Israel’s largest defense technology innovator showcased its latest advanced Anti-Submarine Warfare (ASW) suite for surface vessels at a recent maritime and defense exhibition in Singapore for the first time.
Rafael and its subsidiary DSIT Solutions unveiled the Torbuster SP, a comprehensive torpedo defense suit, at the three-day IMDEX Asia 2023 show. This latest defense technology features designs that seek to protect surface vessels from a wide range of underwater threats, including active, passive, and wake-homing torpedoes.
What’s a Torbuster SP?
The anti-torpedo combines two of DSIT Solutions’ advanced sonar systems, Blackfish and Monkfish. According to the company, Blackfish is a passive hull-mounted sonar (HMS) system that can detect threats within a range of up to ten kilometers. It operates in medium frequency, primarily seeking “weak targets in highly cluttered acoustic environments,” and sends its precise locations. On the other hand, Monkfish is an active towed-array sonar (TAS) system capable of detecting torpedoes at longer ranges of up to 20 km. The latter is a compact and versatile sonar system that can switch-operate from active to passive and intercept modes, providing “24/7 360-degree detection and alert capabilities […] in all weather and sea conditions while the ship is underway.”
Furthermore, the Torbuster SP also features a fourth-generation Torbuster hard kill decoy that can simulate the acoustic signature of a vessel used to deceive and fool incoming enemy torpedo, attacking it instead of the actual surface ships. Once hit, the decoy detonates itself, destroying the torpedo at a safe distance while preventing it from hitting the vessel.
According to Janes, the anti-torpedo suit has a length of about a meter, a diameter of 200 mm (0.2 m), and weighs about 150 kilograms (330 pounds) per unit. It can operate at depths exceeding 370 m via a dedicated console; however, it requires a water depth of at least a hundred meters to withstand the launch impact and effectively deploy its acoustic signals.
Overall, the Torbuster SP looks like a promising torpedo countermeasure system that offers highly-effective solutions in defending surface vessels from various underwater threats. It is a pretty much straightforward system that operators can deploy easily and quickly, making it a valuable asset for ships operating in a highly contested environment.
Submarine torpedo attack training and harpoon missile launched to sink ship. Video from YouTube and Ultimate Military Channel
Underwater Threat Solution
The development of the Torbuster SP torpedo defense system began in the mid-to-late 2010s that sought to address the rapidly growing underwater threat. Despite being relatively new, the system has attracted interest and recognition. Since its introduction in 2019, the Torbuster SP has garnered attention from countries such as Singapore and India, which sought to address similar maritime challenges.
🇮🇱 @RAFAELdefense and DSIT are introducing the TORBUSTER SP torpedo integrated defense suite for surface vessels. The TORBUSTER SP system can defend against both passive and active torpedoes, as well as wake-homing torpedoes. pic.twitter.com/C8nsFlMb4Z
— Defence 360° (@Defence360) May 4, 2023
The Israeli Navy is currently conducting trials on the system and is expected to operate it in the near future, while the US Navy is considering its procurement as a potential torpedo defense system.
The Torbuster SP is among several torpedo defense systems that the US Navy is currently evaluating that can further robust its ASW capabilities.
Other anti-torpedo torpedo systems in consideration include AN/SLQ-25 Nixie towed decoy, Rolling Airframe Missile (RAM), Long-Range Active Sonar (LRAS), Surface Ship Torpedo Defense (SSTD) system, Countermeasure Anti-Torpedo (CAT) system, and as discussed the Torbuster SP torpedo defense system. There’s no definite timeline yet on when the service will decide, but it is expected to be operational sometime this decade.
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IMDEX Asia 2023
IMDEX 2023, the largest biennial maritime and defense exhibition in Asia-Pacific, made its comeback after four years of hiatus. Held at Singapore’s Changi Exhibition Center, the 13th edition of the event welcomed more than 11,000 trade attendees from over 60 countries. It featured a wide range of products and services related to naval defense, including ships, submarines, aircraft, weapons, and sensors.
The unveiling of the Torbuster SP was among the exhibition’s highlights, which took place from May 3 to 5.
“The expanded presence of a diverse range of participating companies and country pavilions underscores IMDEX Asia’s position as the leading platform for the global naval and maritime defence industry,” event organizer representative Leck Chet Lam said in a statement cited from Naval News.
Lam expressed his confidence in the industry’s growth based on the upward trajectory of defense spending over the past five years, which translates to the willingness among stakeholders to invest in defense-related initiatives. Moreover, he also emphasized the importance of strategic conversations and how keeping up with the technological trend can play a crucial role in driving “transformation within the industry.”
He went on to say that by embracing these advancements, stakeholders can foster momentum and initiate shifts towards positive changes, potentially leading to advances in naval and maritime defense capabilities.
Other notable exhibitors at the three-day event included Israel Aerospace Industries, Leonardo, Raytheon, Thales, Saab, and Lockheed Martin.
Book recommendation: Discover the covert and dangerous world of underwater warfare from World War II to today, and check out Silent Service by Philip Kaplan.
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