Navy asks Saab to build ASW unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) with sensors to mimic enemy submarines

Nov. 16, 2022
These sophisticated ASW training UUVs will help train Navy submarine, ship, and aircraft crews to detect, hunt, and destroy quiet enemy submarines.

NEWPORT, R.I. – U.S. Navy anti-submarine warfare (ASW) experts needed target underwater unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) that mimic the acoustic and non-acoustic signatures of advanced nuclear- and diesel-powered submarines. They found their solution from Saab Inc. in East Syracuse, N.Y.

Officials of the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) in Newport, R.I., have announced a $173.2 million contract to Saab to build, test, and deliver drones able to emulate the behavior and sensor signatures of enemy submarines to help Navy ASW experts practice their skills from surface warships, submarines, helicopters, and fixed-wing aircraft.

These Saab UUVs that can disguise themselves as potentially hostile submarines are called the MK 39 Mod 2 expendable mobile antisubmarine warfare training targets (EMATT).

These next-generation ASW training targets are designed to help Navy submarine-, surface ship-, and aircraft-based ASW forces train to detect, hunt, and destroy quiet enemy submarines.

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Navy aircraft and surface warship crews will use the EMATT to train in open-ocean, unrestricted, and on-range ASW training missions. The Navy can launch EMATT out of sonobuoy launchers on ASW helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft, and from moving surface warships.

The EMATT is 3 feet long, 5 inches in diameter, and weighs 22 pounds, so it is small enough to be dropped into the ocean by hand from ships or helicopters.

The submarine-emulating UUV has sensors that emulate acoustic and non-acoustic signatures of advanced nuclear- and diesel-powered submarines, and can operate for as long as eight hours on one battery charge.

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Control software for the Saab EMATT runs on a Windows PC or laptop computer, and can program the target's course, depth, speed, time, and passive tonal changes. The software also can program the EMATT to maneuver automatically in response to active sonar pings.

Saab engineers are designing the latest version of EMATT to be more affordable than previous generations of ASW training targets. The latest version has programmable acoustics, better representation of hostile submarines than previous versions, and acoustic communications links that Navy forces can use in daytime, at night, and in rough seas.

Saab will do the work on this contract in East Syracuse, N.Y., and with options should be finished by September 2032. For more information contact Saab online at, or the Naval Undersea Warfare Center-Newport at

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