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A Superior Surveillance Platform


A Superior Surveillance Platform

The submarine will continue to play a leading role in tomorrow's IT-oriented defence force, when what is currently known as the RMA doctrine is implemented in practice. The submarine, which can operate unseen, can, in addition to its many other roles, also become the Swedish armed forces' primary source of intelligence, able to gather intelligence above and below the surface, for transmission in real time to a command centre. The submarine was a gatherer of intelligence earlier too. But in the new defence scenario, its role as intelligence gatherer will acquire a whole new dimension.

Tomorrow's submarine will be assigned a command function and will be capable of leading extremely complex maritime operations. According to the type of mission, whether combating air, sea or ground targets, personnel who are specially trained for the specific task or, quite simply, work remotely from another command centre can man the command centre. The submarine's main sensors are sonars for the detection of targets on and below the surface.

The trend is towards larger antennas, where the antenna system forms a unit that searches a broader range of frequencies. The hull-mounted antennas are complemented by a towed hydrophone array. Close to the surface, the submarine can use masts to raise sensors above the surface to detect targets in the air, on the surface or ashore. In future, the submarine will be able to lay chains of sensors, further enhancing its ability to rapidly gather intelligence. In areas where the threat to the safety of the submarine is deemed to be serious, it can deploy remote controlled UAVs as forward surveillance units. The submarine's suite of sensors is configured to meet the multiple requirements of surveillance/reconnaissance, as well as the classification and identification of targets above, on and below the surface.

The communication systems of the future will enable the submarine to communicate via a modern high-speed modem for digital receiving and transmission. The submarine is able to receive and process data from remote sensor systems below, on or above the surface, in precisely the same way that it transmits target data and its own position to the joint command centre. Broadband and real-time communications will be required of tomorrow's communication systems. The technology that makes such systems possible already exists, and the work is already in progress.

Another vital quality for this type of communication system is that it must be difficult to detect. For communication between the submarine and its base, a radio buoy - which can be released to the surface and then wound in - is a practical option, permitting communication via satellite. Another promising option is the use of an aerostat as a communications link. With an aerostat, communication is possible via a microwave link, laser link or by means of a new concept, known as a "retro reflector". With a retro reflector, instead of having to radiate traceable energy, the submarine modulates a signal that bathes the entire vessel. For real-time communications, fibre optics offer a promising option. As the submarine moves through the water, it can reel out optic fibre to enable real-time broadband communications.

From article by: Pär Dahlander, Kockums


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