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Euronaval 2022: Herne XLUAV concept surfaces

The Herne XLAUV, displayed in public for the first time at Euronaval 2022. (Kate Tringham/Janes)

BAE Systems has lifted the lid on a new modular, highly configurable extra-large autonomous underwater vehicle (XLAUV) concept being developed to address a range of emerging missions in the future underwater battlespace.

The Herne XLAUV, displayed in public for the first time at the Euronaval 2022 maritime exhibition in Paris, draws together experience in payload integration, sensors, mission planning, electronic architecture, and whole-boat integration from several BAE Systems businesses, plus prior concept development undertaken by project partner Steller Systems. Initial concept development activities include exploring applicability to a number of use cases, notably anti-submarine warfare (ASW), intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), and seabed warfare and protection of critical national infrastructure.

According to Murray Thomson, BAE Systems' chief technologist (underwater), the development of the Herne concept reflects the company's aspirations to participate in an XLAUV market space that is still maturing. β€œBy XLAUV, we're talking of a vehicle of over two metres in diameter, and hosted by a surface ship or submarine,” he told Janes. β€œWhat we've attempted to do is evolve a preliminary design such that we have an understanding of all the critical design aspects – the platform itself, subsystems, and payloads – and a build strategy that would allow us to transition into manufacture.”

Thomson added that, β€œIf we were fully funded, we could have a demonstrator in the water in two-to-four years, and then into production in four-to-six years.”

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