Anti-submarine Warfare is Critical for US Navy. Submarines still pose a threat to seaborne forces. More than 90% of joint military equipment (Army, Air Force, Marines) still flows by sea. A great deal of humanitarian aid (tsunami relief, hurricane relief, humanitarian evacuation) comes by sea. Therefore to defend our nation, to maintain freedom of the seas, to pursue our national interests, we need a very capable anti-submarine warfare force.
Sonars are eyes and ears of navy. Passive sonar (listening) is increasingly less effective as submarines become quieter. Frequently they can’t detect a submarine passively until he’s close enough to shoot. Active sonar (pinging) is more effective as it is not affected by submarine quieting improvements. While passive detection ranges are closing in, active detection ranges are moving out. However, training with active sonar in real-world environments is critical.
The Operational Environment has Changed. The threat has changed as the submarines are quieter today than they were during the Cold War. More submarines now operate closer to land, rather than in open ocean. A major potential threat to Sailors and ships are very quiet diesel-electric submarines that operate in such waters.
The littorals or shallow water is a very complex ocean environment. Having an instrumented training range on the East Coast will ensure that Sailors can conduct realistic training in all the scenarios they may face in future combat operations. The Navy needs this range because it increasingly operates in littoral, or near-shore, environments.
The Navy’s use of sonar, and the ability to test and train with it, is critical to U.S. operational readiness and national defense. ASW is a perishable skill that must be continually honed, both by the technicians who operate the sonar systems and the fleet assets that deploy the technology. Sailors must be ready to defend themselves and the nation on the first day of combat. USWTR’s proposed 500-square-nautical mile range would directly improve the readiness of Sailors who detect underwater threats by allowing them to train in shallow, littoral waters.
“Having USWTR will provide a significant enhancement to our ASW training effectiveness,” said Jene Nissen, environmental acoustics policy manager, U.S. Fleet Forces Command. “With an instrumented range a training event can be analyzed in real time and after the fact to determine what was done right and what was done wrong. From the information we can make corrections to the training, as well as our tactics and procedures to improve a ship, submarine or aircraft’s ability to conduct ASW.”
L3Harris Technologies has been tapped to enhance the US Navy’s undersea warfare capability.
The US Navy has awarded a US$393 million ($535.7 million) contract to L3Harris Technologies, which has been tasked with installing ‘Increment II’ and ‘Increment III’ of the Undersea Warfare Training Range (USWTR). The new contract, which follows 10 years of support provided by L3Harris on ‘Increment I’, is set to involve the replacement and upgrade the remaining underwater training range sites.
USWTR Increment I involved installing the ocean sensor and shore electronics subsystems across approximately 500-square-nautical-miles near Jacksonville, Florida.
Under Increments II and III, L3Harris will now upgrade and replace the previously installed systems at the US Navy’s three other range locations near Hawaii, Bahamas and southern California. Each range includes over 950 kilometres of undersea cables, several hundred sophisticated acoustic sensors, as well as shore-based control, display and processing facilities. The USWTRs technology is designed to enable ships, submarines and aircraft to track targets on the surface and subsurface for anti-submarine warfare training.