Military Review

Raise the periscope!


L-3 KEO supplies American the fleet Universal Modular Mast (UMM), which serves as a lifting mechanism for five different sensors, including the AN / BVS1 optical mast, high-speed data mast, multi-function masts and integrated electronic support systems

Virginia-class multipurpose nuclear submarine Missouri with two L-3 KEO AN / BVS-1 opto-pole masts. This class of nuclear submarines was the first where only optociphers were installed (commander and observations) of the non-penetrating hull type

Advanced optocoupler (optoelectronics) gives mast systems that are not penetrating into the hull of the type an obvious advantage compared to direct-view periscopes. The vector of development of this technology is currently determined by low-profile opto-electronics and new concepts based on fixed systems.

Interest in the optoelectronic periscopes of the type not penetrating into the body arose in the 80s of the last century. The developers claimed that these systems would increase the design flexibility and safety of the submarine. The operational advantages of these systems were to display a periscope image on several crew screens, unlike older systems, where only one person could use a periscope, simplifying work and enhancing features, including the Quick Look Round (QLR) feature, which would minimize the time spent by the periscope on the surface and thereby reduce the vulnerability of the submarine and, as a consequence, the probability of its detection by anti-submarine warfare platforms. The value of the QLR mode has recently increased due to the increasing use of submarines to gather information.

In addition to increasing the design flexibility of the submarine due to the separation in space of the control station and optronic masts, this allows us to improve its ergonomics by freeing the volume previously occupied by periscopes. Non-penetrating masts of the type hull can also be relatively easily reconfigured by installing new systems and implementing new features; they have fewer moving parts, which reduces the life cycle cost of the periscope and, accordingly, the amount of its maintenance, repair and overhaul. Continuous technological advances reduce the likelihood of periscope detection, and further improvements in this area are associated with the transition to low-profile optronic masts.

A conventional Type 212A anti-submarine of the German fleet demonstrates its masts. These diesel-electric submarines of the Type 212A and Todaro classes, supplied respectively to the German and Italian fleets, are distinguished by a combination of masts and penetrating (SERO-400) and non-penetrating types (OMS-110)

Class "Virginia"

At the beginning of 2015, the US Navy installed a new low-profile periscope based on L-4 Communications’s low-profile Photonics Mast LPPM (Low-Profle Photonics Mast) Block 3 optic mast on its Virginia-class nuclear submarines. In order to reduce the likelihood of detection, this company is also working on a thinned version of the current AN / BVS-1 Kollmorgen optocoupler mast (currently L-3 KEO [Kollmorgen Electro-Optical]), installed on submarines of the same class.

L-3 Communications announced in May 2015 of the year that its division of optical-electronic systems L-3 KEO (in February 2012 of the year L-3 Communications joined KEO, which resulted in the creation of L-3 KEO) The 48,7 million-dollar contract from the United States Naval Systems Command (NAVSEA) to develop and design a low-profile mast with an option to manufacture 29 optronic masts for four years, as well as maintenance. The LPPM mast program envisages maintaining the characteristics of the current periscope while simultaneously reducing its size to the size of more traditional periscopes, such as the Kollmorgen Type-18 periscope, which began to be installed from 1976 on the Los Angeles nuclear submarines as they become part of the fleet.

Although the AN / BVS-1 mast has unique characteristics, it is too large and its shape is unique to the US Navy, which allows it to immediately identify the nationality of this submarine when it detects a periscope. According to publicly available information, the LPPM mast has the same diameter as the Type-18 periscope, and its appearance resembles the standard form of this periscope. The LPPM modular mast of the type that does not penetrate into the hull is installed in the universal telescopic modular compartment, which increases the invisibility and survivability of submarines.

The system features include visualization in the short-wave infrared region of the spectrum, high-resolution visualization in the visible region of the spectrum, laser ranging and a set of antennas that provide a wide coverage of the electromagnetic spectrum. The prototype of the LPPM L-3 KEO optocoupler is currently the only model used; It is installed aboard a Texas-class Virginia submarine, where all subsystems and operational readiness of the new system are checked. The first serial mast will be manufactured in the 2017 year, and its installation will begin in the 2018 year. According to L-3 KEO, it plans to develop its LPPM so that NAVSEA can install a single mast on new submarines, and also can modernize existing ships as part of an ongoing improvement program aimed at improving reliability, availability and affordability. The export version of the AN / BVS-1 mast, known under the designation Model 86, was first sold to a foreign customer under a contract announced in 2000 when the Egyptian fleet decided to modernize its four Romeo-class diesel-electric anti-submarine submarines. Another unnamed customer from Europe also installed the Model 86 on their diesel-electric submarines (DEPL).

Raise the periscope!

Periscope systems before installation on a submarine

L-3 KEO, along with LPPM development, is already supplying the US Navy Universal Universal Modular Mast modular mast (UMM). This non-penetrating type mast is installed on Virginia class submarines. The UMM serves as a lifting mechanism for five different sensor systems, including AN / BVS-1, an OE-538 radio mast, an antenna for high-speed data transmission, a mast for special tasks, and a mast with integrated radio-electronic antennas. KEO received a contract from the US Department of Defense to develop the UMM mast in 1995. In April, 2014, the company L-3 KEO received a contract worth 15 million dollars for the supply of 16 UMM masts for installation on several Virginia-class submarines.

Another UMM customer is the Italian fleet, which also equipped its diesel-electric Todaro class submarines of the first and second lots with this mast; the last two boats were scheduled to be delivered in the 2015 and 2016 years, respectively. L-3 KEO also owns the periscopes-producing Italian company Calzoni, which developed the electrically operated electronic mast E-UMM (Electronic UMM), which made it possible to move away from the external hydraulic system of raising and lowering the periscope.

The latest offer from L-3 KEO is a commander non-penetrating AOS (Attack Optronic System) type optocoupler system. This low-profile mast combines the characteristics of the traditional search periscope Model 76IR and the optic mast Model 86 of the same company (see above). The mast has reduced visual and radar signatures, the mass of 453 kg, the diameter of the sensor head is only 190 mm. The AOS mast sensor kit includes a laser range finder, a thermal imager, a high-resolution camera and a camera for low light levels.

Images from the opto-electronic mast L-3 KEO AN / BVS-1 is displayed on the operator’s workplace. Non-penetrating masts improve the ergonomics of the central post, as well as increase safety due to the structural integrity of the hull.


In the first half of 90, the German company Carl Zeiss (now Airbus Defense and Space) began the preliminary development of its Optronic Mast System (OMS) optocoupler. The first customer of the serial version of the mast, which received the designation OMS-110, was the fleet of South Africa, which chose this system for its three “Heroine” class diesel-electric submarines, which were delivered in the 2005-2008 years. The Greek fleet also chose the mast OMS-110 for its “Papanikolis” diesel-electric submarines, and after him South Korea decided to buy this mast for their Chang Bogo-class diesel-electric subs. The OMS-110 non-penetrating masts were also installed on the submarines of the Indian fleet of the Shishumar class and traditional anti-submarines of the Tridente class of the Portuguese fleet. One of the latest OMS-110 applications was the installation of UMM universal masts (see above) on the Todaro Italian fleet and anti-submarines of the German Type 2122 class fleet. These boats will have a combination of the OMS-110 opto-mast and the SERO 400 commander periscope (penetrating the hull type) from Airbus Defense and Space. The OMS-110 opto-mast has two-axis stabilization of the line of sight, a third-generation mid-wave thermal imaging camera, a high-resolution television camera, and an optional eye-safe laser range finder. The Quick Round View mode allows you to get a quick, programmable panoramic view of 360 degrees. Reportedly, it can be performed by the OMS-110 system in less than three seconds.

Airbus Defense and Security has developed the OMS-200 low-profile optocoupler, either as a supplement to the OMS-110 or as a separate solution. This mast, shown at the Defense Security and Equipment International 2013 exhibition in London, is notable for its improved stealth technology as well as its compact design. The modular, compact, low-profile, non-penetrating commander / search opto-mast type OMS-200 combines various sensors in a single package with a radio absorbing coating. As a “replacement” of the traditional direct-view periscope, the OMS-200 system is specially designed to keep stealth in the visible, infrared and radar spectra. The OMS-200 opto-mast combines three sensors, a high-definition camera, a short-wave imager and an eye-safe laser range finder. A high-quality, high-resolution image from a short-wave thermal imager can be supplemented with an image from a medium-wave thermal imager, especially in conditions of poor visibility, such as fog or haze. According to the company, the OMS-200 system can combine images into one picture with excellent stabilization.

Sagem developed and began production of the Series 30 family of commander and search masts, which are ordered by many fleets, including French ones. The commander's mast at the same time has a low visual profile

The DCNS-class Scorpene diesel submersible diesel engines are equipped with a combination of penetrating and non-penetrating masts from Sagem, including the 30 Series mast with four opto-optical sensors: a high-resolution camera, a thermal imager, a low-light camera and a laser range finder


At the Euronaval 2014 Paris exhibition, Sagem announced that it was selected by Daewoo Shipbuilding and Marine Engineering (DSME) South Korean shipyard to supply non-penetrating optronic masts for equipment of the new Son-Won-II class, for which DSME is the head contractor. This contract marks the export success of the newest Search Optronic Mast (SOM) Series 30 family of optocaster masts developed by Sagem. This type of optocoupler mast of a non-penetrating type can simultaneously receive more than four advanced opto-electronic channels and a full set of electronic warfare antennas and the Global Positioning System (GPS); Everything is placed in a lightweight touch container. The Series 30 SOM mast optocoupler sensors include a high-resolution thermal imager, a high-resolution camera, a camera for low light levels, and a eye-safe laser range finder. The mast can receive a GPS antenna, an early warning radio aerial, a radio electronic direction finding antenna, and a communication antenna. Among the operating modes of the system there is a quick all-round view mode, while all channels are simultaneously available. Two-screen digital displays have an intuitive graphical interface.

Sagem has already delivered the Series 30 SOM version for the new Barracuda class diesel submarines of the French fleet, while another version has been sold to an unnamed foreign customer. According to Sagem, the Series 30 SOM mast supplied to the South Korean fleet will also include a radio intelligence antenna, as well as optical communications equipment operating in the infrared range. Also available is a Commander version of the Series 30 SOM, designated Series 30 AOM; it features a low profile mast and is fully compatible with the Series 30 SOM version for mechanical, electronic and software interfaces. The same container and cables can be used for both sensor units, which allows fleets to choose the optimal configuration for specific tasks. The basic set includes a high-resolution thermal imager, a high-resolution television camera, an optional eye-safe laser range finder, a short-wave thermal imager, and a day / night backup camera.

Thales has equipped all Astute-class submarines of the British fleet with optocoupler masts with CM010 and CM011 sensor heads. These products are the basis for perspective periscopes of the new series.


The beginning of the Pilkington Optronics pedigree dates back to 1917 the year when its predecessor became the sole supplier of the British fleet. At one time, this company (now part of Tales) began, on an initiative, developing the CM010 family of optocoupler masts, setting up a prototype in 1996 for the British fleet's Trafalgar nuclear submarine, after which BAE Systems was chosen for 2000 for new equipment Astute class nuclear submarines. The dual CM010 opto-mast was installed on the first three boats. Tales subsequently received contracts for equipping the remaining four submarines of this class with CM010 masts in a dual configuration.

The CM010 mast includes a high-resolution camera and a thermal imager, while the CM011 model has a high-resolution camera and an image-enhancing camera for underwater surveillance, which the traditional thermal imager does not provide. In accordance with the contract obtained in 2004, Tales launched in May 2007 of the year the delivery of CM010 masts to the Japanese company Mitsubishi Electric Corporation for installation on the new Japanese “Soryu” diesel-electric submarines. Tales is currently developing a low-profile version of the CM010 with the same functionality, as well as a sensor package consisting of a high-resolution camera, a thermal imager and a television camera for low levels of illumination (or range finder). This sensor set is supposed to be used for special tasks or smaller dimensions of the diesel-electric submarines. The low-profile version of the ULPV (Ultra-Low Profle Variant), designed for installation on high-technology platforms, is a block of two sensors (high-definition camera plus a thermal imager or camera for low illumination levels) installed in a low-profile sensor head. Its visual signature is similar to the commander's periscope signature with a diameter of up to 90 mm, but at the same time the system is stabilized and has means of electronic support.

The Japanese Hakuryu diesel submarine, belonging to the Soryu class, is equipped with a Thales CM010 mast. Masts are delivered to the shipyard of Mitsubishi, the main contractor of the Soryu-class submarines, for installation aboard these submarines.

Panoramic mast

The US Navy, the largest operator of modern submarines, is developing periscope technology as part of its Afordable Modular Panoramic Photonics Mast (AMPPM) modular panoramic opto-mast program. The AMPPM program started in 2009, and as identified by the Naval Management Department, which oversees this program, its goal is to "develop a new sensor mast for submarines with high-quality sensors for panoramic search in the visible and infrared spectra, as well as short-wave infrared and hyperspectral sensors for early detection and identification. " According to the Office, the AMPPM program should significantly reduce the cost of production and maintenance due to the modular design and fixed support. In addition, a significant increase in the level of operational readiness is expected compared with the current optocoupler masts. In June 2011, the mast prototype developed by Panavision, was chosen by the Office to implement the AMPPM program. Initially, at least two-year tests on land will take place. This is followed by sea trials, which are scheduled to start in the 2018 year. The new non-rotary masts of AMPPM with a circular view of 360 degrees will be installed on nuclear submarines of the Virginia class.

Materials used:

Subscribe to our Telegram channel, regularly additional information about the special operation in Ukraine, a large amount of information, videos, something that does not fall on the site:

Dear reader, to leave comments on the publication, you must sign in.
  1. inkass_98
    inkass_98 21 March 2016 07: 33
    Thank you for the article. I have long been interested in why modern boats do not display images from the periscope on the screen, why use observation and sight "by eye" in the old fashioned way, if you can use electronics and television sights. Moreover, optics has already made good progress, fiber-optic cables are already used in homes, not to mention military applications.
    It turns out that progress is underway, but not for everyone, not a word on our boats ...
    1. The comment was deleted.
    2. Mula
      Mula 21 March 2016 12: 33
      Quote: inkass_98
      not a word on our boats ...

      Because we have a forward looking with a telescope. laughing
    3. spravochnik
      spravochnik 21 March 2016 16: 34
      The fact that not a word does not mean that progress does not go. The latest domestic submarines also have optic masts.
      1. Bayonet
        Bayonet 21 March 2016 20: 19
        Quote: spravochnik
        The latest domestic submarines also have optic masts.

        Unified periscope complex "Parus-98E"
        The complex provides:
        - A circular overview of the drive surface and airspace in the daytime, at dusk and at night
        - detection of surface, air and coastal objects
        - determination of the distance to the observed marine, air and coastal objects
        - determination of the bearing of objects
        - measurement of heading angles and elevation angles of objects
        - reception of signals from satellite navigation systems "Glonass" and GPS.
        CPC “Parus-98E” consists
        from the commander’s periscope and the universal non-penetrating periscope type (optronic mast).
        The command periscope includes:
        - visual optical channel
        - television night channel

        Universal periscope includes:
        - TV channel
        - thermal imaging channel
        - laser rangefinder channel
        - an antenna system for receiving signals from satellite navigation systems

        Each periscope includes:
        - gyroscopic stabilization system of the line of sight
        - a system for documenting (recording) audio and video information
        - hydraulic lifting device

        The product can be delivered in full or separately.
  2. Dimy4
    Dimy4 21 March 2016 08: 08
    Quote: inkass_98
    not a word on our boats.

    Baaalshoy secret! wink
    1. The comment was deleted.
  3. kote119
    kote119 21 March 2016 08: 56
    interesting article, plus to the author
  4. gray smeet
    gray smeet 21 March 2016 09: 10
    I liked the article. Military-technical articles have become a rarity at HE, any more - military-political, economic, military-historical, etc. And I want to know about the progress in military affairs. Thank you author!
  5. Senior manager
    Senior manager 21 March 2016 09: 51
    Progress in military affairs is actually a secret. The hint is enough for the professional where to move. Therefore, I think about the development prospects and do not particularly apply, although of course I want to know how far we are ahead or behind. Since they have, I am sure we have.
  6. aviator1913
    aviator1913 21 March 2016 10: 01
    We are waiting for an article about the Russian periscopes, well, or at least in a few words, what do we have there?
    1. Bersaglieri
      Bersaglieri 21 March 2016 12: 55
      At the Naval Salon in St. Petersburg, domestic optocoupler periscopes were exhibited, if my memory serves me, 3 years ago.
  7. The comment was deleted.
  8. 2s1122
    2s1122 21 March 2016 11: 42
    I just thought that this periscope lifts up to a cable with an optoelectronic cable and a video camera, and from a depth of meters it’s 100. So I went recourse
    1. Bayonet
      Bayonet 21 March 2016 20: 22
      Quote: 2s1122
      I generally thought that this periscope lifts a cable with an optoelectronic cable and a video camera, and from a depth of meters it’s 100.

      Can you imagine how and where he would hang out on the go! wink
  9. mine
    mine 21 March 2016 11: 50
    we have - basically even more miserable periscopes (PZKE-11) than we were in ... BOB!

    The reason is the attitude to periscopes as to something "tertiary"

    For comparison, the task of classifying the contact, including visual .and periscope complexes paid more attention.

    Another drawback of our standard periscopes ("Sail" is a separate conversation) is significant speed limits. Amers have special "pants" - fairings to increase the speed of use.
    Once I had a chance to personally observe the retractable "los" on a good run
    1. Resistance
      Resistance 21 March 2016 12: 47
      We have max speed under the periscope - 10 knots. Do you need more? :about)))
      1. mine
        mine 21 March 2016 23: 37
        Quote: Persistence
        Do you need more? :about)))

        Yes, sure
        "Los" seen at 13
  10. Resistance
    Resistance 21 March 2016 12: 30
    An article about gadgets, our gnome would have liked.
    You can write whatever you want, but that forest of "inconspicuous" PMU on the 1st and 2nd photons will be detected.
    Not a word, how much do these non-penetrating masts rise, what is the maximum speed with the PMU raised?
  11. Zaurbek
    Zaurbek 21 March 2016 14: 15
    Probably on our boats of new construction there should be such systems. On the T-90, this technology has been used for 10 years.
  12. PKK
    PKK 21 March 2016 19: 52
    Do not write about our periscopes, we will not disclose the secret.
    1. Bayonet
      Bayonet 21 March 2016 20: 25
      Quote: PKK
      Do not write about our periscopes, we will not disclose the secret.

      His? bully
  13. jonht
    jonht 22 March 2016 01: 26
    And who said that during the war they will be used often? There is a databank of acoustic noise of enemy boats, ships and ships .... Our always knew how to shoot on the acoustic bearing, without any periscopes, they were raised only to take a photo of the effectiveness of the shooting.
  14. merkava-2bet
    merkava-2bet 22 March 2016 13: 32
    Many thanks to the author for the article, I read my thoughts directly. In general, there is a big request if there is an opportunity to cover this topic more deeply both historically and schematically, because on the Internet everything is superficial and I found the only source of more or less detailed information in Foreign Military Review and thanks for the work.