Old 26th Jun 2017, 12:57
  #57 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2000
Location: Just behind the back of beyond....
Posts: 3,911
Bloodhound Loose,

I've been thinking (always dangerous!) and I'm not sure that the Saab folk have a Cold War lens (I'm happy to accept that I do, and even that my filter of what they and others say may give and undue Cold War influence). They do bang on about the company's competence in modern post-Cold War ASW, and especially about the fact that the company (in the shape of its new Kockums subsidiary) builds "the world’s most modern submarine".

I've also been thinking about MAC, high level ASW, etc.

The Multi-Static Active Coherent (MAC) sonobuoy processing programme is extremely new, it began developmental testing in 2012 and operational testing in early FY13 (on P-3Cs, with P-8A testing deferred). My understanding is that it uses a mix of source and receiver buoys, employing non-coherent sources to produce the sounds that reflect off submarine targets (including multiple pings, optimized waveforms, and various ping durations); these echoes are then detected by receiver buoys. US Navy papers seem to indicate that it is primarily intended for large-area active acoustic searches for threat submarines.

I’m not sure as to how the US MAC concept differes from the Multistatic Active (MSA) that has been undergoing tests by a global community of military, industry and research communities for decades, but whose operational results have been modest, or at least not entirely robust in all situations and environments.

With this in mind I would ask a couple of questions:

Firstly, are we looking at a technology that does represent the future (though perhaps not as it is in its current form) but that is immature – like guided missiles were in the 1960s, when we raced to ditch the gun for air-to-air combat in favour of promising semi-active radar homing missiles….. which weren't actually operationally viable for another ten years or more?

Secondly, are we looking at a technology that will or should be augmenting existing ASW technologies (especially passive acoustic detection, which has been making great strides) rather than entirely replacing them?

Has the P-8A’s platform ethos and CONOPs been too closely and tightly based on MAC as a universal ASW panacea – rather than seeing Multistatic as one tool in the ASW toolbox (perhaps the most useful one?), but one that should be used alongside well-practiced and proved passive and active methods? Would the latter approach not mitigate against a medium-to-hgh level CONOPS?

Or are we expecting ROE that would allow one to engage a target based on a single source (acoustics) alone? P-8A has no MAD to confirm a target’s position, and from altitude, and against a sub-surface target EO/IR is presumably unlikely to be any more or less helpful than radar.

The P-8 enthusiasts always say that: “Operating at medium to high altitude maximizes sensor performance" I can see that is true of radar, and of ESM, but it isn’t true of EO/IR (where being below cloud is surely necessary?), it isn’t true of MAD and in acoustics, altitude surely brings greater possibilities of RF interference?

I’m also unconvinced that you can get buoys or weapons into the water as quickly or as accurately from medium-to-high altitude, nor that this consideration is no longer valid, and is purely Cold War thinking – though I’m open to being convinced on all these fronts.

I’m also wondering about the implications of dropping sonobuoys and weapons through layers of precipitation, variable winds and busy airspace…..

Questions, questions……
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