Sweden’s Saab announced Jan. 8 it will demonstrate its AUV62-AT anti-submarine warfare (ASW) training system for the U.S. Navy as the service looks into an interim solution to replace its aging ASW target.
The announcement came ahead of the Surface Navy Association’s annual symposium.
The Navy has been using the MK 30 Mod 1 ASW target for over 30 years at its Undersea Warfare Training Range. It is a torpedo-sized underwater vehicle used to train surface ships, submarines, and aircraft.
Saab said its AUV62-AT is an artificial acoustic submarine that mimics a submarine in a manner compatible with all torpedo and sonar systems on the market. The overall package can train operators in submarine surveillance, detection, identification, classification, and target engagement, the company said.
The AUV62-AT is scheduled to be demonstrated and evaluated in comparison to the current Navy systems through the Foreign Comparative Testing (FCT) program this upcoming August for a notional 90-day period. The schedule also has an option to continue testing through 2019.
The company said the trainer, currently in service with several other countries, “fully replaces the use of a submarine in the role as a maneuvering training target and can be launched from a ship, a submarine, or shore.”
Chris Lade, a defense sales manager at Saab, highlighted how advanced the trainer is in an interview with sister publication Defense Daily. Both active and passive signatures emanate from it and it offers a post-exercise debrief/reconstruction capability.
“So it records what’s happened during the exercise, you can then download that afterward and analyze how well you’ve performed,” Lade said.
Saab also noted a feature of the AUV62 is that it can track drill ASW weapons fired at the target. The system tracks the drill weapons and determines if the weapon would have hit the target
Jon Kaufman, vice president of Saab North American submarine programs, said four Navy operators traveled to Sweden for five days to train on how to operate the AUV62-AT.
The service wants to operate the unit itself because acoustic signatures are some of the most sensitive details that navies protect, Kaufman told sister publication Defense Daily in an interview on Jan. 9. A Saab employee will also help the Navy through any assistance, repairing, or adjustments the Navy needs.
“The goal is we’ll bring it over here in August and it’ll go down to the Andros Island in the Bahamas where the AUTEC range is and they’ll operate it for 3 months with options to keep it longer,” Kaufman added.
Lade highlighted the AUV62 is being worked on in the UK as evidenced by its successful use during the 2016 Unmanned Warrior exercise. The UK Royal Navy-sponsored exercise demonstrated abilities of various unmanned vehicles.
During the exercise the simulator was deployed for two weeks with about six hours of total downtime.
“So it was very efficient and effective,” Lade said.
Kaufman underscored the existing MK 30 Mod 1 is plagued by obsolescence issues and the Navy, when talking to Saab, was looking for “an literally off the shelf, already vetted acoustic target.”
He added the AUV62 is technically a potential interim solution for 10-12 years because it may take that long to develop a new program and target.