Sensors aboard many swarming unmanned vehicles threaten the stealthiness of global submarine technology

May 3, 2021
The world's oceans are becoming sensor-rich environments full of drones, with eyes and ears everywhere, leaving no hiding place for submarines.

LONDON – Submarines can run—but they can't hide—from drones. That's the contention of a new report by a British think tank, which argues that the growing numbers and sophistication of drones are depriving submarines of their stealthiness. The National Interest reports. Continue reading original article

The Military & Aerospace Electronics take:

3 May 2021 -- The report, authored by science journalist David Hambling for the British American Security Information Council, was written as a briefing paper for Britain's Parliament, which must consider whether to modernize or scrap the United Kingdom's Trident nuclear missile submarines.

Expensive submarines today must contend with an expanding array of inexpensive robot sensors and submarine hunters that can blanket the ocean. These include small handheld drones that operate in swarms, air-launched drones like the U.S. Coyote that can launch from ASW aircraft, and sonar-equipped underwater robot gliders that quietly search the ocean.

Sea- and air-based unmanned vehicles versus submarines essentially is an arms race between an expensive but fragile weapon and hordes of cheap sensor and weapons platforms. It parallels the race between the development of stealth aircraft, and the development of sensors to detect them.

Related: Northrop Grumman to integrate weapons and sensors payload delivery system for large unmanned submarines

Related: Unmanned submarines seen as key to dominating the world’s oceans

Related: Boeing to develop new payloads, capabilities, and missions for Orca large long-range unmanned submarines

John Keller, chief editor
Military & Aerospace Electronics

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