Contact Us

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.”

Doctrinally, the concept of amphibious operations has followed a deliberate linear approach from planning to termination with the landing force only entering the area of operations once rehearsal and re-embarkation have been completed to suit the requirements of the planned mission. As an example, the Royal Navy plans to deploy two Littoral Strike Groups (LSG) on a permanent basis, to extend the UK’s presence, insight, and influence globally. The most likely operating areas are the Indo-Pacific and North Atlantic Oceans. The forces are far more likely to be operating in the eventual amphibious operating area before an operation is conducted. In our view, the familiar acronym PERMSAT (Planning, Embarkation, Rehearsal, Manoeuvre, Shaping, Action, Termination) will be compressed to chronologically and geographically to three broad activities: persistent presence and posture; concentration of amphibious force, action and termination. But they will overlap and compete for resources and space. So how could the LSG maintain its situational awareness (and a degree of presence) while it must depart a littoral zone to reorganise and rehearse?  

Advance force and pre-landing operations are predominantly covert in nature and sequenced as close or coordinated with the assault to minimise the resource and logistic burden and maintain the advantage of surprise.  

Operational choices 

Vessels operating on the surface are vulnerable and can disclose favoured channels or operating areas. Crewed Mine Countermeasures Vessels (MCMVs) require additional tailored defensive support if operating within enemy engagement range. Even uncrewed surface assets can be targeted by coastal defence missile and artillery systems which must be neutralised before assets are committed close to land. As swarm attacks by surface and air drones become more accurate and lethal, it is conceivable that surface assets will only be used once the landing force has committed to its area of operations and even then, at increased risk of destruction by enemy action.  

So how does a pre-deployed LSG prepare itself for an assault when it is already in or close to its operating area? If stores and vehicles need to be reorganised from efficient and safe storage to assault order, the amphibious force will need to leave the littoral zone at the very time that it is looking to increase situational awareness. Meanwhile any advance force, pre-landing or MCM activity must operate without the need for additional defensive capabilities and without advertising the amphibious operating area geometry. The use of surface assets for low-risk deception only is a soft option that negates the need for adequate organic protection capability within the LSG design. The deduction is simple, mitigate for a denied or contested surface environment by augmenting sub-surface capabilities: the underwater domain is more covert and, for the time being at least, more survivable. 

Technical options 

Uncrewed, autonomous systems could be left behind to continue intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR) and MCM “tasking, and potentially as the senor-decider-effector chain is established they could contribute to area denial, pending the return of the amphibious force. 

These assets could be mobile – either crawling or swimming before settling again to conserve power, to keep pace with the changing requirements of the littoral strike group and frustrate counter measures by the enemy. As the LSG achieves its objective and moves closer to sustain itself for as long as required, these assets could provide the seaward sensor/defensive screen or move with the task group to maintain a positioning network independent from GPS. 

The sense-decide-effect system of system of systems will rely on a robust secure underwater communication network. In our vision exploiting the technology carried by each of the previously mentioned self-propelled nodes and vehicles. 

Proven Capabilities 

Our technology partners have over 50 years’ experience in the offshore energy sectors. Integration and testing in the amphibious context is the next step. Integration of acoustic array technology could maintain the force’s level of situational awareness. This technology is well understood and used extensively in the energy sector. Pre-positioned and pre-surveyed transponders can already provide centimetre accurate positioning independent of GNSS input. Sensor agnostic seabed nodes are already available, integration with acoustic, seismic, magnetic sensors is low risk and achievable within a very short time frame. Acoustic and optical communications options can support data transfers at speeds up to 1Gb/s depending on range. 

Seabed nodes being deployed.

Forcys is ready to help you now. Early engagement is needed to help solve the challenges the future operating space presents. We can use indicative blocks of proven technology to show you how our technology can help.

If you’d like to hear more about our vision of amphibious warfare in the future or think we could deliver some of these capabilities in partnership, contact us for more information. 

Justin Hains MBE left the Royal Navy in 2020. Among other professional qualifications, he completed the Advanced Mine Warfare Course and the Amphibious Operations Planning Course during a career as a Mine Warfare Clearance Diving Officer and Principal Warfare Officer (Underwater). 

The ViperFish is an all-in-one compact remotely operated towed vehicle (ROTV) ideally suited for expeditionary mine countermeasures (MCM) and explosive ordnance disposal (EOD) surveys. Martin Kristensen, VP of Hardware Development at our technology partner EIVA, explains all in this edition of The Watch.

“The ViperFish is a new surveying platform that we developed to address the growing demand for unexploded ordnance (UXO) surveying in the offshore wind industry,” said Kristensen. “It is a versatile and easy-to-use system that can be deployed from a vessel of opportunity. Expeditionary MCM survey requirements are very similar so navies can benefit from all our commercial experience to make their surveys far more efficient.”

Experience where it counts

“We wanted to incorporate all the lessons we learned from building and operating the ScanFish ROTV, the industry’s leading UXO survey platform, into the design of the ViperFish, creating a UXO surveying platform optimised to meet the demands of our customers. These include increasingly efficient surveys and where possible these needed to be automated. To support an increasing volume of surveys, new ROTVs needed to be compact, easy to launch and recover from a variety of vessels, including uncrewed surface vessels (USVs), and equipped with class-leading payloads and navigation sensors.

The system is built using the same building blocks as the ScanFish, enabling us to leverage all that experience. The first obvious difference between the ViperFish and the ScanFish is the shape. The ViperFish is cylindrical with actuated fins, while the ScanFish is shaped like an airfoil. The new system is as manoeuvrable, but the difference in shape offers a number of benefits:

It’s not just the platform. It’s the whole system. We conducted significant research to minimise the cable drag. By doing this, we can operate with smaller winches and deploy from a smaller surface area. We offer two shipment options: a self-contained cradle-box that can be shipped everywhere, or a container ready to integrate into a vessel.

It’s taken some time, but one of the most memorable things about the ViperFish is the first time we put it in the water,” said Kristensen. “On our first prototype test, we were out sailing 3 days and we had 100% uptime on the system. It was really a relief and a joy to see that all of our hard work had paid off.”

Screenshot showing the captured sonar data

All the payloads

The ViperFish is equipped with all the sensors typically required on an ROTV, including:

The integration of these sensors into the ViperFish ROTV makes it a versatile and efficient UXO surveying platform. The ViperFish can be used to conduct surveys in a variety of conditions, and it can detect a wide range of objects.

Low-logistics, simple to operate, quick to train

“The ViperFish is operated by a crew of two people. The survey plans are prepared beforehand using NaviSuite Kuda software from EIVA. When launching the system, one person is responsible for supervising the ViperFish, while the other person controls the crane. At a speed through water of 2 to 10 knots, once in the water the ViperFish automatic controls take over, quickly swimming to the appropriate height from the seafloor within less than a minute. When the system is deployed one person is responsible for monitoring the automated mission while operating the ViperFish’s sensors and collecting data. If the ViperFish detects a possible UXO, the crew can mark the location on a map. The crew can then return to the location at a later time to investigate further. The system follows the seabed at a fixed height and can cope with slopes of up to 45 degrees. Plus it can replan its mission if obstacles are detected and avoid them in a safe manner while still obtaining high-quality data. When the mission is completed, the ViperFish is recovered by the two-person crew. We are also in discussions with USV manufacturers to make the launch and recovery totally automated.”

“The system is relatively easy to operate, even for people who are not trained hydrographers. The whole training process can be completed in a couple of weeks, it is mostly focused on learning how to set up the system and how to operate the sensors. If the crew is already experienced with using autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) systems or the ScanFish, the training process will be a couple of days at most. Since the user interface of NaviSuite Kuda, EIVA’s survey software, is used widely in the commercial sector, there is already a large pool of contractors and trainers ready to support operations. In addition, sailors will be gaining valuable skills to support their transition to the commercial sector.”

Actionable data

“Ultimately, it’s about delivering our customers the best data, and you’ll be surprised how challenging it is to get these many payloads into the right form factor. But it has been worth it. We offer an incredible amount of area coverage rate of actual actionable data using class leading sensors.”

Please contact us to find out more.

In this edition of The Watch, we talked with Simon Goldsworthy, Global Business Development Manager at our technology partner Wavefront Systems, about the latest advances in intruder detection technology.

The current conflict in Ukraine has highlighted the disruptive effect of drones. It’s shown that a rogue squadron of uncrewed systems can pose an asymmetric challenge to any harbour or ship. In the right hands, the damage can be significant. To date, airborne drones and uncrewed surface vessels have shown their ability to penetrate conventional defences. Though difficult to counter, they are anything but covert. Sinking below the water’s surface, the autonomous or unmanned underwater vehicle, takes advantage of the waters cloaking to pose a much more significant threat. Programmed from afar, these systems can follow a predetermined course and remain underwater for long periods, making them invisible to radars and optical systems. Though more complex to manufacture, their proliferation and availability over the last decade makes them a viable threat accessible to many near-peer adversaries. As of today, it is relatively simple to program a flight path and equip the drones with multiple payloads, each presenting a different threat.

Needle in a haystack

When detecting targets underwater, the technology of choice is sonar: sound waves are transmitted through the water and the reflections from targets can be used to detect and track them. Underwater drones, also known as autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV) systems or uncrewed underwater vehicle (UUV) systems, are challenging for sonar operators as they present a relatively small target. In a confined environment where the sound reflects from the seafloor, the sea surface or harbour walls and travels at different speeds through changing water column temperatures, the ability to detect these vehicles is no simple feat.

Our technology partners, Wavefront Systems, know how difficult this challenge is, they manufacture the world’s most deployed intruder detection sonar, Sentinel. This system was developed to detect and alarm when divers approach. Although divers are a challenging target, their speed, pattern of movement and equipment works against them. This weakness is exploited by Sentinel to keep customers safe across a myriad of environments whilst deployed from ships, on the side of a dam wall, on a seabed mounting or by expeditionary teams from RHIBs.

However, when Wavefront first looked at an AUV signature they realised a new challenge had emerged. AUV’s and UUV’s have much smaller noise signatures, can present a smaller target and travel at greater speed. Sentinel has always excelled at finding the needle in the haystack but with underwater drones, it was difficult to detect and then keep track of them at the ranges which we had become accustomed to when tracking divers.

Feel the noise

“Our R&D team are never happier than when they have a new challenge to defeat”, Goldsworthy recalls, “At the speed which AUV technology was being developed, we knew they were clearly going to become a threat to our customer base. Fortunately for us, AUV’s and UUV’s are machines with mechanical parts which is unfortunate for them, as we can listen out for their telltale systemic noise. We filed for a patent to enable us to combine Simultaneous In-band Active and Passive Sonar to track underwater targets, a technology we refer to as SInAPS®. That’s the story behind Sentinel 2. The results have been better than we ever hoped for.”

Early trials against one-person portable targets proved successful.

Merging active data returns, with the passive track provides a substantial performance improvement, especially so when active returns are weak and infrequent. We conducted early trials against one-person portable UUV’s which demonstrated the capability. Since that time, several trials have been conducted against different UUV’s of varying sizes and mechanical construction. Sentinel 2 can find more drones with small to medium vehicles commonly detected at distances of over 500 m. This means more time in which to plan your response.

Simple to operate

“Say you’d like to protect a vessel alongside, the Sentinel sonar head can be deployed on a tripod from the vessel itself, from a RIB or other small boat. The sonar system is lightweight and portable, weighing less than 35 kg. It can be connected to a topside portable computer system to run the user interface. In addition, sonar performance indicator (SPI) software allows the operator to take a local environment probe of the seawater to assess the expected perimeter of protection of the Sentinel wherever it is being operated.” Goldsworthy also said, “The Sentinel sonar system can also be deployed by cable, without a tripod. We provide a weighted plate that can be fitted to the bottom of the sonar to maximise its stability in the water. No calibration is needed. It can be turned on and used instantly, giving the operator an immediate view of their surroundings.”

Reporting to your chain of command

“Sentinel offers a user-friendly interface designed for non-sonar operators to use. It can be set up to show all detections within the sonar range or to show only the critical threats. The information is colour coded and an audible alarm is triggered for the end client. The system is automated and can output to leading command-and-control systems through simple application programming interface.” Goldsworthy adds,” Consider this: the sonar system generates thousands of signals from the sea floor, rocks, other vessels, pier legs and anything else in the underwater environment. Sentinel then uses active and passive detection algorithms to filter out the signals that are not from divers, subsea vehicles, or AUV’s. The remaining signals are then classified as critical or non-critical for the end user. With now fifteen years of experience delivering the world’s most deployed intruder detection sonar, we understand how important it is to report the correct data.”

Every ship can be equipped with the means to counter underwater drones today

“We have trained hundreds of users and are able to accommodate different levels of ability. From maintenance to operations, we can cater for multiple trainees and all we want from your team is a handful of days. We can even train your trainers if required.”

Please contact Forcys to find out more.

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

The release of Australia’s Defence Strategic Review pivots national defence interests toward the Indo-Pacific and places increased interest in the underwater domain. It calls out for new autonomous underwater vehicles to support their mission by highlighting the AUKUS Pillar 2 collaboration and seeks to work in close partnership with industry. It serves as validation for the recent expansion by Forcys Australia: new offices and a new team to work with customers that are already developing innovative underwater autonomous systems.

Backed by over fifty years of experience, Forcys offers the global maritime naval sector remote, autonomous, and networked control capabilities delivering 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 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.

‘This feels great,’ said Sean Leydon, Regional Manager Asia Pacific at Forcys. ‘Although we are taking a relatively small initial step, this is a major milestone for our operations in Australia. And we are setting up in the right location. We are so grateful to the NSW government who supported us in our search. We also want to thank the University of Technology Sydney for their welcome. Innovation is fuelled by partnerships and the UTS Tech Lab enables us to work closer both with our customers and with academia. The lab is turning into a world-class research and development facility. I want our new Australian team to play a part in that.’

‘We are delighted to welcome Forcys Australia as an Industry Partner to the UTS Tech Lab,” said Professor Robert Fitch, (acting) Director UTS Tech Lab. “It’s a clear example of how we are supporting industry partners with the growth and retention of talent. Working alongside innovators in the underwater domain is also a great opportunity for the university to target our research where it is needed such us the AUKUS Pillar 2 Undersea Robotics Autonomous Systems (AURAS) project.”

If you are visiting Sydney please get in touch with our team.

The Watch interviewed CMDR Sean Leydon (retired), Regional Manager at Forcys Australia, on the subject of the latest ADF Defence Strategy Review (DSR). The DSR sets out the Australian Government’s strategic direction for defence over the next decade.

Leydon clearly understands the significance of the DSR: “It is clear that the Government is committed to investing in new and innovative technologies, and that the maritime domain will be a key focus of this investment. There are a number of reasons for this. First, the Indo-Pacific maritime domain is becoming increasingly contested, and there is a growing risk of conflict. Second, the maritime domain is critical to Australia’s economic security. Australia is a major exporter of resources, and the maritime domain is essential for the safe and efficient movement of these resources.”

The DSR identifies a number of key areas where Australia needs to invest in order to strengthen its maritime capabilities. These include:

According to Leydon: “The investments that are made in the coming years will have a major impact on Australia’s ability to protect its interests in the maritime domain.”

AUKUS and Pillar 2

AUKUS is a new trilateral security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States. It was announced in September 2021, and its primary goal is to strengthen the three countries’ ability to operate in the Indo-Pacific region. Pillar 2 of AUKUS is focused on key capabilities including undersea warfare. It will involve the three countries working together to develop new and innovative technologies, such as autonomous underwater vehicles. These technologies will be used to improve the three countries’ ability to detect, track, and defeat submarines.

Leydon understands that the importance of undersea warfare cannot be overstated. According to him: ”Submarines are a major threat to surface ships and aircraft. They are also a key asset for countries that are seeking to project power in the maritime domain. The development of new and innovative technologies is essential for maintaining a strong undersea warfare capability and integral to the DSR. AUKUS Pillar 2 will help the three countries to do just that. Under AUKUS Pillar 2 the Undersea Robotics Autonomous Systems (AURAS) project, will pave the way for underwater networks consisting of crewed and uncrewed vessels, or also a networked underwater range enabling the navy to share information and coordinate actions between their vessels. This would allow the Navy to operate more effectively and efficiently and would give it a significant advantage over adversaries.

Leydon continues: ”As you know, uncrewed systems are playing an increasingly important role in maritime warfare. They can be used for a variety of tasks, including surveillance, reconnaissance, and strike. As the maritime domain becomes increasingly contested, uncrewed systems will become even more important. Why is that? Consider this:

However, uncrewed systems are not a replacement for crewed systems, they play a complementary role. By working together, crewed and uncrewed systems can provide a more comprehensive and effective maritime warfare capability.”

While the uncrewed systems are attracting a lot of attention, the payloads cannot be underestimated. Leydon explains: “The sensors and effectors provide the capability, the platform delivers it. It’s as simple as that.”

“Obviously, it’s important that the design of the platform meets the overall purpose of the capability, that it’s fit for its purpose, such as a frigate for a medium sized, smaller armed, fast platform compared with a larger destroyer designed for a greater armament.

The same goes for an AUV – it’s important that the payload is not only high quality (such as a multi-Aperture sonar, high quality camera or laser), but its navigation, communications and tracking systems are also high quality and precise allowing it to go where it’s supposed to and find its way back. Ideally, you want both the sensors and platforms to be built using modular designs – this allows for smoother integration of the sensors and makes future upgrades more feasible.

In other cases, a designed platform isn’t even needed. For example, the dropping or strategic placement of underwater sensors will provide you with an acoustic range that can detect an adversary’s AUV, submarine or underwater vehicle.”

The right payloads improve our situational awareness. In this image Voyis RECON modules capture an object of interest.

Joining Forcys

Sean recently joined Forcys and is spearheading our Australian efforts, “I think Australia and its UK and US partners have a lot to gain from AUKUS and the technological transfer of capabilities that already exist. The DSR specifically speaks about the Pillar 2 ‘Trilateral delivery’ or joint R&D of enhanced capabilities, this collaboration with companies like Forcys will help provide the ability for all three nations to move forward with information sharing and technology cooperation. I’m especially excited about the opportunities for Forcys with AUKUS Pillar 2 undersea warfare – from the underwater acoustic communication network in Smart Sound Plymouth from our Technology Partners Sonardyne, the world leading intruder detection sonars from Wavefront already deployed with navies around the globe and to our AUV payloads. These are just some of the amazing proven capabilities that Forcys offer.”

Want to find out more or speak to Sean Leydon? Please get in touch.

The Watch recently discussed the Royal Navy’s littoral strike capability with Justin Hains MBE, a former Royal Navy officer and current Business Development Manager for Forcys. The Royal Navy has a significant capability to strike land targets thanks to its two Queen Elizabeth-class aircraft carriers, which are together capable of carrying up to 80 aircraft, including F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters. The carriers are also supported by a range of other vessels, including destroyers, frigates, logistic support ships and submarines.

Hains believes that the Royal Navy has an advanced littoral strike capability. He said: “You need to understand that the capability is absolutely there. The core of power projection is the two carriers and then everything builds from them. There’s a submarine capability to defend the carrier, and there’s a hydrographic and mine countermeasures capability to enable the carrier freedom of navigation so that the carriers can get to where they need to operate. The escorts provide a defensive screen and an ability to distribute the force in smaller packages as required. This capability has been many years in the planning and recent geopolitical events, if anything, further validate the Royal Navy’s approach”.

In addition to the Queen Elizabeth-class carriers, the Royal Navy is also investing in a range of other capabilities that will support littoral strike operations. These include:

Innovation where it is needed

Hains points out: “These strategic decisions ensure that the Royal Navy has a strong littoral strike capability for many years to come. However, the renewed threat of near-peer adversaries is more real than ever before. To meet this challenge, the Royal Navy is going to need to adapt its capabilities and strategies. The focus on littoral strike is a big step in the right direction. The navy now needs to invest in new technologies to complement its existing assets. Investment in uncrewed systems increases our surveillance range and improves our strike capability. Techniques like machine learning (ML) will be used to automate tasks and make decisions in real time.” But it’s not just technology. “In addition to investing in new technologies, the Royal Navy will also need to adapt its operational concepts. The navy will need to be able to operate more flexibly and at higher tempo. It will need to adapt to the foe and generate a response by selecting the right mix. At times the navy will operate in smaller, more distributed units. At times it will resort to conventional weaponry. At all times the Royal Navy will need to work closer with its allies and partners”.

According to Hains, if navies are going to defeat the emergent threats, then they need to be successful in fielding new technologies: “We need to deliver innovative solutions to put in front of the navy in a very rapid way. If you ask me, I think we’re getting there but to be honest the procurement process is still playing catch-up. Many initiatives are supporting rapid innovation and encouraging war fighters to be involved in their development from early stages. At Forcys, we are clutched into all of that, and we are part of the ongoing discussion. However, we recognise that defence as a whole will always have a problem with annualised budgets. These make it very difficult to launch multi-year projects. I know this is being worked on. And I accept that the commercial teams in front line commands can only change as fast as the next level allows them, but we need to feed back to defence to help them be as flexible in procuring innovation as they are when it comes to field it. You are going to see industry and defence working together and needing to be ready to take calculated risks.”

Dominance in the underwater domain will be critical to enable the littoral strike capability. As Hains explains: “It all comes down to the use of use of asymmetric force. You’re trying to get the most effect for the least resource you apply your strengths against your enemy’s weaknesses. In the underwater domain this arms race is taking place against a backdrop where the sensors and effectors are going to be required to operate at far higher speed and more integrated than ever before. It’s not going to be good enough to take a position, course and a speed from one sensor and plug those numbers into a weapon to then release it. All of this information has to be exchanged electronically and very quickly, because underwater vehicles, especially weapon systems, are going to get faster; so response times are going to have come down.”

Integration of XL payload carriers will enhance littoral strike capabilities

The Importance of Underwater Networks

As Hains noted in the interview, an effective underwater network is essential for the Royal Navy to be able to conduct littoral strike operations. “An underwater network would allow the navy to share information and coordinate actions between its unmanned systems and manned ships. This would allow the navy to operate more effectively and efficiently and would give it a significant advantage over its adversaries.”

One year on

It’s been one year since Hains joined the Forcys project, he was here while the launch was being planned and participated on the launch in UDT 2022 in Rotterdam. How has it been? “I’m still absolutely thrilled to be part of something that feels really fresh, really exciting, and exactly what defence is looking for. It also feels good now that we’re getting more people in, and our expansion into the US and Australia is absolutely essential as we look towards AUKUS and other opportunities. I think there are so many synergies wrapped around AUKUS that we’re absolutely in the right place for it. I really feel like we’ve got the right model and the right recipe for success at just the right time. Especially when AUKUS rightly spins off underwater networks, defensive capabilities, and mine countermeasures capability to support anti-submarine warfare across shallow waters and confined spaces. I’m still amazed by the positive reaction I get from everyone when I explain why we created Forcys and what Forcys can offer. And I think if anything, we just need to go faster. That ability to really operate as that single point of contact will help us to accelerate again in terms of what we’re actually able to take on.”

Want to dominate the deep? Get in touch with our team.

(Featured Image of HMS Queen Elizabeth in Gibraltar by David Jenkins – InfoGibraltar under a Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.)

In the final installment of the DiveTrack series of blogs, retired Royal Navy Cdr Justin Hains MBE focuses on safety and future use cases. If you want to learn more about our technology partner Sonardyne‘s latest product remember to get in touch with our team.

If you haven’t yet read the previous blog articles in the series then follow this link.

An extra layer of safety

Divers are very well trained, but humans make mistakes. Errors made in diving can have fatal consequences. With DiveTrack the supervisor is an extra layer of diving safety: they receive the alarms the diving set generates at the same time as the diver, they can see cylinder contents nearing minimum safe levels or in the case of rebreathers, if the gas the diver is breathing is unsafe. The supervisor can either change the plan or abort the dive before the situation becomes life-threatening. DiveTrack provides an additional layer to the equipment safety case and to the risk mitigation in place for the dive.
The ability to send automated and pre-formatted messages to and from the dive computer caps the safety enhancements delivered by DiveTrack. The basics include “Diver well” and “Reached target” while emergency calls include “I need assistance”, which provides a direction and range to all other divers on the net. The potential of the data transmission is only limited by the sensor routed to the computer: equipment parameters (gas compositions and CO2 scrubber monitoring) and biometrics (heart rate, respiration rate, core temperature) are all possible now if required by the customer.

Future proof

The DiveTrack system has capacity for future upgrades. The system is running at a fraction of its maximum capacity. This makes DiveTrack a safe choice for customers who are investigating biometric monitoring, experimental diving, performance enhancement and operational advantage or even for the key requirement of all diving equipment: safety.

Early testing at JFD Portsmouth.

DiveTrack is what I needed off Portland all those years ago. It enhances resilience and safety. The mission is more likely to succeed. This is proven technology adapted to a diving requirement from our Technology Partner Sonardyne: acknowledged and trusted experts in underwater acoustic tracking and communications. It has ample headroom for additional data exchange requirements in future. It is compact, neutrally buoyant in sea water, easy to use and reliable. It has been successfully integrated and demonstrated with closed circuit rebreathers and open circuit equipment.

Contact us today to discuss your requirements.