The U.S. Navy Tests Saab’s ASW Training System

Submarines play a crucial role in maritime defense. Using such a vital naval asset as a target in Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) training is expensive and consumes resources. AUV62-AT is a low-cost alternative. (Photo credit: Saab)

For a three-month period in 2018, the Bahamas will play host to a demonstration of a new anti-submarine training device. According to Saab, anti-submarine warfare may be more necessary than ever in 2018.

The testing venue is known as the Atlantic Undersea Test and Evaluation Center. The anti-submarine warfare (ASW) device being tested is called the AUV62-AT, and it has already taken part in Unmanned Warrior—a U.K. showcase of the latest defense technologies from the private sector.

What Is the AUV62-AT and What Does It Do?

AUV62-AT isn’t exactly a vehicle itself, but rather a platform that provides a realistic target against which to demonstrate offensive and defensive capabilities. It is to war games what CPR dummies are to paramedics in training.

A key difference is that this dummy was designed by Saab, in part, to mimic the design and functionality of Swedish Mk. 62 torpedoes. These hallmarks give the AUV62-AT the ability to pose as both passive and active targets for training participants.

The platform is fully equipped to train users in how to detect and deal with enemy submarines. According to Saab’s defense sales manager, the AUV62 can transmit signals consistent with the profile of Russia’s Akula-class submarines.

As an active target, if training participants detect the AUV62 using sonar, it will send back a ping that accurately models an encounter with hostile submersibles.

Just as important as accuracy, however, is acquiring meaningful data and assembling actionable feedback about training encounters for participants. To that end, operators of the AUV62 platform can review post-exercise data that includes details on how participants behaved as they searched for the ASW trainer and whether and what types of operational errors were made.

Why Anti-Submarine Warfare and Why Now?

If the U.S. Navy’s evaluation period goes well, Saab hopes the AUV62-AT will become the official training paradigm for the USWTR, or Navy Undersea Warfare Training Range. The range is located in Jacksonville, Florida, and provides a host of immersive and advanced training modules so participants can acquire realistic experience with submerged targets and operating combat and defense systems. The facility is set to open in 2019.

This is good timing, too, according to Saab representatives, because the use of submarines throughout the world appears to be on the rise. For all their menace, the idea of submarines lurking off beyond coasts might sound unlikely. Nevertheless, training for this threat is emerging as a top priority for defense-minded U.S. government officials aware of India’s recent acquisition of submarine-hunting planes and the possibility of a more aggressive China protecting its maritime interests in the Malacca Strait, Indian Ocean and beyond. Reports even indicate India could build a wall of sensors in the Indian Ocean to further bolster preparedness.

As military technology goes, the AUV62 and the training facilities it may soon occupy look like steps in a productive direction: higher technologies applied to detection and nullification rather than pure force. 

─Megan Nichols

(Photo credit: Saab)

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