Navy heightens underwater monitoring

By the year end, sailors of the Northern Fleet will acquire a second stationary sonar system, the MGK-608M.

By the year end, sailors of the Northern Fleet will acquire a second stationary sonar system, the MGK-608M.
The struggle for the Arctic is not happening just on the surface, but also under the waters. Scientists are advocating an expansion of boundaries of the Russian shelf in the Arctic Ocean in the relevant UN bodies. While industry prepares to develop the huge reserves of natural resources on the Arctic shelf, the military is preparing to defend this wealth.

To defeat an enemy, it is first necessary to find him. While this is a fairly simple task in the air and on the surface, the only means of detecting objects located underwater; hydro-acoustic stations; are so inferior to common radar, that early detection and destruction of an unseen underwater enemy often requires Herculean efforts.

As a result of the “Struggle for the Arctic,” Russia has been working on the development of a modern long range sonar system, which will allow the military to see and control the underwater environment over several dozen nautical miles.

To protect its military-naval bases, Russia began in the 1950s to build stationary hydro-acoustic stations and systems. These were supposed to detect and monitor the movements of enemy submarines, and to ensure protection of the coastal waters and approaches to coastal infrastructure projects.

In those years, the Soviet Navy placed into service the first such stations, the ‘Volkhov’, which were subsequently shipped to Egypt and China. In the 1960s the Navy acquired the MG-407 and MG-409 stations, as well as the omni-directional station Amur, with an antenna around 20 meters in diametre and a displacement of 500 tons, and the leading-edge station Liman. The latter ensured the reliable detection of an enemy in the vicinity of the North Arctic Ocean’s ice edge (which later became the Liman-M station). The best performing such stations were the stationary Agam and Dnestr-M stations.

After the collapse of the Soviet Union and the drastic reduction of funding, work in this area either stopped completely, or was drastically curtailed and limited to practical implementation. With the large-scale Russian Armed Forces modernization programme being launched, military leaders again realized the need to monitor the underwater environment in parts of the national maritime borders.

Long-range sonar barrier

The Northern Fleet recently decided to expand the area covered by powerful stationary sonar equipment which, because of antennae located far in the ocean, is able to monitor the underwater environment located even hundreds of nautical miles from the coast. By the year end, sailors of the Northern Fleet will acquire a second stationary sonar system, the MGK-608M, developed by the Atoll Scientific-Research Institute.

Source: Press Photo

According to Russian sources, the remote section of this system will be located 160 km from the coastline and needs just four men to operate. The command post managing it will be located in Severomorsk.

The export version of the MGK-608E complex was successfully demonstrated this summer at the International Maritime Defence Show 2015 in St Petersburg. The system consists of several arrays of antenna, installed on the seabed. These are made up of receiving elements; hydrophones; which can be located at distances from tens to hundreds of kilometres from the coast.

The system also comprises special software and hardware. The brain is able to provide data integration not only underwater, but also in the atmosphere above the surface, as well as information about the air, land, and even space environments. It provides the ability to analyze and manage different situations, including issuing target information to manoeuvring forces. Russia’s Arctic Joint Strategic Command is capable of protecting the country from threats from the north because of these systems.

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