Manned and Unmanned Submarine Teaming for Anti-Submarine Warfare

Submarine firing torpedo during anti-submarine warfare (ASW).

Submarine firing torpedo during anti-submarine warfare (ASW).

August 14, 2017 | Source: Military and Aerospace Electronics,, 28 July 2017, John Keller

U.S. military researchers are asking two U.S. defense contractors to develop bistatic sonar for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) that teams manned and unmanned submarines and capitalizes on the benefits of active sonar without compromising the stealth of U.S. attack submarines.

Officials of the U.S. Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) in Newport, R.I., has announced a $4.6 million contract to the BAE Systems Electronic Systems segment in Merrimack, N.H.; and a $4.7 million contract to Applied Physical Sciences Corp. in Groton, Conn., for the Mobile Offboard Command and Control and Approach (MOCCA) program.

NUWC awarded the contracts in February on behalf of the U.S. Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) in Arlington, Va. MOCCA seeks to enable manned Navy submarines to use active sonar pings from nearby unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) to detect and track enemy submarines at long ranges without giving away their presence to potentially hostile vessels.

The project seeks to use UUVs as pingers and manned fast attack submarines as listeners to conceal the presence of the manned attack sub. Using this technology the manned submarine could detect and target enemy submarines based on sonar returns from the UUV active sonar pingers.