By definition, submarines are key assets of naval forces around the world for their ability to carry out reconnaissance missions while remaining undetected. Communication to and from a submarine, therefore, presents a significant challenge in that it requires the ship to come up to periscope depth thus risking detection. An answer to this dilemma can be found at IMDEX2017, with Rafael’s FloatLink submarine navigation and communication buoy.

The FloatLink is a buoy that allows customers to send messages from a submarine either through iridium or through a customer defined mean. Weighing approximately 6kg for a length of 1000mm, the buoy containing the encrypted message is propelled from the submarine to the surface, where its wings and floatation device open to allow the head of the buoy to float at the surface. Once the device has reached the surface it delivers the message at a pre-determined time, which is usually set with enough delay to allow the submarine to change location, thus avoiding the risk of detection. After delivering the message the FloatLink subsequently self-destructs.

Currently, the FloatLink is available as an independent one-way communication buoy for conveying a pre-defined message from the submarine (FloatLink S&F), and as a two-way communication using optic fiber between the buoy and the submarine (FloatLink 2WC). A third option is being developed, the FloatLink Acoustic, a two-way communication using acoustic transmissions of various types between the buoy and the boat. For confidentiality reasons, however, Rafael was unable to disclose the identity of its potential customers.

Alix Valenti


Rafael’s FloatLink submarine navigation and communication buoy at IMDEX Asia 2017. (Photo: Alix Valenti)

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