At Euronaval 2014, DCNS is unveiling major innovations in three key areas – improved submerged endurance, enhanced surface intelligence gathering, and deployment of unmanned underwater vehicles – to improve the performance and safety of conventional-propulsion submarines. All these new developments illustrate the unique expertise and innovative potential of DCNS teams.
To meet demand from customers for improved submerged endurance of conventional-propulsion submarines (SSKs), DCNS now offers dedicated hull sections known as Autonomy Boosting Sections.
Whereas SSKs typically have a submerged endurance of about three days, DCNS now proposes three new technologies to extend this critical parameter to three weeks.
The first is a hull plug equipped with new-generation high-capacity lithium-ion batteries. Easy to operate, the technology offers high submerged speeds on demand and improved response to power ramp-up and variations. Lithium-ion batteries can also be recharged at sea. The endurance of a Scorpene-type submarine is increased to seven days resulting in a significantly enhanced tactical capability.
The second solution, the Mesma air-independent propulsion (AIP) system, is packaged as a compact dedicated hull section. Mesma’s steam turbine-based technology uses a fuel that is readily available in ports and is ideal for extending an SSK’s endurance at patrol speeds. The sea-proven Mesma system increases the submerged endurance of a Scorpene-type submarine to two weeks.
The third solution, a second-generation fuel-cell AIP, represents a technological breakthrough compared to current-generation AIPs in terms of performance, safety, flexibility and maintenance.
This solution combines several key DCNS innovations in fuel cell technology. Hydrogen is produced from diesel fuel by hydrocarbon reforming as required, overcoming the need to store hydrogen on board the submarine.
This revolutionary technology increases submerged endurance to three weeks; a capability that confers a decisive advantage in certain theatres of operations.
The Vipère® multifunction buoy offers periscope performance without having to come up to periscope depth. Vipère® enhances a submarine’s intelligence-gathering capability while remaining deeply submerged and without compromising discretion. Data gathered by the sensor payload is relayed in real time to the host submarine. Depending on operational needs, the buoy’s payload can also include communications equipment, a satellite positioning system to reset inertial platforms, electronic warfare systems such as a radar warning receiver, or an electro-optical package with a TV/IR camera to visually monitor an area of interest.
A pioneer in the field, DCNS achieved a world first in July 2014 when it tested a unmanned underwater vehicle (UUV) launch and recovery system using a platform specially designed to simulate the forces acting on a moving submarine.
The test campaign with an Ifremer-designed Aster X UUV was the culmination of an R&D project lasting close to two years. The UUV solution offers the key advantage of never compromising the submarine’s discretion. It uses acoustic signals for long-range guidance then switches automatically to an optical system when the host comes within visual range. The UUV then docks with a docking structure on the submarine.
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