During the show, RTSYS’ Director of Business and Marketing, Pierre-Alexandre Caux, told Naval News that while the company was exhibiting in Singapore, its focus was on Southeast Asia more broadly. Instead of trying to compete in what he described as the “top 20%” of the market, RTSYS is instead focused on the other “80%” who demand affordable, simpler Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (UUV) and Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) target solutions.
The company’s biggest strength, Caux said, is its claimed ability to beat high-end players like Kongsberg and HII on acquisition cost by up to three times. This, he said, was critical because RTSYS aims to be a good option for smaller, less well-funded navies, as well as those who want a more controlled cost way to gain UUV experience before moving into the big leagues.
Critical to reducing cost, Caux said, was size. Whereas similar, more expensive UUVs like the REMUS Series are typically nine inches (22cm) in diameter, RTSYS’ lineup starts at 6 inches (15cm). Due to the smaller diameter, RTSYS’ UUVs have less internal space available and are unable to internally mount certain types of equipment that are ubiquitous on competing platforms. Instead, the UUVs make extensive use of alternative sensors that are mounted externally to perform the same mission sets. Caux gave the example of interferometric side-scan sonar replacing a multi beam echo sounder for certain kinds of mapping missions.
Despite making use of American components and sensors the company says that its products are not controlled by International Traffic in Arms Regulations (ITAR). This, theoretically, makes scoring export deals somewhat easier and reduces barriers to operating in certain markets.
In total RTSYS has sold its systems to twelve defence customers including France, Belgium, Germany, the Netherlands and various NATO navies. The company declined to name its other defence customers, citing confidentiality provisions, but suggested that they are “geographically dispersed.” It has also sold systems to hydrographic and scientific institutions the world over.
With increasing competition in the UUV industry, however, it remains to be seen if RTSYS can maintain its cost advantage over competitors. Additionally, given the company sees its products as a cheap way to gain experience, the question remains open regarding what happens when countries have gained experience and go looking for a more capable system.