January 31, 2016

P-8 Poseidons becoming operational and sales success.

The Indian armed forces Andaman and Nicobar [Island] Command (see bases above) now operates one or more P-8I patrol aircraft and Searcher-II UAVs to track Chinese submarines and surface ships passing through the islands to/from the Straits of Malacca.

US Company Boeing is successfully marketing and deploying the P-8 Poseidon patrol aircraft.

Major customers include:

- the US Navy - many delivered and on order. Some (like Patrol Suadron 45) operating or passing through Hawaii, Guam, Kadena-Okinawa and Singapore with major interest in Chinese (and probably Russian) submarine operations in the East and South China Sea. Also interested in conjunction with other allies (like India) in tracking Chinese submarines passing through the Straits of Malacca.

- Royal Australian Air Force - 8 on order with an option of 4 more. Some may be delivered in 2017. Australia may well buy some large Triton UAVs to work in conjunction with the P-8s.

- Indian Air Force - ordered 8 P-8I (I for India) called "Neptunes" (not to be confused with the old Neptune P-2s). All 8 P-8Is now delivered.

The US may have had some misgivings given India's close relationship with the Russian military. However weighed against this India's aims to use the (possibly lower spec) P-8Is to keep track of Chinese submarines and surface vessels would benefit US national interests against China.

India has one or two P-8Is patrolling the Andaman and Nicobar island area. India may be doing this in conjunction with US, Singaporean and (occasionally) Australian aircraft tracking Chinese submarines entering and leaving the Straits of Malacca area. For the ISR and possibly ASW mission Indian is also operating (Israeli built) Searcher-II UAVs in the Andamans/Nicobars. Also see an article in The Diplomat on Chinese submarines and India's Andaman and Nicobar Command.

- UK Royal Air Force - 9 ordered in November 2015. See Submarine Matters article.

- the Royal New Zealand Air Force may be a possible future customer for a few.

- Italy and Norway may be interested in buying or leasing P-8s.

This August 2015 youtube indicates many differences and advantages of the P-8 compared to the P-3.


It is often forgotten that ASW is only one of a P-3's or P-8's role. Safer anti-surface ship and overland ISR operations may be promoted through higher, faster flying.

The P-8 has major differences in structure and the way of functioning which takes some realising by many who are accustomed to P-3 Orions. The P-8 flies faster and higher than the P-3. Higher flight means less reliance on magnetic anomaly sensors and greater reliance on dropping sonobuoys. Higher faster flight means one P-8 can transit faster and arrive on station faster than a P-3. One P-8 can search more sea area faster than one P-3, so fewer P-8s may need to be acquired.

For overland ISR missions P-8 operation faster and higher contributes to safety against SAMs and small arms fire (eg. 14.5 mm AAA on peaks in mountainous Afghanistan) compared to lower, slower flying P-3s.

Many P-3 advocates automatically see the P-8's difference as failures, perhaps with much "failure" to be like the P-3.

The P-3 may be suited to low and slow flight with a magnetic anomaly detection (MAD) booms over water. It appears that Indian and UK P-8s are/will be fitted with MAD booms. Australian P-8s might also be so fitted and US P-8s fitted and/or retrofitted with MADs. This is also noting P-8 can fly low when needed.

Low-slow may be useful for Laser or Lidar detection of submarines, but Lidar may be less suited to  high-fast P-8s.



Josh said...

High altitude has a host of advantages, including fuel economy, immunity from AAA/MANPADS, increased airframe life, increased transit speed, and wider sensor field of view/horizon. About the only draw back is the loss of MAD detection and decreased accuracy of sonobuoy drops. The later can be addressed by delaying parachute deployment, spin stabilizing the buoys, and using dropsondes to identify wind patterns at lower altitudes. MAD is used for target localization, not initial detection, so it seems likely the USN has decided this step can be handled by active sound sources, either the multi-static coherent active source upgrade for the P-8 or a traditional AN/SSQ-62 DICASS type buoy. It could be these systems are NOT being offered to allied nations (particularly India) or that allied nations might not have the resources to upgrade their aircraft in a timely fashion and want to retain MAD as a back up/stop gap. The only major savings of deleting the MAD boom is relatively minor cost and fuel savings.

I'm not aware of diesel fumes being a detection method since the Shackletons were taken out of service. I'm not sure the USN ever used the technique. LIDAR might be viable in sufficiently shallow water but it doesn't appear to be capable of large volume searches. I'm not aware of any underwater search sensor using lasers in service outside of the ALMDS mine detection system, though I know green lasers have been used for mapping shallow water areas of coastline.


MHalblaub said...

There is a logical error. The P-8 is only faster than the P-3 Orion but both aircraft have the same range. Therefore the P-3 has more time on station.

The operstion costs for a P-8 will be much lower due to the spare parts availability for a 737.

The P-3 can not refuel but the P-8 Poseidon can.

There are better solutions out there for an maritime survaliance aircraft. A turboprop like the ATR-72 or the KC-30 already in service with RAAF.

The more often you can use an aircraft the cheaper it will be!


Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub

There are several variables that would make the P-8 and P-3 range and time on station vary and difficult to compare.

Length of transit legs (ie. geography and mission objectives) may lead to differing times on station.

Higher speed can be beneficial or at the expense of shorter range.

Mid-air refueling or not?

Sometimes the P-8 can achieve 4 or many more hours on station depending on the situation https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing_P-8_Poseidon#Specifications_.28P-8A.29

Sometimes P-3 operating over the Baltic or Mediterranean could acheive far higher on station than US P-3s over the South China Sea.

So it depends, doesn't it?



Peter Coates said...

Hi Josh

I'm turning your comment into the next article.



Anonymous said...

"LIDAR might be viable in sufficiently shallow water but it doesn't appear to be
capable of large volume searches. I'm not aware of any underwater search sensor using
lasers in service outside of the ALMDS mine detection system, though I know green
lasers have been used for mapping shallow water areas of coastline."

The potential of LIDAR as an aerial antisubmarine warfare sensor:



"Soviet scientists researched LIDAR technology parallel to their Western
counterparts, and managed to place a system, although fragile, on some of their Bear
F Mod4 ASW aircraft. The system is called “Amethyst”, and uses a blue-green CO2
laser. It scans from side to side as the aircraft moves forward covering a 100m wide
swath. The pilot must maintain constant altitude and speed (100m altitude, 100m/sec
= 200knots speed), and the system has to be shut down whenever the aircraft turns."

"After the revelation of the black program “April Showers” and the technical details
of the ATD-111 system (seechapter5), some information on the system is available in
open sources. The American technology seems to have developed significantly further
than the Russian. The two mentioned American systems have been competing for the
final ASW/MCMLIDAR contract, but seem to be of somewhat the same specifications."

"In the early 90s the Australian LADS became operational with the Royal Australian
Navy, the USACE started flying their SHOALS-system and the Swedes deployed their
HawkEye-system operationally from helicopters. There has been significant
speculation surrounding the use of the HawkEye-system for hunting submarines, but no
open sources seem to be able to confirm this."

"As of this writing, one of the latest milestones regarding operational LIDAR
development was reached early in 2007, when Northrop Grumman delivered thefirst of45
LIDAR pods to be installed on the U.S. Navy helicopter MH-60S for mine-detection"

"Claymore Marine is meant to be a new littoral ASW system, which integrates the
previously developed ATD-111 airborne ASW and minehunting system with new signal
processing algorithms to achieve a significant increase in performance
(Congress2004). The system is a non-acoustic, environmentally friendly, airborne
laser,submarine detection system specifically used for shallow water and harsh
environments where acoustic detectors do not work well"

"LIDAR will be able, given the appropriate algorithms, to detect such turbulence
behind a shallow-transiting submarine. In addition, the turbulence will excite
microorganisms in the water, which in turn will emit bioluminescence. This
bioluminescence might be too weak to be seen by the human eye, but the microorganisms
will be further excited by the LIDAR beam, and thus create the basis for detection by
an electro-optic/infrared camera (Hjelmstad2009)."

Check the link above if you want all the nitty-gritty details.

Anonymous said...

If you liked the PDF in my previous post, here's another:



"As early as 1967, a submerged submarine (USS Thread Fin) was detected as a target of
opportunity during a mine-detection experiment near Panama City, Florida [Ref.21] The
laser used a 530.8 nanometer wavelength, 25 nanosecond pulse, a 5 inch (2centimeter)
aperture, and 2 megawatts peak power."

So laser detection of submarines is not a new concept. It also means all those laser mine detection systems on USN aircraft may already have a secondary shallow-water ASW capability.

Laser Radar (LIDAR) may also be how the P-8's "Hydrocarbon Sensor" works:



"A new generation sniffer would be based on DIAL (Differential Absorption LIDAR), a
form of laser radar in which the laser colour is tuned to excite specific chemical
species in the exhaust gas. A LIDAR based design could sweep a circular footprint of
hundreds of square kilometres around an aircraft in a matter of tens of seconds,
generating a radar like image of all exhaust trails in reach."

Peter Coates said...

Hi Anonymous

I've a good mind to turn your 1/2 5:26PM and 1/2 7:30PM comments into an article next week.



Josh said...

@Anonymous, thanks for the reading material. While there does seem to be more work invested in this technology than I was aware of, it does still seem to have the limitation of low volume search, shallow water, low level, and perhaps low speed - I'll have to dig into the articles but it seems that helicopters or very slow prop aircraft were the LIDAR carrying platforms. I assume that if something as small as a mine can be detected finding an entire submarine hull is relatively simple; the primary limitation to me would be how much area could be searched in what time frame to make initial detection practical. It does seem to be a potential secondary sensor for localization and classification.

I didn't know that the P-8 was to have a hydrocarbon sensor of any kind. I see mention of it in the wiki article but without a source. I would have thought that this method of detection would no longer viable due to the mass of commercial diesel powered ships, from fishing boats to tankers and container carriers. I'd have thought any signal from D/E snorting would be drowned out in local traffic, particularly in SCS or any straight. If anyone has any further information on the installation on the P-8 (if there is one) please post it for me.


MHalblaub said...

Dear Pete,

the P-3 Orion has a combat radius of 1.346 nm with 3 hours on station. (wiki)
The P-8 Poseidon has a combat radius of 1.200 nm with 4 hours on station. (wiki)
The 300 nm nautical miles the P-3 flies more is equivalent to about 1 hour more on station.

With less radius you get more time on station.
P-3 cruise speed 325 knots.
P-8 cruise speed 440 knots.

Is the 737-800 the right platform?
A 737-800 costs about $100 million. A P-8 Poseidon $175 million. So $75 million for whatever.

An ATR 72 costs about $25 million + $75 million for whatever: $100 million.
According to Wikipedia this aircraft just has a range of 825 nm. Well, this is for full pax. The full range is hidden on page 21: http://www.atraircraft.com/products_app/media/pdf/FAMILY_septembre2014.pdf
Fuel consumption 762 kg/hr. Max fuel load 5.000 kg. That would be about 6.5 hours flying time at 275 kn. Around 1.750 nm without additional fuel tanks. The P-8 has six additional fuel tanks.

The range would be enough for India.

The great difference is the price for maintenance and fuel: roughly proportional to MTOW.
P-8: 86 t
ATR 72: 23 t.

Turkey ordered 10 ATR 72 ASW just like a few Type 214 submarines.

For Australia are several considerations:
The KC-30A has about twice the range of the P-8 but is already paid.
A400M: ferry range 4.700 nm without additional tanks.

Advantage over the 737: multiple use and therefore better a better return on investment.


Peter Coates said...

Hi MHalblaub

Certainly non P-8s offer some advantages and some disadvantages.

Unless customers were under buy EU obligations many customers would want aircraft already developed as a maritive patrol and overland ISR aircraft.

Some are smaller some bigger than the P-8. Some better for Baltic and Med, some better for Pacific and Indian Oceans.



Anonymous said...

"I didn't know that the P-8 was to have a hydrocarbon sensor of any kind. I see mention of it in the wiki article but without a source. I would have thought that this method of detection would no longer viable due to the mass of commercial diesel powered ships, from fishing boats to tankers and container carriers. I'd have thought any signal from D/E snorting would be drowned out in local traffic, particularly in SCS or any straight."

Compare the surface-search radar data with the LIDAR/diesel-plume data (Sensor fusion can be useful for stuff like this).

If there's a diesel plume without a corresponding surface search radar blip, then there may be a snorkeling submarine out there.

Anonymous said...

Out in the middle of the Pacific Ocean with no ships within sight, a hydrocarbon sensor may be usable assuming the P-8A knows where the submarine is approximately. But in the South China Sea where you have hundreds if not thousands of cargo, tankers passing through, plus tens of thousands of small fishing boats, it will be impossible to detect a submarine. In addition, the SCS is basically a littoral space so radar detection will generate a lot of false alarms.
But with diesel submarines getting quieter with each generation, I think passive detection range will shrink and so one will have to revert to active detection. Shrinking detection range will drive up detection time so much a search can become ineffective. A naval operation cannot wait forever because one has not found the submarine yet.
Periscope or mast detection using airborne radar will likely become important. Hopefully at stand of ranges, one can surprise an unsuspecting submarine. The P-8A has that AN/APY-10 in the nose. The AN/APY-10 periscope detection is optimized for open ocean search, so adding an AAS pod under the belly increases radar coverage to near 360 degrees. The AAS is optimized for detection in the littoral space and benefits from newer hardware as well as better signal processing algorithms.
The P-8A flying higher will sound just like any other Boeing 737. If you are a submarine, and you detect the noise of a propeller plane in the middle of the ocean, will you think it is an ATR, most unlikely, or will you guess it is a P-3 or IL-38? Propeller planes at low altitude is very noisy, much noisier than a jet engine.
Still, I think it is best to combine P-8A with other ASW assets like a hydrophone network. It will be very hard if not impossible for any submarine to hide its blade rate noises. Frequencies between 0.5Hz to 20Hz are nearly impossible to control, and they have minimum attenuation in sea water so they can be heard at great depths and distances. It is proven that by trigonometry, hydrophone networks can locate a submarine to within a mile.

Anonymous said...

"Periscope or mast detection using airborne radar will likely become important. Hopefully at stand of ranges, one can surprise an unsuspecting submarine."

In the future, submarines may not have to raise periscopes:



"The Virtual Periscope will be tested aboard the USS Chicago this summer. It takes
advantage of the fact that the surface of the ocean acts as a simple lens, collecting
light from above the service and refracting it below. A small camera mounted on the
sail of the submarine will collect the light and use high-speed signal processing
software -- similar enhancement techniques used by NASA and government agencies for
cleaning up blurred images -- to assemble a picture of what is on the surface. The
images won't be good enough to identify what kind of ship type is above them, but it
would be able to warn a submarine that there is something in the way on the surface.
Virtual Periscope is good to about 100 to 200 feet below the surface before the light
fades out and can spot a 30 meter tall object at about a distance of 1600 meters.
U.S. Special Operations Command plans to put a smaller version of Virtual Periscope
on its swimmer delivery vehicles.

For cleaner pictures, the Low-Cost Expendable Sensor (LCES) using a small tethered
camera on a buoy to bob to the surface to send images back. LCES can be deployed from
the 76mm signal ejector and will ride above 3 inches above the surface to take
pictures. Signal processing is used to assemble the images into a stable 360 degree
view of what is above the ship. When finished, the line is cut and the sub can sail
away. To an observer, the device looks like a piece of trash bobbing up and down on
the surface, not a periscope."

The Israelis are working on a similar technology called Stella Maris:


As technology like this becomes more widespread, it may eventually become easier to scan the ocean's surface for a shallow Submarine's wake than to find the periscope.

Peter Coates said...

Hi KQN [at 3/2 5:45AM]

Interesting you mention "hydrophone" or what I call a more encompassing term "SeaWeb fixed undersea sensors" to also include fixed magnetic anomaly, movement and light sensors.

An individual submarines on guard duty may frequently work with a line of seabed sensors as a force multiplier - in such places as the Tsushima Strait and Bashi Channel see http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2015/09/how-to-trap-chinese-dragon-seawebs.html

Also see my http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2015/12/simulated-chinese-sub-attack-uss-reagon.html of December 20, 2015:

"Other platforms may have detected the Chinese sub including P-3 or P-8 patrol aircraft with sonobuoys, ASW helicopter with dipping sonar, Tsushima Strait's possible UNDERSEA SENSORS http://gentleseas.blogspot.com.au/2015/09/how-to-trap-chinese-dragon-seawebs.html or a combination of several platforms."



Josh said...

From a sensor point of view, the protrusion of a mast above water may or may not be necessary. But for D/E boats, the protrusion of an air intake will always be necessary when not running on AIP or after any sprint or other large power use. Subs can detect radar emissions and periscopes are small targets, but even if a sub isn't detected forcing it down again interrupts its charging cycle at a minimum. So radar always will have a role to play, if only to keep D/Es honest. The average AIP boat would rather charge off 3 megawatts of diesel power rather than 300kW of what the AIP plant can muster. And the nukes get to enjoy 30 MW pretty much whenever they want. Each one of those figures represents an entire order of magnitude of electrical power that can be used for propulsion, sensors, environmental maintenance, active noise cancellation, etc. Denying D/Es easy snorts is always worth it, even if someone just put an emitter on a balloon with no receiver or processor - the boat can't stay near the surface long enough to tell. The sub (un-networked at least - see Seaweb comments) has to perceive the world through a soda straw and that can be used against it even if detection isn't practical.