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Ultra Maritime and UMS Skeldar awarded contract to evaluate UAS-based ASW solution for Canada

The V-200 has an endurance of more than six hours, a 235 kg take-off weight, and can carry payloads of up to 45 kg. (UMS Skeldar)

Ultra Maritime and UMS Skeldar have received a phase-two contract to evaluate the development of an anti-submarine warfare (ASW) sonobuoy dispensing capability for rotary-winged unmanned aerial systems (UASs).

Under the award, granted by the Canadian Department of National Defence's Innovation for Defence Excellence and Security (IDEas) programme, the two companies will evaluate the technical and operational feasibility of deploying sonobuoys from a Skeldar V-200 vertical take-off and landing UAS to track potentially hostile submarines operating in Canadian waters.

Speaking to Janes, Richard Hjelmberg, vice-president for business development, UMS Skeldar, said the phase-two contract would continue to develop initial proof-of-concept studies completed during 2021. Work would include conducting structural installation and integration work on the UAS to be able to fit the sonobuoys onboard.

β€œWe're doing some sheet metal work at the moment with the idea being to work out how to fit the sonobuoys in the best possible position to be able to release them in over the water so that they hit the water in the right position in a safe way,” he said.

Hjelmberg said the use of rotary UASs in ASW operations could provide several benefits, including the provision of a rapid-deployment capability for tracking potentially hostile submarines, a smaller logistical footprint onboard Royal Canadian Navy (RCN) ships, and a cost-effective alternative compared with current methods of ASW.

β€œPart of our job together with Ultra is to fine-tune the ConOps [concept of operations] for rotary UAS, but the essential idea is to use the system as a rapid-reaction ASW capability,” he said.

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