces cannot be islands. To gain a battle-winning advantage and neutralise threats, whether from the air or the sea, collaboration across industry, government enterprise and academia is a recognised necessity. Together we need to work towards a capability ecosystem that supports and promotes the swift and successful development of new technologies, enabling us to stay ahead of emerging threats and maintain operational advantage. This ecosystem goes beyond a narrowly-defined partnership. Industry, academia and navies must learn to communicate, innovate and learn from each other in order to ensure that forces on the front line have the necessary capabilities to carry out safe, successful operations.

Did you know that Forcys is the result of partnership between leading instrument vendors in the underwater domain? That’s why we understand that the ecosystem described above is key to the success of technology innovation. Our technology partners already have a strong legacy of working with industry, academia and government organisations. We continue to proactively look to forge relationships with academia to deliver the solutions to meet your needs, on time and on budget. Forcys and our technology partners can leverage university resources and insights to inform the next generation of technology, products and services for its customers.

For example, our technology partner Sonardyne is currently collaborating with Newcastle University on a new open standard in underwater communications. The standard, named Phorcys and funded by the Defence Science and Technology Laboratory, is a high-integrity secure waveform for underwater acoustic communications. Another good example is the collaboration between our technology partner Voyis and McGill University. They are producing a new generation of optical processing techniques for illuminating the underwater domain. Both projects have been primed with knowledge and experience from the commercial sector. The latest step is applying the technology to naval applications. At which point you will be able to find off-the-shelf technologies that meet naval capability requirements.

Government agencies and navies are increasingly recognising the importance of secure, open standards to begin using commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) components. As you know it’s critical to minimise project risk. How? By applying extensive knowledge and expertise in underwater communication and location technologies. Our technology partners have been at the heart of no-fail delivery for commercial customers for over 50 years. This means we have the expertise to deliver allied forces the interoperability needed to conduct successful operations at home and overseas.

At Forcys we are interested in talking to anyone who would like to be part of an ecosystem driving naval technology innovation. We want to create the best defence systems in the world. Invite us to see the problem and discuss your needs.

Please contact us to find out more.

In brief

Just because your expeditionary forces operate small Autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) systems, it doesn’t mean they should not be ambitious as to which payloads to carry. When deploying from a Rhib or other confined spaces, then low-logistic one-person operated instruments are a necessity. This requirement has seen the proliferation of small AUVs. In January of 2022 a number of this units manufactured by OceanScan-MST were delivered to Denmark’s Frederikshavn naval base. Though the AUVs are small, their payload requirements weren’t.

The challenge

The customer wanted to equip these AUVs with the latest generation of 4K digital stills cameras and 3D lasers. Fitting the equipment to an AUV already packed with sonar payloads and other navigation instruments is challenging. Fortunately our technology partner Voyis and their next generation optical systems were at hand. They had to work closely with OceanScan-MST to understand the constrains and develop the right mechanical design to integrate the popular Recon LS System.

The solution

The solution was to develop an OEM version of the Recon LS where each of the components was delivered and carefully integrated to the AUV. The integration to the platform is of paramount importance as the product has been very carefully designed to optimally illuminate the scene.

The result

The Light Autonomous Underwater Vehicle (LAUV) supplied by OceanScan-MST were equipped with an identification capability enabling each of the AUVs to search for contacts with the combined sonar and laser pair and enabling re-acquisition with the same AUV. This means improved probability of detections, increased area-coverage-rates and mission tempo and imaging with an amazing fidelity to support other missions beyond mine countermeasures.

If you would like to know how Forcys and its technology partners can support your expeditionary needs please do not hesitate to get in touch.

In brief

One person-portable remotely operated vehicle (ROV) systems are increasingly being counted on to deliver support to expeditionary forces conducting underwater operations. Used to inspect and to help deploy payloads at significant depths, combat and EOD divers can count on these ROVs to provide intelligence ahead of a dive. Now packed with automation features, new generation micro ROVs have become precise inspection tools.

The challenge

Your warfighters are increasingly being relied upon to deploy, operate, and maintain complex tools in support of their operations. Diving teams have it harder than most as they need to deploy these tools underwater against currents, with low visibility and poor positioning references.

The solution

Developed by our technology partner EIVA, NaviSuite Mobula is a complete ROV software package with many advanced features for automatically and efficiently planning and performing ROV inspections, as well as enabling powerful data processing so operators can easily create high-quality, comprehensive data deliverables. Fully integrated from the factory with Defender ROVs from VideoRay, it provides your warfighters with a simple to use fly-by-wire control system. It delivers faster re-acquisitions and better data from which to make decisions.

The result

Combining NaviSuite Mobula with a micro ROV makes controlling the ROV a simple task. You can configure the user interface to suit your preferences. Flying the ROV is simple, simply drop a waypoint or select a set distance and direction and the ROV will automatically fly to that location. Use 2D, 3D and 4D model visualisations to improve your situational awareness. It’s also equipped with automatic sonar data cleaning and navigation processing tools that deliver improve your deliverables. In addition, it’s capable of generating fly-by videos or 3D visualisations to support your reporting and decision making. NaviSuite Mobula delivers actionable results enabling your warfighters to focus on information and not the process of acquiring it.

Intuitive user interfaces make operations more effective.

Forcys can enhance your experience with other innovative, advanced tools such as wireless acoustic initiation triggers, inertial navigation systems or optical systems from our technology partners at Sonardyne and Voyis. We can also support your autonomy programme with the integration of automatic target recognition using NaviSuite Deep Learning, or VSLAM computer vision, which lets you create 3D models using a single camera.

ROV trajectory with VSLAM map superimposed.

NaviSuite Mobula supports Defender ROV users, but it you would like to consider this innovative system to enhance a different platform please contact us.

We look forward to helping you with your requirement.

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

Forcys brings to market world-changing solutions from leading technology partners Chelsea Technologies, EIVA, Sonardyne, Voyis and Wavefront. Backed by over fifty years of experience, Forcys offers the global maritime defence sector, remote, autonomous and networked control capabilities that deliver integrated situational awareness to customers in the underwater domain.

Covering a range of maritime operations including asset protection, littoral strike, mine warfare, submarine rescue, and submarine and anti-submarine warfare, Forcys draws on the extensive experience and expertise from across its technology partners to offer a comprehensive capability to the market.

Commenting on the launch, Ioseba Tena, Commercial Director of Forcys, said:

‘Our technology partners have a strong and proven pedigree in the undersea domain, one that offers trusted capabilities to our customers. In bringing these services and technologies together under Forcys, we are not simply providing technologies that address the challenge our customers face today, but ensuring they are able to meet the operational requirements of tomorrow with comprehensive, integrated solutions.’

Forcys will continue to support customers with full lifecycle management in meeting mission requirements, including integrated solutions, consultancy, concept and assessment, customised project management and integrated logistics, to help them meet capability requirements efficiently whilst minimising risk.

Justin Hains MBE, Business Development Manager for Forcys, explains:

‘By combining our extensive experience and expertise, we are creating an ecosystem for sharing knowledge and insights with our technology partners, helping us to meet our customers’ operational needs, now and in the future. This not only enhances our ability to offer the best possible solutions to the market, it creates a more efficient and more cost-effective engagement for our customers.’

Forcys is exhibiting at the Undersea Defence Technology exhibition at the Rotterdam Ahoy between 7th and 9th June 2022 at stand C6. If you’d like to arrange a meeting with the Forcys team, please get in touch.  

A sea change in naval underwater technology

In brief

Our technology partners were challenged to deliver a step up in mine-hunting performance by combining existing commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) instruments from within the existing product portfolio. The result was Equinox, a remotely operated towed vehicle capable of improved detection and localisation of mine-like objects.

The challenge

To deliver safe and effective mine countermeasures (MCM) operations, navies are increasingly looking to replace or enhance their MCM fleets with uncrewed systems. Deploying multiple smaller, uncrewed platforms should also deliver higher area coverage rates. However, the resulting solutions are often bespoke, difficult to operate and complex to support.

The solution – Equinox

Our technology partners came together and re-imagined what could be done using standard COTS. Wavefront Systems provided Solstice, a multi-aperture sonar specifically designed for mine-hunting operation in the littoral. Solstice was mounted on EIVA’s ScanFish 3D system, a stable ROTV platform capable of following the seabed at a known altitude. The combination can deliver imagery typically only achievable from an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV). Integrating Sonardyne’s SPRINT INS and Mini-Ranger 2 USBL ensured that all mine-like objects could be accurately localised. EIVA’s NaviSuite Kuda was used to plan the survey lines, to monitor the mission and fuse as well as process the data. This software also provides an over-the-horizon control interface. With Equinox you can process contacts in real-time and use them to inform the next stage of the mission while the survey is taking place, allowing you to carry out MCM operations with increased lethality.

Equinox sea trials

The results

Extensive trials have taken place to test the detection capabilities and navigation accuracy achieved through the combination of these instruments. The trials demonstrated that Equinox detects mine-like objects across the whole 200 m swath at a top speed exceeding 6 knots (an effective area coverage rate of 1.6 km2/hr even when accounting for the inevitable overlap from survey lines to cover the gap). The absolute position was found to be better than 1 m (DRMS). This performance is a step up when compared to other side-scan solutions and compares closely to that of synthetic aperture sonar systems that require much more complex logistics. The combination of COTS products is a critical advantage over competing systems, Equinox’s component parts are field proven through thousands of mobilisations. A low-logistics footprint ensures simple and rapid mobilisations. Each building-block is simple to support and has low maintenance requirements. Another added benefit is that it feeds on existing, proven training courses and there is already a large community of existing users.

Equinox delivers high resolution imagery and class-leading positioning

Please contact us to find out more about Forcys’ extensive range of interoperable subsea capabilities.

Held from the 23rd to the 25th of May 2023 in Farnborough, United Kingdom, this event holds the popular underwater defence and security conference.

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