US company Lockheed Martin has selected the innovative, Australian-developed ViDAR Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) system for testing and development on the MH-60R helicopter, manufactured by its subsidiary Sikorsky. The RAN operates 24 MH-60Rs; there are more than 300 MH-60Rs in service globally.
The manufacturer of ViDAR, Melbourne-based Sentient Vision Systems, has been awarded a contract of undisclosed value to further test and develop the ViDAR (Visual Detection and Ranging) system that could see the Australian software-based imagery analysis and enhancement system integrated with the sensor suites on the MH-60R Seahawk.
ViDAR is the world’s first optical radar. In service aboard both manned and unmanned aircraft and helicopters, it is designed to autonomously detect, geo-locate, track and classify small, hard to detect objects over massive sea areas. ViDAR is currently used by several agencies and forces including the Australian Maritime Safety Authority, Royal Australian Navy and the US Coast Guard for a range of missions including search and rescue, countering illegal fishing and narcotics smuggling and maritime security. It has a proven ability to detect human head-sized targets in water up to Sea State 6.
Joe North, CEO of Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand, said Sentient Vision’s ViDAR illustrates the strength and resilience of Australia’s sovereign defence industry capability which underpins the company’s approach to growing Australian sovereign industrial capability.
“Lockheed Martin Australia’s approach of incubating innovation and growing SME capability is helping to create the conditions and the opportunities to build both capability and operational resilience needed for companies like Sentient to be able to compete on the world stage, and in this case with the world’s most advanced maritime helicopter.
“Sentient Vision Systems is a global leader in ISR technology solutions and we are proud to have had a long association, initially through R&D integration and testing of their Kestrel detection software for future rotary capability and potentially now with ViDAR as well,” he added.
Paul Boxer, Managing Director of Sentient Vision Systems, welcomed Lockheed Martin’s contract award and reaffirmed the critical importance of such industry partnerships to realising global export opportunities for Australian industry.
“We are excited about the potential for ViDAR to be integrated with sensor suites across Lockheed Martin’s MH-60R Seahawk platforms globally as this represents a significant opportunity for Sentient.”
Sentient Vision Systems has had success with Lockheed Martin in the past through the Kestrel detection software being successfully trialled in the MH-60R Software Integration Lab for consideration of future MH-60R capability enhancements.
Sentient and Lockheed Martin engineers in Australia and around the world will develop a tailored solution that will enhance the capabilities of the MH-60R while also advancing Australian sovereign defence industry capability.