Leonardo (Pavilion 8) and Ultra Electronics have successfully completed a series of trials of the former’s new Ultra-Light Sonics Enhanced System (ULISSES) acoustic sensor submarine-detection capability. Designed for aircraft or vessel use, the ULISSES processor collects and exploits data from up to 64 distributed sonobuoys or dipping sonar sensors, using various sources of information to locate potentially hostile vessels.
The ULISSES program was launched at the Farnborough Air Show in 2018. The first trials took place in Italy and were vessel-based, during which 20 sonobuoys provided by Ultra were used. However, the two companies are also working together to develop a podded system that includes a sonobuoy launcher that can be used for airborne applications, including for carriage by UAVs.
“Ultra is the only company to provide miniaturized sonobuoys fitted for multistatic operation which are suitable for small UAV applications,” Pietro Vanotti, vice-president of combat air systems at Leonardo Electronics, told AIN. “Through our partnership with Ultra, Leonardo will be the first company to offer a system which makes use of them.”
The operational functionality of the system with different kinds of sonobuoys—including GPS-based buoys—was verified during the tests, and the active and passive processing capabilities of ULISSES and its multistatic capabilities were proven, the company said.
Further trials incorporating the L3 Harris Firefly dipping sonar are planned for the first half of 2020 in Italy, during which the concept will be demonstrated to several potential customers and will involve Ultra as well. Development is on track to complete by the end of 2019, Vanotti said, and production of ULISSES will take place in 2020 for deliveries into 2021.