Armscor looking to acquire unmanned underwater vehicle

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Armscor is looking to acquire a single REMUS 100 unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) for research and development purposes, and has issued a tender to this effect.

The tender was issued on 7 August with interested manufacturers/suppliers given three weeks until 28 August to submit written bids. Tender R&D/IMT-2023/018 calls for the “supply and delivery of an unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) system”.

Wording of the documentation has it the UUV system “shall be the REMUS 100(M) variant”. The REMUS (Remote Environmental Monitoring UnitS) was developed by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and its Oceanographic Systems Laboratory (OSL). More recently REMUS vehicles have been manufactured by spin-off company Hydroid Inc, once a wholly owned subsidiary of Kongsberg Maritime and subsequently acquired by Huntingdon Ingalls Industries (HHI) in March 2020.

On hardware the Armscor documentation has it “a single UUV shall be provided with full OEM (original equipment manufacturer) specifications as per part number 1705371-03”. A complete set of shipboard equipment to prepare, operate, maintain and support the UUV as well as software and documentation are also part of the tender along with “online training”. This covers preparation, mission planning, operation, post mission analysis, routine maintenance and diagnostics.

The REMUS 100 takes its name from its maximum operating depth of 100 meters. It is available in several variants, including REMUS 100B with a high-resolution sonar; REMUS 100E for collecting ecological data; and REMUS 100M for mine countermeasures surveying, search and recovery, and rapid environmental assessment.

The REMUS 100 is used by expeditionary forces to conduct shallow-water mine countermeasures and port and harbour clearance. Using side scan sonar, the REMUS 100 surveys large areas autonomously which allows operators to review the data away from the minefield to identify and classify mine-like objects.

The REMUS 100M weighs nearly 40 kg, has a speed of 8 km/h, endurance of 10 hours, and maximum range of nearly 70 km. It is powered by a 1.5 kWh lithium-ion battery driving a three-bladed propeller.

Armscor’s tender calls for “operator and maintenance training for experienced IMT staff” indicating the REMUS 100M will be used by the Institute for Maritime Technology (IMT), part of the Armscor defence institutes, which conducts research and test activities in the maritime domain.

The IMT has for a number of years worked on autonomous underwater vehicle technology for mine countermeasures work, for instance conducting multiple UUV tests for the SA Navy in Simons Town in 2015. In 2011, the SA Navy awarded the IMT a contract to develop autonomous underwater vehicle technology in line with an SA Navy requirement for a number of AUVs, including for four offboard minehunting systems in terms of Project Mapantsula.

The IMT has designed and developed an underwater locator beacon detection system in collaboration with the SA Navy to detect cockpit voice and flight data recorders on crashed or ditched aircraft. The underwater locator beacon (ULB) has been fitted to an unmanned vessel.