Autonomous undersea warfare capability for Australia’s navy

undersea warfare

The federal government is pursuing a new autonomous robotic undersea warfare capability for the Royal Australian Navy to complement its submarine and surface fleet. 

Defence and Anduril Australia will co-fund a program to design, develop and manufacture Extra Large Autonomous Undersea Vehicles (XLAUV) in Australia for capability assessment and prototyping. 

XLAUVs are cutting-edge uncrewed robotic vessels. They are a stealthy, multi-role, undersea capability, typically between 10-30 metres long, with the capacity to carry various military payloads over long distances. 

This capability would potentially complement and enhance the agility and potency of the Royal Australian Navy’s current submarine and surface combatant force in maintaining peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. 

The vessels would also give the Australian Defence Force innovative mission options, while presenting a disruptive and difficult undersea problem for any adversary. 

Through the co-funded arrangement, the Royal Australian Navy, Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG) and Anduril will produce three prototype XLAUVs over the next three years resulting in a manufacture ready XLAUV. The program will also incorporate Australian small to medium enterprises (SMEs). 

This ambitious build schedule will develop the foundation of a sovereign based XLAUV fleet, while strengthening Defence’s understanding of the technology associated with operating these platforms. 

Anduril was selected as a breakthrough defence industry participant offering innovative solutions and products through rapid prototyping in high-risk technical environments. 

This is a great example of a capability acceleration initiative using the innovation funding identified in the 2020 Force Structure Plan, under the auspices of the Robotics Autonomous Systems Sovereign Industrial Capability Priority (RAS SICP) announced in August 2021. 

Ongoing industry engagement and concerted efforts in broadening Australia’s Autonomous Undersea Vehicles industry will ensure that Defence is at the forefront of Robotics Autonomous Systems and undersea warfare developments.