To Overcome the Fear of Depths

Issue: 5 / 2018
RPK-8E anti-submarine rocket system; (Right, top) MG-94ME projectile; (Right, above) Paket-E/NK shipborne compact anti-submarine/anti-torpedo system.

In the 20th century, the centuries-long experience of large-scale naval battles quickly passed into oblivion. A deadly threat coming from depths became a new source of concern for surface ships. This is submarines, the most effective and formidable adversary in the sea and coastal theaters of operations. They are stealthy, well-armed and have long endurance. It is extremely difficult to detect and destroy them as they have a number of design advantages over surface ships, including in signature, freedom of maneuver in depth, detection range, which enables them to deliver a decisive preemptive strike.

The issue of surface ship defense against underwater attacks is particularly relevant for countries with a long coastline. Its significance necessitates them to protect their fleets, coastal and sea lines of communications from hostile submarines. The experience gained during fighting, numerous naval exercises and daily fleet training activities has shown that the anti-submarine warfare capability and the staying power of surface ships significantly increase when they are equipped with modern self-defense means. The latter primarily includes modern anti-submarine warfare (ASW) weapons, sonars and countermeasures against hostile weapons.

In combat conditions at sea, it is critically important to observe two principles. Firstly, when a surface ship detects torpedoes fired at it from a submarine, it should timely and promptly deceive and/or destroy the fired torpedoes. Secondly, when a hostile submarine itself is detected, the ship should ensure its immediate and assured destruction, otherwise, if sonar or visual contact is lost, the ship itself will quickly turn into a victim.

Russian defense manufacturers have long maintained lead in the development of a wide range of modern shipborne anti-submarine and anti-torpedo systems. Their products in the international market are represented by state intermediary Rosoboronexport. The Company offers a variety of shipborne ASW systems, missiles and torpedoes, both separately and as part of surface ships of various projects delivered for export.

The Paket-E/NK is a conceptually new shipborne compact anti-submarine/antitorpedo system that is second to none worldwide. It is designed to destroy submarines at ranges up to 10 kilometers and engage torpedoes attacking the ship at 800 to 100 meters. The effectiveness of torpedo defense of a ship equipped with such a system increases 3 to 3.5 times.

The Paket-E/NK system includes the Paket-E control system, launchers, Paket-AE special-purpose sonar, and weapon modules with 324mm small heat-seeking torpedoes and anti-torpedoes.

The Paket-E/NK can operate both independently and as part of a ship’s integrated anti-submarine/anti-torpedo system in automatic or automated mode. It is able to generate targeting data for small anti-submarine torpedoes based on data provided by ship’s sonars. In addition, the Paket system independently detects, classifies and determines the trajectory parameters of torpedoes attacking the ship and provides targeting data for anti-torpedoes. The Paket-E/NK provides control of launchers, weapon module prelaunch preparation, fire data input, launching of anti-torpedoes and small heat-seeking torpedoes.

Depending on customer requirements, the launchers of the system can be equipped with modules containing heat-seeking torpedoes and (or) anti-torpedoes in any combination. It depends on tasks assigned to the ship. The differences between these types of weapons lies in the fact that the small heat-seeking torpedo destroys submarines while the anti-torpedo is intended to engage attacking torpedoes. To monitor weapon modules in service, the system can be additionally fitted with an automated monitoring system.

The RPK-8E anti-submarine rocket system, designed to protect surface ships from submarines, attacking torpedoes and underwater saboteurs, also has high potential in the global arms market.

It features an increased kill probability against enemy submarines achieved through the use of the 212mm 90R anti-submarine rocket carrying a gravitational homing projectile that separates after splashdown. Among other things, the RPK-8E includes the RBU-6000 12-tube rocket launcher, upgraded MG-94ME sonar countermeasures projectiles designed to protect the ship from active/passive homing torpedoes.

The MG-94ME projectile is equipped with a separable drifting sonar counter-measures module which either jams the desired frequency bands or emits simulated ship noise. In a jamming environment, the receive paths of the torpedo homing system lose the ability to detect the ship, while in the simulated acoustic environment the torpedo homes onto the drifting sonar counter-measures module. The range of firing anti-submarine rockets and MG-94ME projectiles is 600 to 4300 meters.

All of the above models are based on underwater weapons that are in service with the Russian Navy and have proven to be effective in numerous tests and exercises. Ship self-defense should certainly be provided in an integrated manner. However, really lethal and reliable means are needed to ensure effective protection from underwater attacks. It is because of these qualities that Russian-made torpedoes, rockets, counter-underwater saboteur weapons and diverse sonar equipment enjoy strong demand in the international market.