Training for the return of undersea warfare
Illustration: Chris Gash
Thanks to a major submarine deal between the U.S. and Australia announced last month, along with the growing threat from China, submarine fighting is top-of-mind in the public for the first time since the Cold War.
But submarine fleets have proliferated around the world for some time:
- Six nations now operate modern nuclear subs, according to Foreign Policy.
- Brazil and Australia will soon join the list.
- China will likely maintain between 65 and 70 submarines over the next decade, although many are non-nuclear.
- Russia also continues to grow its submarine fleet.
Quieter and more capable than their Cold War predecessors, enemy submarines pose a far greater threat. They can sink warships and strike targets on land more effectively, posing a major threat in the western Pacific and beyond.
Leidos is helping the Navy modernize the training process to detect them.
The challenge: Anti-submarine warfare (ASW) starts with knowing what lies beneath the surface, making sonar technology an integral part of the Navy’s self-defense.
But the physics of underwater sound are complex. Sonar technicians need specialized training to find, classify and track submarines.
The solution: The Navy launched a new virtual training system that decentralizes its training program, reducing costs and increasing efficiencies over a single training location. The virtual tool mimics the warfighter’s equipment, providing additional opportunities to practice their ASW skills in realistic underwater environments.
From the source: “The hardware virtualization is an economical solution that the Navy can utilize in classrooms around the world,” says Dan Newell, a Leidos expert in undersea surveillance. “The realism, accessibility and limited footprint of the simulation help support Sailor readiness.”
Newell’s Training Systems Engineering Team (TSET) and the Leidos Modernization Training Support Team (MTST) supported the project.
Zooming out: “The Soviet strategy during the Cold War was to overwhelm their adversaries with numbers, not capability,” Newell said. “That’s now changing, so we must increase our ASW capability to pace the threat and improve detection and accuracy. Today’s Sailors need new skills and focus, and solutions like these virtualized tools will help them succeed in tomorrow’s high-end fight.”
The system launched in the spring and will expand later this year. More than 2,000 Sailors have been trained using the new system and its prototypes since 2018.