Tests were successfully conducted during the last NATO Antisubmarine Warfare Exercise.
From 16 February through 2 March 2013 the NATO Research Vessel Alliance, NATO's oceangoing research vessel, and the scientists of the NATO Centre for Maritime Research and Experimentation (STO-CMRE) participated in Proud Manta 13, NATO's largest Antisubmarine Warfare (ASW) exercise.
The goal of the experimentation was to deploy two autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) with towed arrays to perform autonomous off-board multistatic ASW during the exercise, conducted off the south-eastern coast of Sicily. "The results of the experimentation were very positive, with both of the AUVs as well as the NRV Alliance performing to a very high standard during the freeplay portion of the exercise" said Kevin LePage, Scientist in Charge of the sea trial. A multistatic view of the underwater battlespace was formed on board each vehicle in real-time, using STO-CMRE embedded signal processing, and communicated to the scientists on board NRV Alliance using long-range, low-frequency underwater modems, for fusion on a tactical display with the ship's own bistatic sonar display. This real-time demonstration of autonomous ASW by AUVs using multistatic active sonar during freeplay in an ASW exercise was a first for CMRE and represents a major step forward in the demonstration of the potential of autonomous unmanned systems to perform ASW barrier operations.
To assist in the ASW barrier demonstration a new wave-powered unmanned surface vehicle known as a Wave Glider was used as a mobile gateway, re-transmitting acoustic messages sent by the AUVs to the NRV Alliance using a radio modem.
CMRE also participated in in-stride exercise serial reconstruction during Proud Manta 13 utilizing its Multistatic Tactical Planning Aid (MSTPA) decision tool, helping to quantify the ASW performance achieved by various assets during the exercise.
This large-scale exercise represented a valuable opportunity for CMRE to test cutting-edge ASW systems in a realistic scenario. It was also an occasion to see how new advances in research and technology, such as autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs), can be applied to NATO missions in the future.
In the last two years, CMRE (formerly called NURC) participated in Proud Manta '11 and '12 and gathered data in conjunction with the exercises, helping NATO plan their operations. The Centre also monitored the test area with gliders prior to and during operations to measure oceanographic variables. Following those successful experiences, CMRE's role in the exercise was expanded this year to include two components: Multistatic ASW Experimentation using collaborative AUVs and ASVs, and tactical planning and exercise reconstruction using CMRE's MSTPA tool.
CMRE experiments during Proud Manta '13 were conducted from and supported by the 93-metre NATO Research Vessel Alliance, the only ocean-going ship jointly owned by all NATO nations.