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Solstice multi-aperture sonar has been integrated into mine warfare command software used by Australian Navy

According to a press release published on September 15, 2020, Marine technology company Sonardyne has announced that its Solstice multi-aperture sonar has been integrated into mine warfare command software used by the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 UUV Operators Collect New, Clear Images from 76-year-old Shipwreck with a Bluefin-12 equipped with Sonardyne Solstice Multi Aperture Sonar at Sea Trials for the Royal Australian. (Picture source

The Solstice is a search and classify AUV (Autonomous Unmanned Vessel) side scan sonar with integrated swath bathymetry that has been designed for small, medium and large AUVs. Its multiple apertures improve the signal-to-noise ratio performance, capturing stunning imagery at longer ranges than other sonars at the same frequency. It is interferometric too, meaning you also get co-located 3D data.

Each of Solstice’s 300 m-rated, 682 mm long, 2.11 kg arrays, has 32 multibeam elements. This configuration ensures that AUV or towed body is able to gather more data with higher image fidelity.

Solstice has been designed to produce high-contrast imagery, even in shallow, littoral waters, eliminating noise from multi-path reverberation, enhancing the contrast of the imagery. It employs a unique array technology which allows wide swath coverage normally associated with wide vertical beamwidth, whilst providing the shadow contrast associated with very narrow vertical beams.

Through a collaboration with Australian defence software engineering company Solutions from Silicon (SfS), data collected by Solstice during mine counter measure (MCM) missions can now be imported, processed and displayed in the most recent release of the MINTACs (Mine Warfare Tactical Command Software) which is in service with the RAN.

Sonardyne’s Solstice is widely considered a force multiplier for MCM operations, enabling substantially higher area coverage rates (ACR) using low-cost, low-logistics autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs). It provides 200 m wide swath with an unrivalled 0.15° along-track resolution and consumes just 18 Watts, maximising vehicle endurance.

Solstice is now fitted, as standard, to General Dynamics Mission Systems’ Bluefin-9 and Bluefin-12 unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs). Seven Bluefin-9 and Bluefin-12s will join the RAN’s UUV fleet this year under its SEA 1778 program. They will be based at HMAS Waterhen in Sydney and will search for, classify and identify sea mines.

MINTACS provides the operator with the ability to not only read and display the Solstice data but also mark mine-like objects (MLOs) of interest and process the images with its powerful onboard automatic target recognition (ATR) capability. MINTACS is in service with host of countries around the world including the national navies of the UK, Australia, Malaysia, United Arab Emirates, New Zealand and Sweden.