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UK launches Look out! competition for future maritime early warning tech

The United Kingdom has launched a Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) competition, which is aimed at the development and demonstration of novel maritime early warning technologies to enable over-the-horizon (OTH) situational awareness (SA) for maritime task groups.

The DASA competition, run in partnership with the Royal Navy (RN), is aimed at investigating potential alternative future concepts for a follow-on to the Crowsnest airborne surveillance and control (ASaC) capability. Current planning assumptions are that Crowsnest – an ASaC radar/mission system role fit for the Merlin HM2 helicopter – will be replaced after 2029 by an uncrewed air platform mounting a singular large radar sensor.

Maritime task groups require a capability for OTH SA so that force commanders can detect, track, and recognise surface and airborne objects in the battlespace and respond to them efficiently within appropriate timescales. Low-level and/or signature-controlled threats present a particular challenge.

DASA's Look out! Maritime Early Warning Innovations competition, announced on 11 May, is seeking an alternative solution to traditional airborne sensor-mounted platforms that can match or exceed current airborne capabilities. Specific challenges include: improving threat detection and SA, including detecting, tracking, recognising, and identifying hostile and non-hostile contacts on the surface of the water and in the air; enhancing information processing and dissemination, including integrating the data from sensors and other air and surface platforms within the maritime task group into a composite picture of activity to enable timely decision making; optimising efficiency by minimising workforce requirement through a reduced operator and support burden; and novel or innovative methods of combining system functionality will also be considered, alongside solutions to enhance decision-making efficiency.

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