back to article See that red spot on the chart? Sail over it and you'll find a Russian sub

The Royal Navy's Unmanned Warrior exercise, which concluded last week, was a good jolly for the various drones and other sensor-laden toys the RN wants to buy. Yet the real value is in the data processing, which is where mapping firm Esri came in. Behind the scenes at Unmanned Warrior, Esri's cloud-based ArcGIS map product was …

  1. ma1010
    Thumb Up

    Making real war more like a board game -- in a sense

    There is one vast difference between playing a war game on a board and the real thing: knowing who is where - particularly the enemy, but sometimes even friendly forces - and what they're doing. On a board, you can just look at the pieces and know the overall picture. In real life, it's anything but like that. In a real war, it's very difficult to piece together fragmentary reports to get a clear picture of what is happening out there. That picture can easily get distorted from reality, which can lead to disastrous mistakes by misinformed commanders (among many other things, think "friendly fire.")

    This new technology appears to be trying to fix that problem, pulling in information from many different sources, including drones, and putting everything together into a map that the commander can look at and know who and what is where. This sort of information is a very good weapon in and of itself, a really major advantage for you if the other side doesn't have it, and an epic fail for you if the other side has it and you don't.

    Of course, I'd like to see a world in which there aren't any wars. But if we want to have a strong defense in case it is ever needed, this sort of technology is an essential game-changer to have in your possession.

  2. W4YBO

    Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov

    I wonder what that ramp on the bow feels like at 130 mph. Some strong backs in the Russian Navy!

    And, considering that exhaust smoke, maybe Spain should've sold them some low-sulfur bunker fuel.

    1. Mark 85 Silver badge

      Re: Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov

      Apparently, the pride of the Russian aircraft carrier fleet is in pretty sad condition. Reports say that is being accompanied by a sea-going tug and a maintenance/repair ship which are never far away from it.

      1. TheVogon

        Re: Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov

        "the pride of the Russian aircraft carrier fleet"

        It's a "fleet" of 1....

        1. Mark 85 Silver badge
          Thumb Up

          Re: Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov

          It's a "fleet" of 1....

          I'm glad you picked up on that when others didn't.

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov

      "And, considering that exhaust smoke, maybe Spain should've sold them some low-sulfur bunker fuel."

      It's supposed to be LNG-fuelled gas turbines, suggesting oil leaks are the problem.

      1. Dr Scrum Master

        Re: Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov

        I thought they were sending smoke signals.

    3. gudguy1a

      Re: Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov

      130mph...??

      Not clear on that one, no large military naval craft can get that high. Maybe you're thinking of a specially kitted out attack boat with hydrofoils to skim faster over the water (much faster)...?

      Then, that really would be something to see, some attack boat hitting an opponent while traveling at 130mph (or 120 knots) or higher...

      1. Anonymous Coward
        Anonymous Coward

        Re: Russian aircraft carrier Admiral Kuznetsov

        "Not clear on that one, no large military naval craft can get that high"

        Depends how you define "naval craft"

        Parked here

  3. Uffish

    Catching up with history

    The Royal Navy used to be pretty hot on getting up to date and accurate charts."Up to date" just got updated.

  4. JamesPond
    Mushroom

    Soviet carriers so small

    Why did the soviet's make their carrier so small? the bows of HMS Richmond are nearly over the stern of the carrier. What do they fly off the carrier, DJI Phantom 4's?

    1. Rich 11 Silver badge

      Re: Soviet carriers so small

      It's a pocket carrier, just like ye pocket battleships of olde.

      1. Monty Burns

        Re: Soviet carriers so small

        It's actually a cruiser that can carry aircraft, USSR doctrine wouldn't allow aircraft carriers.

  5. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Target search != target detection

    "...anti-submarine warships use sonar pings to search for enemy boats, in the same way as radar detects aircraft."

    GC has conflated two different ideas there.

    Detecting enemy targets by active means, such as sonar or radar, these days at least, is a big fail; not only does it immediately alert whatever you're trying to detect to the fact that you're looking for it but also provides a beacon for your location long before you're able to achieve detection (this is simply because active scanning relies upon receiving a reflection that must always be weaker than the scanning signal - it's far easier for you to detect that you are being scanned than for the scanner to detect you).

    Instead, passive scanning is used to detect when a target is present, at which point active scanning will be brought in to play to search for, or in other words locate, the target so that it may be engaged.

    This is more of an issue for ships and subs though - aircraft detection and targeting systems are increasingly using passive IR as it can be effective over several tens of kilometres and is intrinsically accurate whereas passive sonar/hydrophones are both subject to the thermoclines mentioned in the article (there's no real analogy to IR in sonar) and are less accurate (sure, a homing torpedo can find its own target accurately enough from a passive sonar detection but the vessel that fired it will still be unsure of the target's precise location until the torp hits it).

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: Target search != target detection

      The modern solution relies on persauding your enemy to sign up for Facebook or Google apps and, by not reading the small print on the Terms, allow you to track their location for free.

      1. I ain't Spartacus Gold badge
        Happy

        Re: Target search != target detection

        Facebook tracking is great for working out what Russian units are in Ukraine at any given time - it's amazing they don't confiscate their soldiers' phones.

        Not so hot on a submarine - unless it's permanently on the surface, or has an antanna up, so the sailors can get an internet connection. Perhaps that's why Facebook are trying to put up their own satellites? Is it time for a new conspiracy theory? It was Russia that took out the last SpaceX launch, and not ULA as everyone had assumed...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Target search != target detection

      The thermocline isn't some sort of invisibility shield. When a thermocline is present (and we would use probes to check where it is) the sonarbuoys, helicopter dipping sonar, can be set to the depth you want to look at. Passively and actively.

    3. Ade123

      Re: Target search != target detection

      Agreed, a hunter looking for a target with Active sonar, quickly becomes the target!

      However, it makes sense that with underwater drones, a smaller pinging sonar module could be deployed that 1) took it below the temperate layer that shields the subs and 2) once deployed could ping to its hearts content, passing back any contacts to the hunter group.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    ArcGIS?!

    Is it still the same old, incomprehensible, steaming pile of crap that sells for 10k per seat?

    1. Yet Another Anonymous coward Silver badge

      Re: ArcGIS?!

      No it's the special military-grade version without the ease of use features that sells for 10x as much

  7. Ashley_Pomeroy

    "Esri man Mark Clewis had installed the sensor app on his phone and created a detailed 3D plot of his garden shed and vegetable patch"

    There's a good reason for this - most of Britain's problems are the fault of pixies, particularly the invisible kind. They tend to make their homes in vegetable patches, and if the Royal Navy can find them, it can bomb them.

  8. defiler

    Pfft

    I watched The Spy Who Loved Me last weekend. They had this sub locating tech 40 years ago!

    1. Antron Argaiv Silver badge
      Megaphone

      Re: Pfft

      The Enemy Below.

      Run Silent, Run Deep.

      // oldies but goodies

  9. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Unhappy

    In the military it's called "Sensor fusion" and the systems have been very bespoke.

    So the real story is that this was not built for the exercise.

    But running on AWS? How's that going to work on a warship? A fat satellite pipe? I don't think so.

    1. allthecoolshortnamesweretaken

      Re: In the military it's called "Sensor fusion" and the systems have been very bespoke.

      Exactly. Even with hypothetical fat satellite pipes your connection to "the cloud" is only one DDoS away from being totally unusable.

      Which reminds me; weren't there reports about things going on that might hint at someone calibrating tools to do just that?

      1. John Smith 19 Gold badge
        Unhappy

        "our connection to "the cloud" is only one DDoS away from being totally unusable."

        Indeed.

        I was of course joking about such a plan. AWS is fine for a proof of concept For a live system you'd need to run it on an on board server farmer.

        The question is how easy will that migration be? Will be just a question of spinning up a copy of the environment or will it need to be rebuilt from scratch? The former makes the exercise worthwhile while the latter means they are virtually still at square one.

    2. skswales

      Re: In the military it's called "Sensor fusion" and the systems have been very bespoke.

      Looks like Admiral Kuznetsov was trying to generate its own cloud with those emissions

    3. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: In the military it's called "Sensor fusion" and the systems have been very bespoke.

      "But running on AWS?"

      At least submarines are already used to going down....

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