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RN looks to explore uncrewed ASW surveillance under Project Charybdis

Indicative problem space of Charybdis relative to in-service ASW systems. (SDA-AU)

The UK Royal Navy (RN) has kicked off a programme to explore how its anti-submarine warfare (ASW) capability could be improved through the employment of future capabilities based on unmanned, persistent, deployable ASW surveillance systems.

The initiative, known as Project Charybdis, seeks to leverage advances in autonomy, robotics, and machine learning to explore new solutions beyond the current mixture of fixed infrastructure, short-life sonobuoys, and high-value crewed platforms. One strand of activity, being managed through the Submarine Delivery Agency-Autonomy Unit (SDA-AU), is asking industry to share thinking on novel autonomous system concepts – a second market exploration workstream, under the UK's Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA), focused on relevant subsystem technologies.

Forming part of the RN's wider ASW Spearhead initiative, which is intended to maximise operational advantage in the anti-submarine domain, Project Charybdis is focused on delivering five capability-based outcomes: to deploy to a wide area of ocean and operate persistently; to detect hostile underwater forces (principally submarines); to classify triggers and distinguish hostiles; to localise hostiles and potentially track their movement; and report to friendly forces.

According to the RN, the intent for Project Charybdis is “to complement existing options, enabling benefits of autonomy to be realised, including enhanced scale and quality of surveillance capability, reduced reliance on high value crewed assets, and reduced requirement for crew at sea with associated cost and risk benefits”. It adds that key challenges include achieving the required endurance, survivability, area of detection, and time to deploy, and further adds that meeting the required capability “is likely to necessitate significant innovation and development”.

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