A3SM: A True Game Changer for Submarine Self Defence against Threats from the Sky

(Navy Recognition)- As part of the Paris Air Show Navy Recognition was invited by DCNS to visit their factory located near Angoulême in southwestern France. The 260 year old site used to manufacture guns for the "French Royal Navy". It now specializes in the production of submarine equipment such as torpedo tubes and torpedo handling systems. It is also the place where the FREMM frigates' vertical launch systems are produced. The focus of the visit however was the A3SM, a new anti-air defence weapon system for submarine currently under development by DCNS and MBDA.

Representatives from both DCNS and MBDA gave us exclusive details on the A3SM project during our visit of the DCNS factory in Ruelle near Angoulême, southwestern France.

A3SM stands for Arme Anti-Aérienne pour Sous Marins (literally Anti-Air Weapon for Submarines). The project was first unveiled during Euronaval 2012 and it actually consists in two versions: a Mast version and an Underwater Vehicle version.

A3SM: What needs does it fulfill?
Today, submarines have no way to defend themselves against air threats. Submarine forces worldwide have an increasing need to operate close to shores in shallow waters. (As an example during the campaign in Libya, submarines were conducting intelligence missions close to shores). In such situation submarines are an easy target for helicopters and maritime patrol aircraft (MPA). When detected in shallow waters, there is no possibility for the submarine to escape, contrary to deep sea where they can employ various tactics and disappear. Up until now, submarines were harmless against air threats, while significantly cheaper and less complex naval platform like small Fast Attack Craft (FAC) may be fitted with a SAM solution.

It is this gap that DCNS and MBDA are looking to fill. The doctrine of use is not for the submarine to attack first. The submarine will keep trying to escape when faced with an air threat as it has always been the case. However the submarine will shoot it down if escape is not possible.

This fast reaction scenario leaves little time to react therefore calls for ready to fire, fire and forget weapons at all time.

Full article: http://www.navyrecognition.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=1100


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