Eye Closer Collaboration on Underwater Domain Awareness in Australia and India

World News

Australia and India are becoming more interested in undersea domain awareness (UDA) as a result of the People’s Liberation Army of China deploying an increasing number of underwater assets. According to officials and analysts, Canberra and New Delhi have emphasised UDA in bilateral discussions and joint defence drills, with more extensive cooperation in the works.

Assistant professor Prakash Panneerselvam of India’s National Institute of Advanced Studies told FORUM that “the growing presence of Chinese submarines and unmanned underwater vehicles poses a significant strategic threat to the freedom and openness of the Indo-Pacific, impacting not just regional security but also directly affecting India and Australia.”

A coordinated system of satellites, seabed sensors, maritime patrol planes, anti-submarine warfare helicopters, unmanned systems, and submarines is needed for comprehensive UDA throughout the region. Information sharing among Allies is also necessary.

The joint statement released following the second India-Australia 2+2 Ministerial Dialogue in New Delhi in November 2023 included a greater discussion of bilateral collaboration in UDA and regional marine security. The defence and foreign ministers of the two countries said that their first collaborative research initiative on underwater technologies was moving forward.

According to Panneerselvam, such initiatives could result in the development of an extensive sensor and surveillance network spanning vital maritime sites, enhancing the countries’ ability to recognise and track submarine activity and other underwater hazards.

“This initiative aims to establish a similar sensor network to oversee critical maritime passages, mirroring the ambition of the U.S. Sound Surveillance System [SOSUS],” the spokesperson added.

SOSUS was created by the US Navy in the 1950s to use passive sonar to track Soviet submarines.

The 2020 Mutual Logistics Support Agreement, which facilitates military engagements, the Defence Science and Technology Implementing Arrangement, which improves communication between the countries’ defence research organisations, and the 2020 Comprehensive Strategic Partnership, which expanded the scope of the defence and security relationship, are just a few of the defence agreements that already exist between Australia and India and could support increased UDA collaboration.

According to Panneerselvam, cooperative UDA initiatives may benefit from shared platforms like the P-8 maritime reconnaissance aircraft and the C-17 and C-130 transport aircraft. The Information Fusion Centre – Indian Ocean Region, a project led by India to improve maritime security through the exchange of shipping and maritime information, may facilitate information sharing. Since 2021, Australia has dispatched a liaison officer to the facility.It’s

Armed forces from each country participate in UDA.

Panneerselvam states that the development of UDA technology is another area of possible bilateral cooperation.

He said, “The Indian Navy has invited both local and international entities to contribute to this initiative. It has also detailed its strategy for enhancing unmanned system capabilities and identified essential technologies for development.”

“Australia is well-positioned to work with Indian companies to produce vehicles that meet naval requirements, as evidenced by ongoing projects to develop autonomous underwater vehicles. This suggests the possibility of forming a collaborative industrial consortium.”

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