Monday, January 30, 2012

Navy to bolster anti-submarine warfare capabilities with ‘listening sticks’

The 12 refushished P-3C Orion ASW aircraft that Taiwan has purchased from the US will be the likely platforms for the passive sonobuoys

The Taiwanese Navy is purchasing hundreds of specialized sonobuoys from the US to augment its anti-submarine warfare capabilities, a US Department of Defense notice said on Friday.

Under the Foreign Military Sale, Taiwan will acquire 440 AN/SSQ-53F sonobuoys for US$335,000, with work scheduled for completion by January 2014 (as part of the same deal, the US Navy is purchasing 49,900).

Sonobuoys, also known as “listening sticks,” are used to detect and identify moving underwater objects. The AN/SSQ-53F directional frequency and ranging (DIFAR) sonobuoy — the latest-generation passive sonobuoy used by the US Navy — is dropped from fixed-wing aircraft or helicopters and uses four hydrophones that operate at depths of 27m, 60m, 120m and 300m, as well as digital sound processors, to listen for enemy submarines.

Unlike “active” sonobuoys, which locate objects by bouncing a “ping” off a vessel, passive types gather emissions created by moving underwater objects. Aircraft can drop a pattern of sonobuoys, which relay information back to the aircraft by radio link to determine the exact location of enemy submarines.

My article, published today in the Taipei Times, continues here.

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