www.indopacificexpo.com.auRapid technology developments have now made it possible for warships to extend their information, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) capabilities through use of uncrewed naval systems. One limiting factor is the distance that these systems can operate from their host vessel.

Not only are uncrewed systems being used for ISR, but also they can be used offensively as well. In this role great care is needed to retain control of their actions, including the ability to recall or self-destruct them if their target is suddenly identified as unwise or forbidden. For underwater uncrewed systems, APDR is using the term remote system to mean one which is approaching the limit of underwater communication between its host and the uncrewed vehicle.

The number of different types of uncrewed naval systems and the ways of using them is increasing rapidly. This means that Australia does not have to spend time and funds developing its own small platforms, but can take advantage of products from overseas, providing their deployment and maintenance support is provided by the RAN and the Australian defence industry.

The ADF needs to get a move on in selecting and deploying uncrewed systems, as potential adversaries are rapidly developing challenging capabilities in this field, often capable of delivering munitions on target. The deeply regrettable war visited by Russian forces upon Ukraine is being well documented by the media, with many lessons learned about what forces and weapons are being used effectively.

On the Ukrainian side, ubiquitous uncrewed aerial systems ensure a transparent battlefield.

The increased availability of real-time overhead surveillance and target acquisition (plus direct engagement in the case of armed drones like the Turkish Bayraktar TB2) have been able to seek out and destroy Russian armoured vehicles, revealing poor Russian defensive strategies.

Massed area fires, multiple-launch rocket systems, and the proliferation of anti-tank guided missiles with tandem warheads have all produced a new level of lethality and intensity in modern conventional combat. Electronic warfare capabilities have been applied by Ukrainian forces using signals intelligence, active electronic protection to counter Russian drones and jamming of Russian communications. Effective electronic warfare may help explain why so many Russian generals are being killed.

As an indication of the importance that the United States Navy attaches to uncrewed systems, their 5th Fleet which protects the Strait of Hormuz, is planning to deploy around 100 surface and submersible drones by mid-2023. 20% of all oil shipments travel through this contested patch of water.

5th Fleet commander, Vice Admiral Brad Cooper, has said “By using unmanned systems, we can simply see more. They have high reliability and remote the human factor. The systems are the only way to cover whatever gaps that we have today.”

This is an excerpt from APDR. To read the full story, click here.

APDR Newsletter

For Editorial Inquiries Contact:
Editor Kym Bergmann at kym.bergmann@venturamedia.net

For Advertising Inquiries Contact:
Director of Sales Graham Joss at graham.joss@venturamedia.net

Previous articleDefence looking for new ideas in AI with ADSTAR Summit
Next articleRohde & Schwarz signs deal with BAE Systems for Hunter communication systems


  1. Yes Australia needs uncrewd systems, but not as imported. Instead we must start out the right way and engage local industry in design, prototyping, test & evaluation production, training and sustainment. For too long we have put off the serious investment in local industry. In the same way we need local academia to work on technological challenges we face over the current decade, as well as blue sky stuff


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here