One-on-One with Mark Kenny, GM, Unmanned Maritime Systems, L3Harris
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 Warfare missions.
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.