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Australia's future extra-large UUV named ‘Ghost Shark'

The Royal Australian Navy has taken delivery of the 2.8 tonne ‘Dive-LD' unmanned submarine that will be used to support Australia's XLUUV rapid testing and development activity. (Julian Kerr)

Australia's push to develop extra-large unmanned underwater vehicles (XLUUVs) has been officially named the ‘Ghost Shark' programme in a ceremony on 12 December that included the handover of a 2.8 tonne ‘Dive-Large Displacement' (LD) UUV to the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) from the US as a test prototype.

The 5.8 m unmanned submarine arrived in Australia ahead of schedule as part of the AUD140 million (USD95 million) partnership signed in March 2022 between the RAN, the Defence Science and Technology Group (DSTG), and Anduril Australia, a wholly owned subsidiary of the US defence technology company, Anduril Industries.

The partnership involves co-funding the design, development, and construction within three years of three prototype XLUUVs, each of which will be the size of a school bus. Anduril is contributing AUD70 million to the project and using technology from its recently acquired UUV manufacturer Dive Technologies as a starting point.

The company's Dive-LD can autonomously conduct missions for up to 10 days along the seafloor at depths of up to 6,000 m.

In the ceremony on Sydney Harbour, the RAN's Head of Navy Capability, Rear Admiral Peter Quinn, said the RAN's robotics, autonomous systems and artificial intelligence (RAS-AI) campaign plan 2025 included the rapid development of combat-ready prototypes to accelerate operational deployment of capabilities such as Ghost Shark.

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