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The hunt is over: advances in anti-sub warfare shine a light on subs.

AN EMERGENCY SIGNAL was picked up somewhere among the hundreds of small Islands that dot the coast around Stockholm, Sweden's capital city on Thursday, October 16, 2014.

Ordinarily, what follows a distress signal is a precise set of procedures that click into gear as seamlessly as an old mechanical clock. Calls are made, plans are developed, put into action, and resources are drawn from the closest location to the emergency. Often, it's a false alarm. An EPIRB (eergency position-indicating radio beacon) gets knocked into the sea by a careless crewmember; a youngster grabs the VHF (very high frequency) radio and screams "Mayday! Mayday!" into the receiver to emulate what he's seen in the movies.

But this case was different. Swedish authorities detected a conversation between the vessel and a foreign naval base. Something was lurking in their territorial waters--an uninvited guest--and now they were in trouble. If found, the foray would be an embarrassing international Incident, played out in the media as an act that deliberately undermined Sweden's sovereignty.

By Friday, Sweden was in the process of mounting the largest mobilization of military assets since the end of the Cold War. "We will defend our territorial integrity with all available means," Sweden's Prime Minister Stefan Loefven commented. "The armed forces has the necessary power to prevent a foreign vessel from getting away with it ... and to do so with military force."

This was no longer a search and rescue mission. But, after nearly 10 days of searching ... nothing. Nothing except a grainy sonar image released by Sweden's armed forces showing subsea tracks left behind by a mini-submarine.

So what's the lesson here? Are we forever doomed to submit to the evasive mastery of the submarine? Will it always be able to slip silently by while our warships bob exposed and unaware on the surface?

This may be bad news to anyone still holding out for a sequel to The Hunt for Red October, but recent developments In anti-sub warfare will more than likely spell the end of sub vs. warship, cat-and-mouse blockbusters.

ATLAS ELEKTRONiK's recent contract with the Indian Ministry of Defence for the delivery of six active towed array sonar systems (ACTAS) in 2016 will deal a large blow to foreign states looking to do a little covert surveillance work under the surface of India's territorial waters--and Canada Is taking note.

ACTAS, an advanced low-frequency anti-submarine warfare (ASW) sonar system, may not look menacing on the outside, but depending on who you are, its inner workings could be scary as hell. In ideal conditions, ACTAS's range can exceed 60 kilometres, vastly outperforming the onboard radars and weapon systems employed by submarines.

The implications of this technology are huge. Canada is not Immune to the probing efforts of nations that use submarines to clandestinely defy our territorial boundaries. Pierre Leblanc, a retired colonel and former commander of the Canadian Armed Forces' northern command told the National Post that "foreign submarines have been travelling through the Canadian Arctic for decades, but the federal government usually finds out about it only by accident."

As the Ice melts in the Arctic, the accessibility of the region rapidly Increases. Canada has an opportunity to change its current tactic for enforcing sovereignty by taking a hard look at developments in ASW technology--some of which are being created In our own backyard. And because the topic of sovereignty In this country has been on the front burner for some time, chances are good that Canada will be keen to take advantage.

In most circumstances, identification of foreign subs through technology such as ATLAS ELEKTRONIK's ACTAS would be enough to deter further Incursions. No country wants to risk a potentially embarrassing International incident If the odds are good it may be caught.

But on a war footing--or when dealing with a potentially hostile enemy--Canada's ships need to be prepared for decisive action. As Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's eponymous protagonist put it in The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes, "It is stupidity rather than courage to refuse to recognize danger when it is close upon you."

For most surface-based warships, the danger from enemy subs isn't the vessel itself, but the swift and accurate projectiles that come hurtling out of their torpedo tubes. Scores of allied ships in WWII were sunk by these unseen menaces, many of which were taken by surprise, unable to mount a defence.

Beyond detection, what can Canadian warships employ to defend against an incoming torpedo? Up until now, the answer has been: Not much. That's why the Canadian government formulated a hardkill torpedo defence requirement that states the requirement to fit anti-torpedo torpedoes (ATTs) on all major Royal Canadian Navy platforms (frigates, support ships, submarines).

Enter ATLAS ELEKTRONIK's SeaSpider anti-torpedo torpedo, billed by the company as "The World's First ATT Effector." Using a homing (active, passive and intercept) sonar, ATLAS ELEKTRONIK claims that the SeaSpider "will bring short response time/high probability of intercept capability currently experienced in the above water warfare environment to the underwater warfare environment." In other words, the underwater playing field has just been levelled.

The current state of world affairs provides enough evidence to reason that what happened in Sweden will eventually happen again, in that country and in Canadian waters. Current ASW technology means our ships no longer have to fumble in the dark for wayward submarines. Let's take advantage of it.

Caption: ABOVE RIGHT: A torpedo specifically designed to destroy other torpedoes. Submarines once ruled the subsea environment with impunity. However, advancements in anti-submarine warfare (ASW) technology --like ATLAS ELEKTRONiK's SeaSpider technology--have certainly levelled the playing field for surface ships. (ATLAS ELEKTRONIK)

Caption: OPPOSITE PAGE: The recent appearance of a "mystery sub" in Sweden raised fears of a resumption of cat-and-mouse Cold War games. Fortunately, available ASW technology means that submarines will have fewer places to hide. Here, a towed array deployed from the stern of a warship has detected an incoming torpedo, triggering the swift and accurate response of an ATLAS ELEKTRONIK anti-torpedo torpedo (ATT), currently being offered to the Canadian military. (ATLAS ELEKTRONIK)


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Title Annotation:EYE ON INDUSTRY
Author:McNaught, Jason
Publication:Esprit de Corps
Geographic Code:4EUSW
Date:Jun 1, 2015
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