Wednesday, May 15, 2013

WASSIt? WASS C310 anti-torpedo countermeasure worth reading about

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When it comes to underwater weapons, Italian defence company Whitehead Alenia Sistemi Subacquei (WASS) makes both the sword and the shield.

The sharp end of WASS' product catalog comes in the form of torpedoes that can be launched from submarines, warships and aircraft/helicopters.

WASS also used years of accumulated know-how in underwater weapons to develop an anti-torpedo countermeasure system for surface vessels called the C310. It is the CIWS for underwater attack.

This, ladies and gentlemen, is worth reading about. :-)

The system takes into account attack profiles of "current and future generations of active and/or passive torpedoes, wire or non wire-guided, launched alone or in salvo mode".

Expendable decoys called "effectors" are propelled by compressed air from trainable launchers, with the elevation of the tubes fixed at (deleted) degrees. The effectors are so-named because the unspecified underwater effects which deceive or degrade sensors of incoming torpedoes are contained within these decoys.

It is not known how the effectors would deal with straight running torpedos launched dumb at a target ship at a predetermined depth and running speed.

WASS tactical scenario
A pair of launchers is usually recommended per surface ship. The launchers deploy effectors "during the course of predetermined evasive counter-manoeuvres, to maximise the ship survivability against modern torpedo attacks". The compressed air bottles can throw each effector out to a maximum range of (deleted) metres.

Upon being alerted of a torpedo attack by submarine, a PWO would probably want the warship to put as much distance between the incoming torpedo(es) and the ship's hull. Running for it at full ahead all engines on a helm order close to the bearing of torpedo attack would present the warship's stern to the incoming ordnance. From a tactical standpoint, it presents the target ship's smallest profile to the torpedo's sensor while increasing the distance to run with every second elapsed.

A surface ship, say for example a frigate, cannot outrun a torpedo. But the fortunes of war which weigh the range at which the torpedoes were launched, underwater tidal streams which may affect torpedo speed and accuracy of the guidance package/firing solution calculated by enemy submariners could result in a situation where torpedoes run out of fuel before impact with the target or miss altogether due to faulty firing data.

To be sure, this is wishful thinking. But running for it is a better alternative than staying put at a slow rate of knots with your full side profile for the torpedo sensor to detect and track.

Here's where the WASS C310 comes into play. Effectors ripple fired or salvo launched from 8 or 12-tube launchers fall into the sea ahead of the incoming torpedoes. If the effectors work as advertised, they should buy time for the mothership's evasive action by messing up the torpedo's guidance.

A successful evasion should allow the mothership to immediately launch a counterattack by firing ASW ordnance down the bearing of the torpedo tracks.

All this assumes that the warship has sharp ears and can compile a dependable underwater situation picture. It should also be able to pick up signs of an incoming attack to give the anti-torpedo countermeasures time to deploy and do their work.

Firing arcs
You do not have to be a naval architect to realise that your WASS C310 launchers should have a clear arc of fire covering the stern of your ship to enable effectors to be sown in the path of wake-homing torpedoes.

As the launchers are said to be trainable, its location should also allow unblocked firing arcs on the port and starboard beam. This is not rocket science.

Looking at C310 launchers installed on warships elsewhere, it is the opinion of this blog that WASS designers have given some thought to reducing the radar signature of these launchers with features characteristic of stealth warships.

The size, shape and form of the anti-torpedo countermeasure is distinctive and therefore hard to miss, even when covered with a spray cover.(It is even harder to miss if your spray cover is draped such that it follows the contours of the launcher and left under the sun for so long that it basically melts onto the launch tubes to reveal how many tubes your launcher has. Duh.)

While the decoy makes an interesting conversation starter with Navy personnel on certain warships, what's even more interesting is a hypothetical discussion of what would happen if the Whitehead anti-torpedo decoy is tasked to defeat a Whitehead torpedo attack.

Then what?


Anonymous said...


Low Hou Loke said...

Italian tanks in WWII were reputed to boast of 1 forward gear and 6 reverse.

Remember that episode where an Italian shipyard could not transport a Malaysian warship downriver as some bridges were in the way?

I do not eat pizza, prefer roti prata and lar mien instead of sphagetti.

Italian weaponry is a joke. Read history to find out why.

Anonymous said...

I have asked them before- what happens when you pit their torpedo against their countermeasure?

Anonymous said...

Anti torpedo decoys are probably very good for ship crew morale.

There are real cases where anti ship missiles such as Exocet have been decoyed by soft kill systems ; but for anti topedo decoys, it is only theory.

Anonymous said...

Low Hou Loke, you are so childish.

Italy produces good weapons. In WW2 it was leadership that failed them.

Anonymous said...

What is even more glaring than anti torpedo systems for Formidable class frigates is the lack of a hardkill CIWS or Inner Layer Defense System against antiship missiles which are becoming even more deadly with latest generation systems such as Exocet Block 3, NSM, RBS15 Mk3.

Anonymous said...

Then what?

Then it is depending who is holding the sword and who is holding the shield to answer you the question.

Blue team vs Red team within the same factory. What's the chance that they don't talk to each other?

Anonymous said...

There are some excellent Italian weapons such as the 76 mm Oto Melara gun which is sold extensively worldwide including to the USN.

RSAF also used the Italian made S211 trainer for 20 years without issue.

Anonymous said...

If the sword is equally good as the shield, then the result will depend on the smart ass using it. Result will speak for itself who is the former and who is the latter.

David Boey said...

"I have asked them before- what happens when you pit their torpedo against their countermeasure?" Anonymous May 16, 2013 at 9:26 AM

What was their reply?

Best regards,


Anonymous said...

The test engineer said that it depends on a dozen factors like the attack profile, the angle of approach, the selected countermeasure(s) and its firing time and duration, the ship's cross-section at each detection sample, evasive action, frequency, SVP, etc.

Anonymous said...

may i off the topics.
two subs are enjoying sun bath ,from head to tail,at a corner of CNB.

if u tried FCU of NOH,u may saw them.

for routine maintenance or upgrade?


Anonymous said...

photo of two sub at CNB,this week.

David Boey said...

Hi lionnoisy,
Should consider more powerful optics which let you get closer to your subject without being physically close.


Anonymous said...

hi david,
good idea.

Anonymous said...

hi huys,

xtemujin IMDEX 2013,gets a very clear page of one sub lifted out of water!

PAGE 3. photo 1111.1112.