The ULISSES Firefly system achieves challenging milestone in La Spezia

12 January 2021

ULISSES (Ultra Light Sonic Enhanced System) is a new acoustic anti-submarine maritime surveillance system developed by Leonardo.

Extremely lightweight and compact, ULISSES is optimised for all fixed-wing or rotary-wing aircraft and maritime platforms.

ULISSES is currently the only system that can also be installed on-board small unmanned platforms such as Leonardo’s AWHERO. 

The installation on-board the ship in La Spezia consisted of a single acoustic processor capable of managing sonobuoys and L3Harris’s FireFly dipping sonar, the sensors processed by the system.

The Italian Navy played an active role in the demonstration, providing an SH90 helicopter which launched three sonobuoys, a bathythermal sensor for analysis of marine parameters and two DIFAR passive detectors. The vessel also implemented sensors, launching active HIDAR elements.

In the demo, the sonobuoy’s processor card was integrated into the underwater sonar processor. This solution reduced the already low weight of the system by about 7 kg, offering clear benefits for optimisation of platform loads.

Once the buoy range had been defined and the underwater sonar lowered, transmission of the impulses generated by the different frequencies detected by the sensors began. The acoustic information was then collected and processed by the operator console on-board the ship, before being sent to shore in real-time with audio and video signals over the WBDL system (Wide Band Data Link, Leonardo’s proprietary system capable of data transmission at up to 45Mb per second). The ship-to-shore connection was a very important moment in the demo, permitting testing of the degree of interoperability with other equipment or with a command and control centre for real-time monitoring of the tactical situation.

The demo followed installation of a system upgrade on the fleet of SH90 helicopters, the Italian Navy version of the NH90, which was completed in August. 

The NH90 programme is the biggest programme of its kind ever launched in Europe, for medium-sized twin engine helicopters. Developed in response to the needs of military operators all over the world, it is managed by NHIndustries, a joint venture of Leonardo Helicopters, Airbus Helicopters and GKN Fokker.

In this context, ULISSES represents the evolution of the existing OTS90 system installed on-board the Italian and Dutch Navies’ NH90: a solution featuring cutting-edge technology, functionality and configuration potential, and offering a high degree of operational flexibility.
 

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