Military Review

World crisis in military hydroacoustics

World crisis in military hydroacoustics

The American ship sonar reconnaissance "Stallworth".

Recently, panicky publications have appeared in the press about the crisis of military underwater acoustics — implying Soviet and Russian passive underwater acoustics. Among such publications is Viktor Kuryshev’s article “Under Water, Darkness and Silence” (“NVO” No. 16, 17.05.2013). Surprisingly, the developers of Russian hydroacoustic devices are silently shy about this. Let's calmly, relying only on the facts, we will understand the situation.


The main task of military hydroacoustics (meaning its passive mode) is the detection of submarines of a potential enemy. With the advent of nuclear submarines (APL), this task has become even more relevant, especially in relation to missile submarines. As in other species weapons, there is a confrontation (antagonism) between the noise of submarines and the range of its detection by the passive paths of hydroacoustic stations (GUS) of submarines. In the US, the first to realize the need to reduce the noise radiation of submarines. This has led to an increase in the efficiency of passive regimes of GUS by reducing their operating frequencies in order to compensate for losses in the detection range of submarines. Reception frequencies decreased from 8 kHz to 3 – 3,5 kHz, which led to an increase in the diameters of the receiving antennas of the HAC to 4,57 – 8,0 m while maintaining the accuracy of direction finding of the target.

In turn, the transition of American submarines to a single-shaft propulsion system, an increase in the diameter of the propeller to 8 m with a decrease in the number of its rotations to 100 rpm and an increase in the number of its blades to seven (with a special saber-shaped blade) resulted in a significant decrease in the level of noise radiation propeller, including at discrete frequencies of sound of its rotation. At the same time, considerable funds were invested - up to 20% of the cost of building a boat - to reduce the noise emissions of NPS machines and mechanisms, including at discrete frequencies, which led to a significant reduction in the noise emissions of modern US NPS submarines by more than 100 times with the first samples.

In response to this, passive sonar switched to the infrasound reception range of extended towed antennas with digital processing of received noise information with automatic selection of discrete components of the target noise spectrum and its classification. A similar modernization of the passive canal of boat GAS was observed both in the United States and on Soviet submarines (AN / SQQ - 5 and Skat - 3). The difference in the detection range of low-noise targets by the Soviet and American boosted GAS was due to the difference in the noise emission of the American and Soviet submarines, which the Soviet submarines significantly exceeded the level of the American noise emissions by the end of the 80-s. This naturally led to a difference in the range of their detection. Thus, this brief excursion into the development of passive hydroacoustic equipment showed the absence of errors in the development paths of the Soviet GAS PL as compared with the US ones.

However, as early as the beginning of the 90s, unlike the American submarines, the third-generation Russian multi-purpose most low-noise submarines (the 971 project) effectively used non-acoustic means of detecting US Navy submarines following their wake (thermal and radioactive), which was Wednesday to five hours after the passage of the boat.


As for the statement of Viktor Kuryshev in the article “Underwater conditions of darkness and silence” that now the newest boats of the US Navy of the Virginia class are “fully equipped with vector-phase hydrophones”, this is not true. In the USA, only the possibility of using a conformal antenna array with oscillating velocity receivers on boats of this series (after SSN-783 "Minnesota") is being considered. However, at present, the high cost of the antenna and the complexity of its maintenance are the main obstacles to its use in submarines.

As for the “World Ocean Under Control”, citing data on the current use of various hydroacoustic facilities of the US Navy for hydroacoustic reconnaissance in the World Ocean, Viktor Kuryshev knowingly misleads readers, since these unreliable data indicate a large scale of US hydroacoustic reconnaissance . Thus, due to the reduction of the noise level of the third generation of Soviet (Russian) nuclear submarines, the effectiveness of the SOSUS noise-direction-finding system has sharply decreased. The reduction in financial allocations for the operation of the SOSUS system (from 335 mln. Dollars in 1991 to 20,5 mln. Dollars in 1995) resulted in a significant reduction in the staff and closure of its coastal posts. Currently, the 28 BGAS of the SOSUS 24 system is conserved, and the remaining four are used by civilian funding to solve the problems of determining whale migration routes and a number of hydrographic tasks.

At the present time, for the same reasons, the maneuverable SURTASS system was significantly reduced, in which in the period from 1993 to 1996, 12 (from 18) of the Stalworth-type hydroacoustic reconnaissance (QGAR) ships were withdrawn from the US Navy. Some of them were put on conservation, and the rest transferred to a number of interested US organizations and sold to other countries. As of today, only three KGARs of the TAGOG-19 "Viktories" type and one of the TAGOS-23 "Impekble" types - FAGOG-23 remain in the maneuverable hydroacoustic reconnaissance forces of the US Navy. One ship is in reserve. All KGARs are attributed to the Pacific Navy and World War II. In the advanced areas of the Pacific zone, the KGAR appears only sporadically.

Touched the contraction and aviation component of sonar reconnaissance system. Currently, the U.S. Navy aviation is receiving a new Poseidon P-8A base aircraft (created on the basis of the Boeing-737-800 passenger aircraft). According to the Pentagon’s military procurement plans, the Navy will receive 2018 R-117A aircraft by the end of 8, which should replace the 225 Lockheed Martin P-3C Orion used today, that is, halving the anti-submarine wing is planned.

I am sure that the experience of the Americans in creating a system of control over the World Ocean will be used to create the Russian Unified State System for Lighting Surface and Underwater Situations.


Go ahead. We are now aware of the three main causes of the crisis of the Russian (Soviet) hydroacoustics and the inability of the Navy command to independently understand the hydroacoustic deadlock. Let's see how this is the case in the US Navy and its NATO allies in the hydroacoustic complexes that are in service with nuclear submarines. Thus, the standard SAC of the US Navy nuclear submarines of the AN7 SGG-5 type and its numerous modifications with digital processing of received signals, the classification mode and the used towed extended antenna operating in the passive mode showed low efficiency in detecting low-noise targets. It is unable to carry out continuous covert surveillance of Russian modern submarines at a safe distance in a wide range of weather conditions.

In February, the 1992 of the United States Navy SSN-689 Baton Rouge (Los Angeles-type) as a result of a covert tracking of a nuclear submarine collided with a Russian submarine of the 945 project in the 12-mile Russian zone. In March, the 1993 of the Barents Sea also resulted from a secret tracking attempt by the US Navy SSN-614 “Grilling” (such as “Sturgeon”) nuclear submarine with the Russian strategic rocket carrier K-407 of the 667BDRM project (Delta-4). The Russian nuclear submarines in the collision received damage to the light hull and were repaired. As for the US submarines, the command of the US Navy decided that it was cheaper to withdraw them from the combat strength of the Navy.

As the SAC of the American nuclear submarines improved, clashes continued, moreover between American ships. Thus, on the night of 19 on 20 in March of 2009, the SSN-688 “Hortford” (of the “Los Angeles” type) collided with a landing-helicopter-docking ship (DVKD) LPD-18 “New Orleans”. The incident occurred in the Strait of Hormuz. As a result of the collision, 15 people were slightly injured on the submarine. The fuel tanks were damaged on DVKD, which resulted in 95 spills of thousands of liters of fuel. The US Navy cruiser “San Jacinto” and the US nuclear submarine SSN-765 “Montpellier” 14 in October 2012, collided during exercises near the US East Coast. The incident occurred on Sunday around 15.30 local time. This list can be continued by the collisions of the US Navy's multi-purpose submarines with fishing vessels of various countries, including in the 2014 year.

The most significant in this respect was the collision that occurred on the night of 3 on 4 in February of 2009. At great depths in the completely calm atmosphere in the central part of the Atlantic Ocean, the two most advanced nuclear-powered submarines of the British Navy, Vanguard, and the French Navy, Triumphator, collided during combat duty. The French nuclear submarine struck the British nuclear submarine with its nose into the cutting area at a short turn and, in all likelihood, not at a right angle, otherwise the consequences would have been more serious. “Vanguard” with noticeable dents on board (there was a question about its write-off) was towed to the port of Fanstein (Scotland). The French boat reached Brest under its own power, but received serious damage to the sonar fairing and the bow horizontal rudders.

This collision of the two newest missile submarines of the leading NATO countries demonstrated that, despite the perfect sonar weapons, they did not see each other even at close range due to the low level of their noise radiation.


Summing up the considered hydroacoustic detection of modern submarines, we can conclude that the “crisis of military underwater acoustics (boat)” is observed in all highly developed maritime states and this is explained by the laws of physics, and not by the errors of the developers of hydroacoustic facilities.

To get out of this situation, it is necessary to look for new, including non-acoustic, methods and algorithms for detecting low-noise targets. And to the author of the article “Under Water, Darkness and Silence,” I would recommend the reserve lieutenant commander to read the following books useful for him: V. Gordienko, V. Ilyichev. "Vector-phase methods in acoustics." M .: Science, 1989; Malyshkin G.S. "Optimal and adaptive methods for processing hydroacoustic signals." SPb .: Concern Central Research Institute Electroprib, 2011; Beletsky, Yu.S. "Methods and algorithms for contrast detection of signals against interference with a priori unknown characteristics." M .: Radio engineering, 2011.

In conclusion, it should be noted that the author’s statement that “specialists know that the most labor-intensive research and development work at enterprises actually carry out groups of specialists from 5 to 15 people and no more,” indicates that the author never worked at enterprises and I did not create with the group of 10 employees hydroacoustic complexes consisting of 67 (AN / BQQ-5B) or 122 (“Skat-3”) equipment racks, not counting antenna complexes - up to six per boat. The same applies to COTS technologies, the equipment of which does not pass military acceptance and cannot provide trouble-free operation in various climatic and vibro-impact conditions. Let this technology be used by the US and NATO allies (in disinformation order) or in their office equipment.

Saving the newspaper page, I left without attention many more controversial points, but I think that what is presented here is enough to create a certain opinion about the article reviewed.
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  1. ReifA
    ReifA 16 February 2014 08: 29
    There are enough "alarmists", part of this phenomenon is due to the lack of information. As for the information, I'm not sure whether it is worth informing the public about the latest developments.
    1. Bronis
      Bronis 16 February 2014 11: 37
      Quote: ReifA
      But as for the information, I'm not sure whether it is worth informing the public about the latest developments.

      Probably worth it now. In general, there are 2 approaches. 1. Keep silent about everything and keep everything secret, as it was in the USSR. BUT then there was a cult of the army, great and invincible. This more than covered everything and "explained" secrecy to people.
      Times have changed ... confirmation is needed. In addition, there is also a war in the media environment. To tell what is possible does not mean to tell how. The United States, as a rule, does so. Sometimes PR goes even ahead of opportunities.
      1. Boa kaa
        Boa kaa 16 February 2014 20: 41
        Quote: Bronis
        there is also a war in the media environment.

        I really liked the article. The main thing she washed away the sediment of inferiority and hopelessness, which remained after reading "In the underwater atmosphere of darkness and silence."
        And the Americans are PR managers! How many times our submarines brought a bunch of contacts, including many hours! - themselves remaining undetected. And with the advent of new methods of processing G / A signals with the use of computer systems, they completely lost their leadership. One thing is bad: we still have few such submarines. But, starting with 971, we are not inferior to them, and considering that we have SOKS on boats, amers need to behave more modestly.
        1. rolik
          rolik 17 February 2014 00: 08
          Quote: Boa constrictor KAA
          . And with the advent of new methods of processing G / A signals with the use of computer systems, they completely lost their leadership.

          Not only in this regard, they lost their leadership. Our last boats, recently put into operation, are covered with a completely new coating (I already mentioned this in previous comments). So thanks to this coating, mattress acoustics are no longer destiny and can drink coffee on the shore.
        2. Sirocco
          Sirocco 17 February 2014 03: 09
          Quote: Boa constrictor KAA
          And the Americans are PR managers!

          Do not forget the fact that the United States has always overestimated the performance characteristics of its products, and the USSR and Russia, that is, we, have always underestimated. The worst thing is unknown, unknown is uncertainty,
    2. rolik
      rolik 17 February 2014 00: 03
      Quote: ReifA
      There are enough "alarmists", part of this phenomenon is due to the lack of information.

      These are not alarmists at all, rather people who want to show their "knowledge" more than they really are. This is done, in my opinion, with one goal to take a step slightly higher than the previous one, in order to get more money than before. Well, how can a competent specialist get paid much more. The whole trouble is that often these articles are read by people who are little versed in this issue, taking everything heated up by the "expert" for the truth.
  2. Duke
    Duke 16 February 2014 09: 16
    MGK-540 Skat-3 is a sonar system with a digital information processing system. It includes a bow antenna, two onboard vertically developed antennas, as well as a flexible long towed antenna. Earlier analogues: MGK-500 Skat, MGK-503 Skat-KS (analog) and MGK-520 Skat-BDRM.
    1. Sirocco
      Sirocco 17 February 2014 03: 14
      Quote: Duke
      as well as a flexible long towed antenna.
      I want to say that the Americans, having lost the antenna, did not immediately understand the reason for the loss, here is the modern system. request
      On October 31, 1983, a boat under the command of Captain 2nd Rank V.A. Terekhin monitored the USS McCloy frigate, recording the operation parameters of the TASS (Towed Array Surveillance System) secret submarine detection complex. While passing behind the stern of the frigate, the boat touched the towed low-frequency sonar antenna of the complex with a screw, which was a long cable with sensors. The antenna wound around the propeller of the boat, the submarine almost lost its course and made an ascent. Arriving at the scene, the American destroyers Peterson and Nicholson escorted the boat for 10 days, trying to return the antenna. To prevent possible capture, the boat was prepared for an explosion. The arriving Soviet ship Aldan towed a K-324 to Havana, from where the antenna was delivered as quickly as possible by plane to the USSR for study.
  3. Indifferent
    Indifferent 16 February 2014 09: 31
    Not quite clear! Some write that it is possible to use the perturbations of the water created by the boat at certain frequencies, and to develop sonar equipment on this principle. Then even the quietest boat will be discovered at a great distance. I read about it more than once.
    Here they write about the crisis of sonar and the need to develop non-sonar detection methods.
    Where the truth is is not clear.
    By the way, back in the 70s, great hopes were placed on neutrino detection methods for boats. After all, the boat’s reactor emits a huge amount of neutrinos. It is enough to place several detection stations on the ground and you can detect all boats in the ocean. Earth and water for neutrinos are transparent. Also, the task turned out to be daunting and was never solved.
  4. Svetlana
    Svetlana 16 February 2014 10: 17
    if you scan the ionosphere above the Arctic Ocean with a focused microwave (HF) beam from a headlamp similar to HAARP or Voronezh,
    bringing the RF power to breakdown, polarized extraordinary waves (whistling atmospheres) arise
    which along the lines of force of the earth’s magnetic field can penetrate to a depth of 1000 m of conductive salt water. And bounce back
    from vortex inhomogeneities of a nuclear submarine wake. With this reflection, the polarization of extraordinary waves can be modulated
    the characteristic frequencies of the satellite footprint. Reflected unconventional waves can be received and analyzed by tracking stations.
    1. ARS56
      ARS56 16 February 2014 11: 51
      Chatterbox - a godsend for the enemy.
      1. potomak8
        potomak8 16 February 2014 12: 01
        but not always
    2. The comment was deleted.
  5. scientist
    scientist 16 February 2014 11: 25
    The methods of measurements in the underwater location when processing sound waves do not differ much from the principles of radar, of course with its own maritime specificity. Therefore, the optimal technical solution for passive direction finders, with a significant reduction in the noise of underwater objects, can only be detection methods based on the use of re-reflected sound waves from various marine sources, which in principle are always full in the oceans.
  6. chunga-changa
    chunga-changa 16 February 2014 12: 41
    The Americans are reducing and conserving the means of detecting submarines, including due to the very low activity of Russian submarines. For the sake of one submarine going on combat duty a year, it does not make sense to contain so much equipment. There is one more point that the author bypassed. The collisions between the western submarines, speak not so much about the low characteristics of their passive sonar, but about the low noise of the boats, the noise of which has already reached or lower than the background noise of the sea. In this vein, the absence of collisions between our boats indicates that they either float very little, or they hear each other perfectly. There are problems with detection, and they need a solution. Americans, for example, are going to switch to active detection and tracking using unmanned aerial vehicles. Given the low intensity of trips of our submarines, this is probably the cheapest.
    1. Boa kaa
      Boa kaa 16 February 2014 21: 46
      Quote: chunga-changa
      The collisions between the western submarines, speak not so much about the low characteristics of their passive sonar, but about the low noise of the boats, the noise of which has already reached or lower than the background noise of the sea.

      Background (biological) sea noise is an irregular, chaotic process. But the "singing" of the turbine and the beating of the hull and mechanisms of the boat is a natural, repetitive process. Therefore, there are mat methods of summing (accumulating), determining and displaying them on oscilloscopes screens. This is the question of theory.
      But! Everyone forgets that water is not air. There is such a thing as HYDROLOGY of the sea, which depends on the temperature (density) of the layers of water, and therefore the speed of sound propagation in water also depends on this. In particular, the author did not mention this, but in vain. With the 7 type of hydrology, the sound beams are bent backward, under the submarine case.
      Example: we are in the NP, we go to the torpedo, which raises 53-65K. Officer of the watch: hydroacoustist - to Mosttik (navigating station): Bearing to TL? - G / a-running: I do not hear him! (And we can see him perfectly!) - Head of RTS! What's the matter!? - Comrade Commander, 7th type of hydrology ... Do you think there will be guidance? - And where will it go: the "head" shines up!
      Boats collide because caps sometimes do not take into account the nuances: what type of hydrology in the area. And for this you need g / a incision more often to do, well, etc.
      And you say peacocks! (C).
  7. rezident
    rezident 16 February 2014 14: 43
    Hydroacoustics is probably the most classified area in military technology. About detection by radioactive and thermal trail most likely a duck. If this was possible then everyone used it.
  8. Nayhas
    Nayhas 16 February 2014 16: 39
    Interestingly, the article in response to ... was almost a year late. Perhaps the author has long nurtured the answer ... In essence, his answer is an attempt to prove that everything is not so bad because everyone is bad. The attempt is not entirely successful.
    in the early 90s, unlike the American nuclear submarines, the Russian multi-purpose most low-noise nuclear submarines of the third generation (971th project) effectively used non-acoustic means for detecting the US Navy by their wake trace (thermal and radioactive), which remained in the environment until five hours after the passage of the boat.

    I don’t know how then, but now it’s far from new, Virginia has nuclear submarines equipped with equipment for detecting wake marks.
    the latest boats of the US Navy class "Virginia" "are fully equipped with vector-phase hydrophones", then it does not correspond to reality. In the USA, the possibility of using a conformal antenna array with vibrational velocity receivers on boats of this series (after SSN-783 Minnesota) is only being considered. However, at present, the high cost of the antenna and the complexity of its maintenance are the main obstacles to its use in submarines.

    Yes, fiber optic hydrophones are installed in the conformal antennas of Virginia nuclear submarines, which the author modestly kept silent about. Vector-phase hydrophones are certainly better, but their absence does not mean a gap in the search for low-frequency acoustic sources. Optical fiber hydrophones, on the contrary, are considered the most promising.
    Further, the author believes that the United States lost many opportunities for conducting sonar reconnaissance of the oceans and cites as an example the abandonment of SOSUS, decommissioning of ships of sonar reconnaissance, replacement of Orions by Poseidons in a ratio of 2 to 1. But this is not so. As already indicated above, due to the fact that the giant nuclear fleet of the USSR died, the USA no longer needed to conduct total control. It’s pointless to keep SOSUS for the sake of two or three domestic submarines. It would seem to be needed in the Asia-Pacific region, but you can’t drag it there. Hydroacoustic reconnaissance vessels are also not particularly needed, their functions will be performed by LCS ships equipped with towed ASGs, PLO and NPA helicopters (uninhabited underwater vehicles). Regarding Poseidon-class airplanes, one should not forget that they will be a system of several Triton UAVs and Poseidon airplanes. The anti-submarine capabilities of Poseidon are much higher than those of Orion, and in conjunction with the capabilities of the Triton UAV, on the contrary, reinforcement of anti-submarine aircraft is actually carried out.
    So the article by VE Kuryshev "In an underwater environment, darkness and silence" is more relevant than ever, I recommend reading.
    1. Boa kaa
      Boa kaa 16 February 2014 22: 42
      Quote: Nayhas
      VE Kuryshev's article "In an underwater environment, darkness and silence" is more relevant than ever, I recommend reading.

      Do you have good arguments confirming the false position of Yuri Beletsky? If there is - please bring them, do not hide them in yourself ...
      But, to the point.
      I always "liked" when "drops" taught older commanders. They were afraid of their cap, because he knew the value of such a "overthrower of authorities" in his ship affairs.
      Second, the no one denies the gap, but it has been narrowing all the time. And finally, am. the admiral, commander of the PWB on the Atlantic, was forced to admit that at speeds up to 6,0 knots they don’t hear our last boats. This is with their much-praised G / A. But our 971 project spotted an American masked by the noise of the escort ship when he left the plant in Severodvinsk. In shallow water, mind you! Where the reverb clogs the inlet tract worse than the dust of a vacuum cleaner filter for months in an untidy apartment. Isn't that an indicator!
      And thirdly, if you set the task: to prove that only black pebbles are on the beach, then only black stones are collected (biased). But to expose this trick can only those who have previously been on this beach. Most of them have never been there, so they trustingly blaspheme the word, without being specialists in this field of knowledge.
      Unfortunately, human psychology is so arranged that he believes in bad things right away and finally, but as for good things, he always doubts: what if it’s not true, and I’ll find myself in a ridiculous position. Therefore, the habit of critically looking at things has taken root in us, which, in general, is correct.
      And the last one. As a former submariner, I always said that the enemy, worse than PLO aircraft, is not for the submarine. Attempts to arm the nuclear-powered ballistic missile defense ships — rather, from the hopelessness and absence of their carrier-based fighter aircraft in the RBD and along the routes of the deployment of nuclear submarines. So we are forced to go to the coastal, airborne, better closed, like Okhotsk, seas. The benefit of the range of weapons allows this to be done. The Chinese, I think, will follow the same path, outlining the maneuvering forces of the submarine’s submarines on maintenance. IMHO.
      1. rolik
        rolik 17 February 2014 00: 14
        Quote: Boa constrictor KAA
        You have good reasons.

        In addition to the plus and this picture has nothing to put good Briefly, in fact, beautiful!
      2. Nayhas
        Nayhas 17 February 2014 12: 43
        Quote: Boa constrictor KAA
        Do you have good arguments confirming the false position of Yuri Beletsky?

        I didn’t accuse him of lying, I only indicated that he tried to smooth out the sharp corners.
        Quote: Boa constrictor KAA
        And finally, am. the admiral, the commander of the PWB in the Atlantic, was forced to admit that at speeds of up to 6,0 knots they did not hear our last boats. This is with their much-praised G / A.

        Can you completely trust his words? Maybe yes, but go and know whether he is cunning or telling the truth.
        Quote: Boa constrictor KAA
        Isn't that an indicator!

        Great. It’s good for you to judge this, having an idea of ​​domestic HACs, there is nothing really open in the public domain. Again, what speed was the detected enemy nuclear submarine, up to 6uz. or higher?
        Quote: Boa constrictor KAA
        And the last one. As a former submariner, I always said that the enemy, worse than PLO aircraft, is not for the submarine.

        Duc E.V. Kuryshev shouts not only that there is a lag in the SAC of the nuclear submarine (if you believe as a practitioner that he is lying, then I am ready to accept your opinion), but about the big holes in the ASW in general, especially in PLO aviation. Belitsky generally bypassed this issue, such as the problem does not exist. The question is not how the United States secured itself against the "underwater threat", but how we are ready to repel it, taking into account the large number of US nuclear submarines and their allies.
        1. max702
          max702 17 February 2014 17: 08
          Unfortunately, only the Strategic Missile Forces and some parts of the nuclear triad can eliminate threats from the United States and NATO .. ​​All the rest is from the evil one, we can only damage the enemy with other means in close combat, which he (the enemy) tries to carefully avoid. Even the USSR Navy was created with one aim not to defeat, and to inflict unacceptable damage on the enemy is even possible to destroy, but the question of preserving the Navy itself was not considered, everyone understood that this would be one battle .. and it’s the last for everyone ..
  9. scientist
    scientist 17 February 2014 10: 29
    Quote: Boa constrictor KAA
    So we are forced to go to the coastal, airborne, better closed, like Okhotsk, seas. The benefit of the range of weapons allows
    In my opinion, this is the same as hammering nails with a microscope.