A subset of underwater warfare known as anti-submarine warfare (ASW) uses a variety of platforms, sensors, and weaponry to monitor, identify, and either destroy or discourage enemy submarines.

Anti-Submarine Warfare Program:

The objective of the Anti-Submarine Warfare program is to enhance the Navy’s capacity to conduct anti-submarine warfare (ASW) by developing system components, integrated systems, tactical decision aids, and training capabilities. Individual platforms, groups or squadrons of platforms, and coordinated theater-level forces can all perform ASW operations.


Surface ships, aircraft, and other submarines are all part of an interconnected network that conducts warfare against submarines. ASW’s cornerstone, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), is still achieved by using a variety of sensors to identify and monitor enemy submarines’ auditory activities.

With every new generation of submarine, sensing technology utilized in ASW has advanced to become ever more quiet and difficult to detect.

A submarine cannot be located, attacked, or destroyed if it cannot be heard or seen.  Following suit, sub-hunting torpedoes are now quieter and more difficult for submarines to identify and evade.

ASW History:

ASW in WW1:

In WW1 the only offensive tactic to combat subs was to simply wait for them to surface and then attack them. Anti-submarine warfare was merely a continuation of ship-to-ship fighting techniques already in use. Whenever a submarine had to surface for navigational purposes, target confirmation, or replenishment, surface ships would attack with cannon fire or ramming, just like they would against any other vessel. One of the earliest effective anti-submarine assaults occurred in 1914 when the German sub SM U-15 was rammed while it surfaced due to engine problems.

When submarines emerged as a significant threat during World War I, more sophisticated ASW techniques were investigated. Using shipping convoys, wherein all the ships in the convoy would respond if one was attacked, was an efficient defensive strategy. 

Depth Charges became the primary attacking weapon. When the canister dropped to the appropriate depth, an early version of depth charges, often known as “dropping mines,” detonated by pulling a cord that was fastened to a surface float.

ASW in WW2:

Anti-submarine warfare persisted after World War I. The Navy continued to work on developing forward-throwing anti-submarine weaponry and refining Depth Charges. Larger charges that could explode even deeper were deployed as submarines were able to descend to greater depths.

Aircraft radar has developed into one of the most effective tools for submarine hunting. Most of the Allied victories against U-boats towards the end of World War II are attributed to radar-equipped aircraft.

It was extremely difficult for enemy submarines to spot the planes above them until it was too late. The Navy also started to create Hunter-Killer tactics, in which merged parties would aggressively seek for and destroy enemy submarines.

Type of weapons in ASW:

ASW from Air:

Aircraft were outfitted with ASW weaponry like the airdropped homing torpedo and initiated in ASW. Compared to Depth Charges, which had a combat effectiveness of roughly 9 percent these smart torpedoes attained a combat effectiveness of almost 22 percent. Moreover, airborne radar has become one of the most effective tools for submarine location.


Air-dropped torpedoes, which were first used in World War I, were widely employed in World War II and are still occasionally utilized today. The High Altitude Anti-Submarine Warfare Weapon Capability has been added to the Mark 54 lightweight torpedo to make it suitable for this purpose.

These are designed to seek out and attack submarines using sensors and propulsion systems.

AS Nets:

This physical barrier Nets keeps submarines out of locations that are considered secure.

UUV-Unmanned Underwater Vehicles:

Active sonar is being used by UUVs to identify, evaluate, and monitor enemy submarines. The SandShark micro-autonomous underwater vehicle, being developed by Bluefin Robotics, is intended for use in ASW and ISR applications. It can be launched from bigger UUV systems and has decoy capabilities.

Navigation Systems in ASW:

  • Sonar
  • GPS Integration System
  • INS
  • APS
  • TASS Positioning

Sonar Navigation System:

Sonar technology is the foundation of ASW. Sonars project sound waves into the water, which bounce off of objects and return to the sensor.

Naval operators can ascertain the object’s location, size, and shape by examining these echoes. Because submarines are stealth-oriented and stay hidden beneath the surface of the sea, sonar devices are essential for their detection.

GPS Integration System:

Submarines use GPS when they are above the water to update and guarantee the correctness of their nautical charts, even though GPS signals do not travel very far below the surface. Once underwater, they transition to different systems.

Inertial Navigation Systems (INS):

INS uses gyroscopes and motion sensors to determine the submarine’s position based on time, direction, and speed. Maintaining stealth requires a system that can function independently without generating signals, which is something that this system excels at.

Acoustic Positioning Systems (APS):

These techniques locate the submarine using sound waves. In shallow waters, when other navigational systems can be less reliable, they are very helpful.

TASS-Towered Array Sonar System:

Traditional Sonar systems are frequently installed on the hull of a ship. Although they work well at shorter ranges, the ship’s noise interference may put a limit on them. One way to solve this issue is via Towed Array Sonar Systems (TASS).

Several underwater microphones are trailed behind the vessel as part of TASS. Because of this configuration, the noise from the ship causes less interference, improving the ability to detect submarines. As TASS greatly increases the detection range, it is an essential part of contemporary ASW technology.

Range of TAS:

Although the range of a towed array sonar system might vary, submarines can now be detected by contemporary TASS systems up to several hundred kilometers away. This increased range is a big benefit in the ASW cat and mouse game.

Detection in ASW:

ASW relies heavily on detection and navigation. Submarines are located and tracked using sophisticated technologies such as satellite imagery, towed array sonar systems, and sonar. Maintaining a track on the target and guaranteeing the safety of friendly vees requires efficient navigation.


The Anti-submarine warfare market is poised for robust growth, driven by technological advancements and increasing global security concerns. Continuous innovation and strategic investments are essential for maintaining maritime dominance and addressing evolving underwater threats. Key market players are expected to leverage emerging technologies and collaborative efforts to stay ahead in this competitive landscape.

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