PARIS — Elta Systems, a subsidiary of Israel Aerospace Industries, has teamed up with German sonar manufacturer Atlas Elektronik to develop an anti-submarine warfare system, a sector in which the company wants to grow its footprint.
While the majority of defense companies present at the Paris Air Show here are focused on furthering their aerospace ventures, the Israeli radar specialist has also been eyeing an expansion in the underwater market.
The firm announced its new partnership with Atlas, a subsidiary of Germany’s Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems, aimed at launching a joint product, the BlueWhale anti-submarine warfare (ASW) variant. The system is based on Elta’s autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), integrated with Atlas’ towed passive sonar triple array.
“The unique feature of this addition is that it allows the system to operate at depths generally used by submarines to avoid being detected by using a low-frequency sonar,” Yoav Tourgeman, chief executive officer of Elta Systems, told Defense News on the sidelines of the air show here.
He added that the widening set of possible applications for autonomous underwater systems, commercial or military, is part of what is driving the company to further explore their potential.
The BlueWhale ASW package features an advanced transmitter that allows for the bistatic detection and tracking of submarine targets.
Tourgeman confirmed to Defense News that the company was in talks with several customers interested in the system, but would not confirm whether one of those was Germany.
While the BlueWhale ASW could be of interest for the German Navy, some naval experts have expressed doubts regarding whether the country would be the launch customer based on current financial constraints.
“From a general standpoint, it would be interesting for them, especially based on the recently published German Navy objectives for 2035 and beyond, which places a strong emphasis on uncrewed systems in the underwater domain as a way to match increasing operational demands with scarce human resources,” Johannes Peters, head of the Center for Maritime Strategy and Security at the Institute for Security Policy at Kiel University, said.
However, he notes the multitude of large projects the country has ongoing in the naval sector, including the development of the new F-126 frigate, the U212-CD submarines and purchasing P-8 maritime patrol aircraft from Boeing.
“Given this backdrop, there is simply no budget for a short or medium term procurement – it is highly unlikely that the proclaimed first customer would be Germany,” Peters opined.
Elisabeth Gosselin-Malo is a Europe correspondent for Defense News. She covers a wide range of topics related to military procurement and international security, and specializes in reporting on the aviation sector. She is based in Milan, Italy.