COUNTERING THE NEW NAVAL THREAT
With the evolution of the stealth techniques for both air and surface threats, the reaction time for the defensive weapon systems is getting more and more crucial for the survivability of a warship.
Electromagnetic and electro-optical detection systems designed for the previous generation of threats have seen their ranges of first detection significantly reduced against this new type of threats, which are virtually undetectable until the very last moment.
Additionally, in many contexts, such as coastal or in straits operations, a warship is submitted to asymmetrical threats such as very fast patrol or speedboats conducting “swarm attacks”, or applying tactics of coordinated crossing routes in order to confuse the fire control tracking gates. In these situations the warship needs a very effective “last line” of defense. This makes it mandatory to have very short target acquisition times.
This threat evolution has shown the key value of an effective visual surveillance executed by look-outs or operators of a Weapon Direction Platform (WDP) Visual, able to designate and acquire very quickly an air or a surface target.
ESSENTIAL ROLE OF VISUAL WATCH
Visual targeting by visual means appears to be a key capability, both for target identification or target engagement purpose, despite of the sophisticated electromagnetic or electro-optical surveillance equipment, and of the use of advanced Tactical Data Systems or Combat Management Systems.
From a tactical point of view, visual sighting and its associated means of targeting are now the ultimate resort, or may be needed to fill the shortcomings of another detection system.
In a crisis situation, the closest range of the target interception becomes particularly critical, and is often subordinated to a very short engagement time, mainly depended on the target acquisition time.