Chess Dynamics, a British sensor supplier and Cohort subsidiary, will serve as a sub-contractor to BAE Systems Maritime Australia in support of the Hunter-class frigate development programme for the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

Under a contract worth £15.7m ($19.8m), the supplier’s Sea Eagle passive surveillance system will be integrated on each of the Navy’s six multi-mission surface combatants. Work will begin immediately and conclude in 2031.

Sea Eagle is an automated system that collects passive surveillance data in the maritime domain using advanced image processing tools for target tracking. This solution was unveiled to Naval Technology in July last year in the run-up to DSEI 2023 two months later.

The system employs electro-optical sensors and uses a built-in video tracking and target classification capability. This will reduce operational burden as the system effectively filters the information and only flags objects that are deemed genuine risks or threats to the operator.

GlobalData tells us that the global military ‘Electro-Optical and Infra Red Market’ was valued at $10.1bn in 2022, which it expects to reach $13.6bn by 2032. This 3.1% compound annual growth rate suggests Chess Dynamics’ adoption of electro-optics will soon be a coveted defence solution across all domains.

RAN restructures its surface fleet

Toward the end of February 2024, RAN announced that it intended to restructure its surface combatant force, appropriating an additional A$11.5bn ($7.5bn) for 11 new general-purpose frigates, modernisation of the fleet as well as the reduction of Hunter-class frigates from nine to six vessels.

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Prior to the reduction the Hunter-class had been the Commonwealth’s largest construction project to date.

The class, also referred to as the ‘Global Combat Ship Australia’, is a multi-mission frigate based on the UK Royal Navy’s Type-26 model. These frigates will replace the existing ANZAC-class frigates, which entered service with the RAN in 1996.

As prime contractor, BAE Systems Maritime Australia designed the class to perform a range of missions: anti-submarine warfare, along with air defence, anti-surface warfare, surveillance and intelligence, interdiction, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations.

As part of this multi-mission network of sensors and effectors there will lie the Sea Eagle, which will identify and track maritime threats.

“This order provides further confirmation of the capability and competitiveness of Chess’s Sea Eagle system, and we are delighted to add the Royal Australian Navy to the user base,” stated Andy Thomis, Cohort’s CEO. “This, combined with the recent contract with the Royal Canadian Navy, demonstrates the continuing expansion of Cohort’s international customer base.”