Government backs in ‘Ghost Sharks’ program to patrol, support Australian defence

Autonomous, stealthy undersea robots known as “Ghost Sharks”, capable of gathering intelligence, will become a centrepiece in Australia’s bid to bolster its ocean patrols and protections.

The Albanese government has doubled down in its commitment to delivering the Ghost Shark program, confirming it would become “mission zero” for the Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator, rendering it one of the highest priorities.

It came a day after Defence Minister Richard Marles announced the defence budget would be bolstered by $50bn over the next decade with an increased focus on naval capabilities in a bid to combat a more aggressive China.

Ghost Shark, which the government says will provide Navy with a “stealthy, long-range autonomous undersea warfare capability” would be able to conduct “persistent intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance and strike”.

Ten companies have already partnered with Defence’s major partner Anduril Australia to be ready to manufacture the vessel.

Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy said Ghost Shark was an “exemplar” of how Defence and Australian industry could “move at speed to develop new sovereign capabilities” to respond to the strategic circumstances.

“By transitioning Ghost Shark to (the capabilities accelerator), a clear statement is being made about Defence’s commitment to the program,” Mr Conroy said.

“ASCA is focused on speeding up the transition of innovation into capability that will give our Australian Defence Force an edge, while creating more jobs for Australians commercialising the technology.”

Head of ASCA, Emily Hilder, said the Ghost Shark mission was a “fast and innovative” way for Defence for pursue new technology that directly relates to urgent capability needs.

Meanwhile Navy chief, Vice Admiral Mark Hammond, said Ghost Shark was crucial to the defence force.

“The Albanese Government will deliver a sovereign, autonomous undersea capability, through the Ghost Shark Program,” he said.