Feeds

Raytheon to deliver 'paging system' for submarines

Seagoing lone wolves finally get BlackBerry treatment

The essential guide to IT transformation

US arms behemoth Raytheon has won a $5.2m contract to deliver its Deep Siren "tactical paging system" for submarines to the US navy.

Submarines, being underwater, are often hard to get in touch with. The only kind of radio which works at all is very-long-wavelength, which can be used to contact subs trailing special antennae provided they aren't too deep. This solution has sharply limited bandwidth and only works shore-to-ship. The only other option, historically, has been for the sub to come to persicope depth and put up a comms mast.

All this has meant that submarine captains were only in touch with higher authority at predetermined times, when they would slow down, come shallow and stream longwave receiving antennae - or put up masts - according to previous orders. If the sub was running fast and/or deep, tough. There was often no way to contact it. The submarine skipper remains one of the last of the truly independent decision-makers, living a blissful life out of touch with his bosses sometimes for weeks on end.

That was OK for the Cold War, when most of the subs' business involved independent, strictly maritime missions. Nowadays, however, the underwater warships need to get involved in modern combined operations, for which their new bosses would like to be able to reach them more easily - just like the hapless modern wage slave with his BlackBerry.

Hence Deep Siren, which is a fairly basic idea. A surface or air boss wishing to get in touch with a sub drops a small disposable buoy into the sea somewhere within a few tens of miles of the sub's location. The buoy has Iridium satcomms, allowing it to connect to the US military's Global Information Grid comms infrastructure.

From the buoy, the signal is passed on via an acoustic signal which can be picked up by the sub up to 50 miles away. The system is one-way, hence "paging system". The acoustic signal is unavoidably low-bandwidth, but then so is Iridium.

Each buoy can last for three days, including up to 30 minutes of acoustic transmissions, according to the Raytheon data sheet.

Raytheon got the job of developing Deep Siren back in 2005, and this latest contract is for delivery.

"Submarine communication protocols are much the same as they were 60 years ago," said Raytheon's Jerry Powlen.

"Integrating satellite communications with acoustic Deep Siren technology dramatically changes this paradigm by enabling a commander anywhere in the world to contact a submarine immediately regardless of the submarine's speed or depth."

In fact, the one-way nature of the link, the usually uncertain location of a submerged boat, and the unpredictability of marine acoustics would suggest that the kit may not be 100 per cent reliable. The Raytheon spec claims only "a high confidence of communicating reliably to a submerged submarine".

In many ways, you might say that the limited nature of Deep Siren indicates just how bad the existing options for communicating with submarines were. That said, Deep Siren is supposed to be just the first generation of a lot of new kit which will finally, properly bring the lone-wolf submarine captains under the heel of shore HQ like everyone else. ®

Gartner critical capabilities for enterprise endpoint backup

More from The Register

next story
Boffins attempt to prove the UNIVERSE IS JUST A HOLOGRAM
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy?
Our LOHAN spaceplane ballocket Kickstarter climbs through £8000
Through 25 per cent but more is needed: Get your UNIQUE rewards!
China building SUPERSONIC SUBMARINE that travels in a BUBBLE
Shanghai to San Fran in two hours would be a trick, though
LOHAN Kickstarter push breaks TWELVE THOUSAND POUNDS
That's right, folks, you've stumped up OVER 9000 beer tokens - and counting
SpaceX prototype rocket EXPLODES over Texas. 'Tricky' biz, says Elon Musk
No injuries or near injuries. Flight stayed in designated area
Galileo, Galileo! Galileo, Galileo! Galileo fit to go. Magnifico
I'm just a poor boy, nobody loves me. But at least I can find my way with ESA GPS by 2017
Astronomers scramble for obs on new comet
Amateur gets fifth confirmed discovery
prev story

Whitepapers

Best practices for enterprise data
Discussing how technology providers have innovated in order to solve new challenges, creating a new framework for enterprise data.
Implementing global e-invoicing with guaranteed legal certainty
Explaining the role local tax compliance plays in successful supply chain management and e-business and how leading global brands are addressing this.
Advanced data protection for your virtualized environments
Find a natural fit for optimizing protection for the often resource-constrained data protection process found in virtual environments.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?