Australia selects navigation systems from iXblue for Arafura-class OPVs

by Ridzwan Rahmat

A computer-generated visualisation of the Arafura class, which is being built under Australia’s Sea 1180 Phase 1 programme. (Lürssen Australia/ASC)

A computer-generated visualisation of the Arafura class, which is being built under Australia’s Sea 1180 Phase 1 programme. (Lürssen Australia/ASC)

Australia is equipping its future Arafura-class offshore patrol vessels (OPVs) with inertial navigation systems and gyrocompasses from French sensors company, iXblue.

The systems are based on fibre-optic gyroscope technology, said the company in a statement on 25 August.

“...iXblue’s inertial navigation systems will provide the 12 new Arafura Class vessels with highly accurate and reliable navigation capabilities in all environments, including within GNSS [global navigation satellite system]-denied operational areas”, it added.

However, the company has stopped short of revealing further details on the systems that it would be supplying for the OPVs. iXblue has a range of four series of inertial navigation and gyrocompass products, one of which has been described as one with “military strategic grade”.

The product, which is referred to by the company as the Marins Series, features stealth autonomous navigation capabilities, and can be integrated with major combat managements systems on the market today.

Australia’s Arafura-class OPVs were procured under the country’s SEA1180 Phase 1 programme, which seeks to replace the Armidale- and Cape-class patrol boats. An AUD3.6 billion (USD2.6 billion) contract for the new OPVs was signed in late January 2018 with German shipbuilder Lürssen.

The OPV has a standard displacement of 1,640 tonnes, an overall length of 80 m, an overall beam of 13 m, and a hull draught of 4 m. It has a crew complement of 40 and can offer accommodation for up to 60 personnel.

Construction work on the first and second ships began in November 2018 and June 2019 respectively at Osborne Naval Shipyard, while construction work on the third ship in the programme began in March 2020 at the Civmec shipyard in Henderson, Western Australia.

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A computer-generated visualisation of the Arafura class, which is being built under Australia’s Se...

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