In the May 2020 edition Marine Technology Reporter
explored business and tech trends in the defense sector in our
"Defense Roundtable." With space limited in the print edition, we
offer here the full interview with Mark Kenny, General Manager,
Unmanned Maritime Systems, L3Harris.
Please provide a brief overview of your company and its technology, with specific insight on your offering for the defense sector.
L3Harris Technologies is an agile global aerospace and defense
technology innovator, delivering end-to-end solutions that meet
customers' mission-critical needs. The company provides advanced
defense and commercial technologies across air, land, sea, space
and cyber domains. L3Harris has approximately $18 billion in
annual revenue and 50,000 employees, with customers in 130
countries. As part of our unmanned maritime system offerings to
the subsea defense community, we are proud to offer the Iver
family of UUVs. The Iver4 is a next-generation small diameter UUV
featuring ultra-low logistics, extended mission duration, highest
quality sensor data, and swappable payload and battery sections.
What percentage of your business in 2019 was in the defense sector?
Unmanned Maritime Systems does about 2/3 of our business in the
defense sector. Much of this work is US and International
defense contractors and agencies who procure our goods and
services via commercial contracts.
In general, discuss the importance of the defense sector to your company and the trends regarding the size and pace of the market in recent years.
Growth of unmanned in the defense sector, whether it be
international or domestic, is of critical importance to the
growth of our business. There are five business units in the
Unmanned Maritime Systems division and each were acquired to
bring a unique and differentiating capability to compete in this
space. It is the growing demand for unmanned systems to meet
mission requirements for the U.S. Navy, whether under the surface
or above, that is fuel for our business.
Discuss how defense sector requirements have helped to drive your company's R&D/Product development over the past few years.
L3Harris had fielded over 300 Unmanned Undersea Vehicles (UUV)
before the Iver4 product was introduced. Through many years of
successful operations and engagement with the warfighter,
L3Harris saw a gap in capability between small and medium UUVs.
Small diameter UUVs did not have the endurance, modularity, safe
battery chemistry, and mission performance the operators needed,
but medium class UUVs were difficult to handle with a large
logistics footprint. After years of prototyping, L3Harris
released the Iver4 900 to meet the requirements of the operators.
It delivered a small diameter UUV (<10inches) that matched the
capability of the medium vehicles (10-21 inches) without the
logistics and battery safety challenges that kept these vehicles
from being used for critical EOD, Submarine, and Naval Special
What are the specific tech attributes of your system(s) that you have found to be particularly attractive to the defense sector (please be specific)?
The Iver4 carries the highest performing navigation and imaging sensors available, while using swappable battery chemistries that meet flexible mission needs. The clean power architecture and signature mapping of the UUV ensure that the highest quality data is produced from the onboard imaging sensors. The unique, wet-mateable sections allow payload changes in the field that also ease commercial and military transport. The Iver4 provides an open interface and optional payload section for third party sensor providers to integrate their own hardware and software. Titanium and carbon fiber construction maximizes the useable volume in the pressure hull and decreases maintenance requirements when operating in harsh, open ocean environments.