Posed by the obsolescence of legacy periscopes, a growing number of Type 209 submarine modernisation programmes worldwide call for the procurement of new and more reliable systems. Airbus DS Optronics now promotes its SERO 250 periscope as a viable retrofit solution.

Submarines have shifted quickly to agile, mobile, network-based sensor technologies and applications. Some of this activity has taken place recently. From South America to Southeast Asia to Europe and, possibly next, South Africa, submarine operators tend to continue to upgrade legacy platforms with more modern sensors and combat systems. Alongside more modern Combat Management Systems (CMS), there are increasing efforts to replace existing optical periscopes with more compact, state-of-the-art periscope systems. There are a number of Navies that do advanced modernisation in this specific field, and there reasons to do so. Improved situational awareness and covert Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) often are the key reasons cited for fielding more reliable periscope systems.

Airbus DS Optronics’ SERO 250 periscope makes this vision a reality. The company claims that this retrofit solution can be ideally fitted to all existing Type 209 diesel-electric submarines, most of them are in operational use across South America and in a number of countries in Southeast Asia. As per 2016, more than 65 Type 209 variants are in constant use or have been ordered by 15 Navies worldwide, according to the manufacturer. Boats in operational use in Colombia and Turkey have already been fitted with the manufacturer’s SERO 250 solution, and there are efforts underway to also outfit South Korean “Chang Bogo” class (Type 209-1200) and Peruvian Type 209/1200 boats. The retrofit solution can do more. NAVAL FORCES was informed at the company’s manufacturing site in Oberkochen, Germany, in October that the periscope was already successfully evaluated for fitment to the KILO submarine, and it can easily be integrated into the AGOSTA 90 submarine, the latter in operation with the Pakistan Navy.

As there is a shift to embark on more modern CMS, Airbus DS Optronics’ main argument to retrofit legacy platforms with the SERO 250 system is its “huge potential” to be integrated in modern CMS, offering a robust remote control capability. The company told that these can be legacy CMS or a replacement systems introduced during upgrade, however. Some submariners would ask, is it necessary? The company argued that SERO 250 as a straightforward ‘Drop-In’ installation will further automatise key submarine missions to such an extent that the today’s submarine commander can undertake a wider range of tasks than was possible with earlier systems. With these increased functionalities, he will be able to capture the high-resolution imagery and video he needs to meet 21st century above-water surveillance, ISR/ ISTAR (Intelligence, Surveillance, Target Acquisition and Reconnaissance), and navigation needs.

Stefan Nitschke

(Photo: Airbus)

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