Titan sub: How do surveillance planes spot ocean submersibles? – BBC

Perhaps one of the Poseidon’s most important capabilities – and one that distinguishes it from the Orion – is the ability to work as a communications hub, a “node” as it were, at the centre of a network of ships, sensor-equipped UAVs, and Uncrewed Surface Vessels (USV) that will in effect multiply its power.

This networked power has made some analysts think that the arrival of aircraft like the Poseidon is ushering an era when the sea becomes “transparent”, and that submarines will find it impossible to hide.

But while the Orion’s and now the Poseidon’s technologies and capabilities make it sound like they have the upper hand, they have their limitations.

Sonar pulses, for example, can face interference from different temperature and salinity layers in the water. A submersible can be hidden under these. Magnetic detection technology tends to have short range – detecting only submersibles that are close to the surface and near to the aircraft’s position. And submersibles can also avoid detection by staying hidden in the “ambient water noise” of the ocean.

The P-8 may be the most advanced sub-hunter in the world. But as independent defence analyst H I Sutton told the BBC, “systems like Poseidon will still need to know where to look”.

In truth, finding a submersible can also be a question of luck. After all, it was the 60-year-old P-3 Orion that detected the bangs that may be coming from the lost Titan.

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