The Australian Department of Defence has entered an agreement with universities and industry to develop ways to improve the stealth capabilities of submarines.

The three-year collaboration programme was signed by Defence Science and Technology (DST). It seeks to develop new acoustic materials that will make the submarines harder to detect.

Prototype stealth materials will be developed by a team comprising researchers from DST, the University of Melbourne and RMIT University and industry partners QinetiQ and Matrix Composites & Engineering.

The A$1.5m ($1.03m) programme is supported by DST-managed Next Generation Technologies Fund with an investment of A$730m ($505.38m) until June 2026.

It will focus on the production of new materials to reduce the acoustic signature of submarines.

The government aims to tap acoustic science, materials science, engineering, and technological innovation across the country to develop new defence technology solutions.

Chief defence scientist professor Tanya Monro said: “Emerging materials and next-generation platforms are vital to creating sustainable sovereign capability for the navy to support defence’s current and future needs across the maritime domain.

“This innovative research has the potential to enhance underwater vehicle survivability, as well as operational effectiveness.”

University of Melbourne’s professor Graham Schaffer will lead the research team, while professor Tuan Ngo and Dr Christian Brandl, RMIT University’s professor Peter Daivis, and DST’s Dr Ellie Hajizadeh will serve as chief investigators.

Australia has recently partnered with France’s Naval Group for delivery of an A$50bn ($35bn) future submarine programme.