AUKUS partners test uncrewed undersea tech in Australia

Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States have conducted a combined exercise off the east coast of Australia testing autonomous undersea warfare capabilities.

Royal Australian Navy (RAN)

As explained, a range of modified commercial and military autonomous systems were deployed, in conjunction with existing capabilities, in order to test trilateral undersea warfare objectives.

The Integrated Battle Problem 23-3 exercise demonstrated the strength of AUKUS partners’ maritime collaboration.

During the exercise, Australia’s new undersea support vessel, Australian Defence Vessel (ADV) Guidance, hosted a range of undersea capabilities for testing at sea. The UK’s offshore patrol vessel, HMS Tamar, which is on a five-year deployment to the Indo-Pacific, also participated in the exercise.

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HMS Tamar used a combination of divers and autonomous underwater vehicles to conduct mine-countermeasure operations and monitor critical infrastructure, including pipelines and communication cables. 

The successful trial demonstrates significant progress in the development of undersea warfare capabilities under AUKUS. It highlighted how, through collaboration with the collective industrial bases, AUKUS partners can operate uncrewed and remote capabilities to effectively support decisions and engage targets in the maritime domain.

“Submarines are critical to the defence of Australia. Our submarines, and other military assets, will increasingly work with autonomous systems below and on the surface of the ocean to extend range and lethality. AUKUS Pillar Two is about delivering advanced capabilities, including through technologies that extend reach and range,” Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Mark Hammond AO, Royal Australian Navy said.

“As we have seen in the Ukraine conflict, scalable autonomous and semi-autonomous systems have the capacity to transform warfighting. The Defence Strategic Review identified asymmetric capabilities like these as critical in the defence and protection of the nation.”

“These exercises accelerate our combined development of advanced military capabilities. In a dynamic strategic environment and the escalation of competitors’ coercive activities, AUKUS is not just about the exchange of submarines and capabilities, it is an expansion of our continued trust in and commitment to our allies,” Commander US Pacific Fleet, Admiral Samuel Paparo, United States Navy stated.

“Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States are developing and fielding joint advanced military capabilities to promote security and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. The strategic alignment of our national defence strategies anchored by shared values is driving unprecedented collaboration in advanced technologies.”

“The recent AUKUS trials and exercise demonstrate the advances being made possible by our trilateral collaboration under the partnership. It is hugely exciting to see the strength of our three nations, coming together through the AUKUS partnership to successfully develop and demonstrate a range of underwater capabilities that are crucial to ensuring safety and security in the region and more broadly,” First Sea Lord, Admiral Sir Ben Key KCB CBE ADC, Royal Navy.

Recently, as part of the AUKUS agreement, defence companies Babcock Australasia and HII have joined forces with the University of Adelaide, Curtin University, and the University of NSW to form the AUKUS Workforce Alliance (AWA). This partnership is committed to preparing a skilled workforce in support of all steps of AUKUS pact.

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