HMS Artful tests custom-developed combat system

Royal Navy’s third Astute-class submarine HMS Artful test fired its Common Combat System which will be used in the RN submarine fleet in the future.

Using a Spearfish torpedo for the test, the system was able to interpret sonar readings, and then attack a moving target with a practice weapon.

The CCS was completed ahead of time so it was ready for the third rather than fourth Astute submarine.

Developed through the Astute Build Programme, the Common Combat System is a collaborative industry effort. It is managed through a £50 million contract with BAE Systems and hosts sonar processing capability developed by Thales UK. The system was also worked on by global hardware provider Dell, Poole-based systems designers Aish Technologies and cloud computing company VMWare, which employs UK workers in Staines-upon-Thames and Milton Keynes.

Installation work is being undertaken by BAE Systems at Barrow-in-Furness and Babcock Marine at HMNB Devonport and HMNB Faslane.

According to the Royal Navy, the next generation command and control system will be integrated onto every Astute and Vanguard-class submarine currently in service, and fitted to every new Astute class submarine coming into service in the future, ensuring consistency right across the fleet. The system will also be used on board the Royal Navy’s next generation of nuclear submarines.

Minister for Defence Procurement Philip Dunne said: “This command and control system, designed as part of an innovative partnership between Defence and UK industry, will allow British submarines to adapt more quickly to changing mission requirements, making operations even safer and more efficient.

“It is a next generation system, both highly capable and cost-effective, which can be installed right across the Royal Navy’s submarine fleets, thereby guaranteeing the best capability for the Royal Navy and the best value for money for the taxpayer.”

Director Submarines Support at the MOD’s defence procurement organisation, DE&S, Rear Admiral Keith Beckett said: “The Common Combat System allows the Royal Navy to detect and track the quietest adversaries. It is a huge improvement in terms of resilience and flexibility and we’re at the early stages of exploring the system’s huge potential.”

Artful is undergoing her first combat capability trials since she was handed over to the Royal Navy in mid-December 2015. These trials will be completed by July 2016, after which Artful will undergo a period of maintenance and training to prepare for operations.