At Euronaval 2016 in Paris on 17 October, Thales introduced the AUTONOMOUS UNDERWATER & SURFACE SYSTEM (AUSS), “the world’s first hybrid unmanned system capable of operating both above and below the surface,” according to the company.

The initiative involves 19 French small and medium sized enterprises (SME), who have worked with Thales Underwater Systems over the last three years to develop over a dozen high-tech innovations to bring the concept to life from the drawing board. AUSS is designed for a broad range of mission application in both the naval and civil maritime domains, ranging from intelligence gathering through mine countermeasures and counter-terrorism to offshore platform surveillance.

Agile and manoeuvrable, AUSS can control its depth on the move or at rest and can perform a 180° turn in less than 10m. It can stabilise a sensor mast deployed several metres above the surface – a function impossible for any current vehicle of similar size – and offers long endurance, making it capable of missions of several weeks in duration, spanning hundreds of kilometres.

Designed to be launched from and recovered by surface vessels and submarines using standard 21”/53cm torpedo tubes, AUSS is infinitely reconfigurable for maximum operator resource utilisation.

“With AUSS, Thales is bringing a completely new concept to the unmanned maritime systems market. We are sure that its unique set of operational capabilities will open up new horizons for civil as well as military organisations involved in maritime surveillance and protection. The launch of AUSS at Euronaval is a key milestone in a collective project that has been conducted over the last three years at the Thales site in Brest and in partnership with 19 SMEs. It marks the coming of age of the unmanned maritime systems industry in France,” said Pierre-Eric Pommellet, Senior Vice President Defence Mission Systems at Thales.

The French SMEs involved in the AUSS programme are: ACCO (in Soudan,) AODE (Plouzané,) Clemessy (Pleuven,) Concept Frenoy Design (Boulogne-Billancourt,) Eiscom (Nozay,) Faulhaber (Montigny-le-Bretonneux,) FMC (Brest,) Fonderie Barbas & Plailly (Montoire-sur-le-Loir,) Hydrofluid (Caudan,) Iroise Mer-TSM (Brest,) Jaffredou (Pencran,) Mac Artney (Rousset,) Meca Atlantique (Noyal sur Brutz,) Mecatec (Seiches-sur-le-Loir,) Mercier Engrenages (Rosny-sous-Bois,) Musthane (Willems,) Oxxius (Lannion,) SOCAP (Brest) and Tolanjou (Tierce.)


Tim Mahon

At Euronaval 2016, Thales and 19 French SMEs are introducing the new AUSS concept, a hybrid unmanned system capable of operating both above and below the surface. AUSS is designed for a broad range of civil and military roles, including intelligence gathering, maritime counter-terrorism, mine countermeasures and offshore platforms surveillance. (Graphic: Thales)

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