By Johan Strandlund
VP of Marketing and Sales, Dynamics, Saab North America
Since the early 1990s, the U.S. Navy (USN) has focused on anti-air and anti-surface warfare – but now, the battlespace is moving underwater. Submarines and unmanned underwater vehicles (UUV) are seeing expanded operations worldwide, including those of a threatening nature. Twenty-five years ago, only a dozen or so countries were deploying submarines. Today, that number has climbed to 40.
Submarines armed with heavyweight torpedoes pose a threat that anti-surface missiles do not: the ability to destroy a massive vessel rather than simply disable it.
The U.S. Department of Defense (DoD) is taking action to combat these underwater threats. When Sweden and the United States signed a statement of intent in June to collaborate more closely on defense matters, the two countries agreed to prioritize armament cooperation and research and development efforts in underwater warfare. Additionally, the DoD's Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is developing the Anti-Submarine Warfare Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel, a UUV to "track quiet, diesel-electric submarines."
The USN is adapting by expanding its anti-submarine warfare (ASW) training operations. It is of utmost importance for Navy personnel to understand the complexity of the ASW environment and maintain ASW operational skills. Naval forces have participated in several ASW exercises in recent months, such as Operation Steel Trident and Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training. Additionally, the Connecticut-based Undersea Warfighting Development Center opened in September 2015, while construction of the Undersea Warfare Training Range in Florida remains on track for a 2019 opening.
Effective ASW training requires highly sophisticated and capable training equipment. At Saab, we believe that our AUV62-AT can support USN current platforms and future joint training exercises between the U.S. and its allies.
The AUV62-AT package trains the entire ASW force by covering the full spectrum of ASW activity: surveillance, detection, identification, classification, and target engagement. Able to launch from ship, submarine or shore, the system's vehicle is designed to replicate a range of submarines and to operate wherever the exercise is located. The system's mission planning system allows the exercise coordinator to define the exercise plan, while the portable evaluation computer records and analyzes mission data for immediate after-action reviews. Integrated logistics support is also available, ensuring that the entire system continues to operate smoothly over time. Additionally, the AUV-62 AT's cost efficiency aligns with DoD's tight budget and Better Buying Power 3.0 initiative.
ASW training is crucial to protecting the U.S. and its allies from emerging underwater threats. Saab's AUV62-AT can provide that training affordably, and keep the USN fully prepared for the future of naval warfare.