Saab will deliver 20 Sabertooth autonomous underwater vehicles to the Dubai-based PXGEO marine geophysical survey provider.

The contract is Saab’s largest Sabertooth order worth SEK620m ($56.9m); the customer will acquire the uncrewed underwater vehicles (UUVs) between 2023 and 2025.

The vehicles will form part of PXGEO’s MantaRay solution for offshore seismic data acquisition; it will help with the deployment and recovery of equipment during seabed surveys.

MantaRay offers survey design flexibility by providing imaging to eliminate geological risk. Autonomous, untethered operation brings efficiency and pre-programmed autonomous mission planning ensures fast and accurate node placement.

Saab tells us that the vehicle can reach depths of 3,000 metres. The autonomous feature of the UUV brings “efficiency and reliability” to the offshore seismic industry, the CEO of PXGEO, Tony Bowman, stated.

“The combined efforts [will finally] unlock the full potential of ocean bottom node seismic in line with PXGEO’s commitment to United Nations’ sustainable development goals,” Bowman added.

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UUV market

The UUV market is expanding as the geopolitical climate intensifies; particularly in the Indo-Pacific where technological advantages in the maritime domain are prized.

Countries in the region have made efforts to gain complete situational awareness of the region, such as Australia with its military satellite communications.

However, situational awareness also extends beneath the surface, where underwater assets will provide a critical competitive advantage in assessing geophysical topography and naval encounters.

GlobalData intelligence tells us that the global military uncrewed maritime vehicles market, valued at $1.3bn in 2023 is projected to grow at a compound annual growth rate of 9.52% until 2033. The UUVs segment will take up a 30.9% share of this rapid growth over the next decade.