L3Harris Technologies has teamed up with Ultra Electronics and Indianic Group for the development of the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) new Magnetic Treatment Facility (MTF) to be installed in Western Australia under the SEA 1350 Phase 2 program.

SEA 1350 Phase 2 aims to replace and upgrade the existing RAN magnetic treatment facilities in Western Australia, which are used to reduce or eliminate the magnetism of a steel hull to enhance stealth capability, preventing submarines from triggering magnetic mines or attracting certain types of torpedos.

This is performed on submarines are part of the pre-deployment process before submarines go out to sea, for extended patrols, exercises or other purposes.

The formal tender process for SEA 1350 Phase 2 has recently opened with an Initial Operating Capability planned for 2023. All three companies have had several years of experience providing signature management capability and working on maritime ranges for the RAN.

L3Harris’ Oceania based in Fremantle, Western Australia is currently providing the acoustic undersea range systems supporting signature management and live-firing exercises, and supports many other RAN systems including maritime navigation and hydrographic mission systems.

HMAS Newcastle docks at the Magnetic Treatment Facility (MTF) at Fleet Base West in Western Australia (Photo: Commonwealth of Australia)

“Reducing ships’ magnetic signatures is a key capability for the RAN,” said Alan Titheridge, Managing Director, L3Harris Australia Group. “If we’re successful, we would also subcontract a number of other Western Australian-based subject matter experts (SME) to support the design, construction and maintenance of the new facility – delivering sovereign superiority in the region.”

Ultra’s UK business, PMS, currently supplies the RAN’s existing MTF located at Fleet Base West as well as all in-service open sea magnetic ranges. If successful, Ultra would transfer skills and technology to its South Australian-based business to grow Australian industry’s signature management capability and enable sovereign sustainment.

The third company under the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU), Western Australian-based Indianic Group, specializes in marine and subsea infrastructure. Indianic Group currently maintains and operates the existing magnetic measurement and deperming facilities at Fleet Base West.

The partnership would extend to the SEA 1350 Phase 3 Maritime Underwater Tracking Range, covering the upgrade of the fixed and portable acoustic tracking ranges, which is planned to go to tender late this year. L3Harris and Ultra have also successfully partnered on other Australian projects across sonar, communications and electronic warfare technologies.

The Commonwealth was earlier known to be seeking a solution under Phase 3 which includes the following three types of ranges; 1) a Deepwater Tracking Range, 2) a Shallow Water Tracking Range, and 3) a Deployable Tracking Range.

The requirement was borne out of a need for tactically relevant testing for in-service and future light/heavyweight torpedoes, and the conduct of intimately controlled shallow water exercises is currently not achievable using current range infrastructure in Australia.

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Kym Bergmann
Kym Bergmann is the editor for Asia Pacific Defence Reporter (APDR) and Defence Review Asia (DRA). He has more than 25 years of experience in journalism and the defence industry. After graduating with honours from the Australian National University, he joined Capital 7 television, holding several positions including foreign news editor and chief political correspondent. During that time he also wrote for Business Review Weekly, undertaking analysis of various defence matters.After two years on the staff of a federal minister, he moved to the defence industry and held senior positions in several companies, including Blohm+Voss, Thales, Celsius and Saab. In 1997 he was one of two Australians selected for the Thomson CSF 'Preparation for Senior Management' MBA course. He has also worked as a consultant for a number of companies including Raytheon, Tenix and others. He has served on the boards of Thomson Sintra Pacific and Saab Pacific.


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