Submarines are one of the most effective weapons in the arsenals of modern defence forces. Capable of extreme quiet and stealth, they make it possible for navies to penetrate the defences of their opponents, from where they can undertake surveillance activities and launch attacks.
Given the considerable threat posed by such vessels, nations who want to ensure the integrity of their maritime borders need to have extremely effective anti-submarine warfare measures in place. “If you don't have adequate anti-submarine warfare capabilities, then you have a gap in your defences around your coastline”, explains Carl-Marcus Remén, Sales Director at Saab´s Business Unit Underwater Systems. “You are potentially allowing enemy submarines to work freely in your waters without any risk of detection.”
Passive measures such as mines and anti-submarine nets can play a role in anti-submarine warfare strategies, but the key emphasis is on Identifying, locating, and neutralizing enemy subs using assets such as surface warships, aircraft and other submarines. Identifying submarines from their sonar signature is a key tool in the armoury and demands a high level of skill and training from crews.
Remén explains training techniques for anti-submarine warfare range from the study of tactics and on-land simulations right through to small scale at-sea simulations and large-scale exercises involving a range of vessels and real submarines. While large, full-scale simulations provide crews with excellent, first-hand experience, they are expensive and require submarines to be taken away from their important regular duties – a major logistical challenge.
Saab has considerable experience in anti-submarine warfare, thanks in part to the emphasis that Sweden places on the security of its own waters. The company is now addressing the need for realistic and economical anti-submarine warfare training through the AUV 62-AT, an autonomous underwater vehicle designed for use as an acoustic target. Able to be easily launched from ships, the device closely mimics a range of different submarine characteristics, providing crews with a cost-effective way of practising their anti-submarine warfare drills
“The AUV62-AT allows crews to do everything from undertaking basic training to firing a torpedo at a target and to then conduct extensive evaluation afterwards” explains Remén. This means it is of use to everyone from experienced crews to navies wanting to expand their anti-submarine warfare capabilities.”
With navies in Sweden, Netherlands, Poland and Norway now upgrading their submarine programs, Remén expects to see far more use of unmanned technology in anti-submarine warfare over the coming years. “I think there’s going to be a lot of focus on using unmanned underwater vehicles and also unmanned surface vehicles instead of using ships for submarine hunting”, he says.