In a move aimed at bolstering its maritime defence capabilities, the Australian Department of Defence has announced awarding an A$328m ($210m) contract to L3Harris Technologies.

The contract will see the delivery of advanced maritime underwater tracking ranges (MUTR) for the Royal Australian Navy, marking a phase in the SEA1350 programme. This initiative is set to fortify Australia’s undersea warfare support capabilities, enhance readiness, and play a role in safeguarding the nation’s maritime interests.

Under the SEA1350 Phase 3 MUTR programme, L3Harris Technologies will provide a sub-surface tracking capability, supporting current and future Australian Defence Force assets. These tracking ranges, equipped with sensors, will capture and relay information regarding the location and movement of assets operating within their coverage areas.

This development hopes to change warfighting tactics and proficiency, contributing to Australia’s strategic shipbuilding programme.

In other recent Australian naval developments, the Australian Defence Force has acquired their fourth MQ-4C Triton unmanned aerial system and upgraded their fleet of P-8 maritime patrol aircraft, costing them a total of A$1.5bn.

Alan Clements, corporate vice president and Australia country executive at L3Harris, emphasised the company’s commitment to elevating Australia’s defence capabilities. He stated, “We’re committed to growing Australian defence capabilities by leveraging our global technology and experience to develop Australia’s sovereign maritime underwater tracking range approach.

This is an important competence now and into the future as we continue to modernise and enhance maritime platforms and systems.”

A feature of the MUTR programme is its versatility. These tracking ranges will simultaneously enable exercises in deep and littoral waters involving surface and sub-surface assets. This multifaceted approach aligns with Australia’s emphasis on anti-submarine warfare capability and will enhance littoral test and evaluation procedures over the next decade.

Furthermore, this partnership will see L3Harris Technologies establish the MUTR in Western Australia, a move that promises economic benefits to the region. The delivery of the MUTR will play a role in optimising the preparedness of the Royal Australian Navy.

As Australia continues to modernise and enhance its maritime platforms and systems, this A$328m contract with L3Harris Technologies signifies a step forward in safeguarding the nation’s naval approaches and sea lines of communication.

Australia is navigating a complex and unpredictable Indo-Pacific region, which is anticipated to become a potential battleground where the current major powers, the United States and China, may be confronted.