At the last NATO summit, the creation of a command to “help protect US Navy maritime communication routes between North America” was confirmed. Such a structure existed during the Cold War, under the name Allied Command Atlantic [SACLANT], before being dissolved in 2002.
In addition, a few weeks earlier, the Pentagon had announced the reactivation of the 2nd Fleet of the US Navy whose deployment zone coincided with that of the North Atlantic. At the same time, Iceland regains the strategic interest it was given before the implosion of the Soviet Union, with the deployment of US P – 8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.
The common point between these three measures is the sustained operational activity of the Russian submarines, whose level recovers that which was his during the Cold War.
“Russia has invested heavily in its navy, especially in submarines. Since 2014, thirteen other submersibles have been delivered. Russian submarine activities are now at the highest level since the end of the Cold War. These submarines operate all over the Atlantic and even closer to our shores, “NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg explained in an interview with the Frankfurter Allgemeinen Sonntagszeitung (FAS) last December.
Also, the “encounters” between Russian submarines and NATO ships are more frequent. “The incursions into the Bay of Biscay of Russian submarines challenge our maritime patrol capabilities,” said Jean-Yves Le Drian, who was Minister of Defense, in November 2016. He later had mentioned the presence of Russian submarines not far from the Brittany coast … from where the nuclear launching submarines (SNLE) of the French Navy depart.
In the Mediterranean, there were also Russian submarines that gave the US Navy a “hard time” (and not only that …). And obviously, the frequency of these “meetings” has increased in recent months. That said, Russian submarines are probably not the only ones to have increased the pace of their patrols. In other parts of the world, and particularly in the Indo-Pacific region, Chinese submersibles are equally active.
In October 2017, the US Naval Air Systems Command announced the order of 166,500 buoys of various types from Erapsco. All for $ 219.8 million.
Worn by ASM [anti-submarine] helicopters and maritime patrol aircraft (in this case MH-60 Sea Hawk and P-8A Poseidon for the US Navy), sonobuoys passive or active, detect submarines and transmit coordinates of their positions to aircraft and surface ships.
But this order placed with Erapsco is apparently insufficient since the US Navy has just asked Congress an additional $ 20 million to acquire a new batch. The stocks of these sonobuoys “fell very low after an unexpected operational tempo in anti-submarine warfare in 2017, resulting in high consumption of any type / model / series,” she said. to be worth.
The Russian submarine fleet is smaller than the Soviet Navy’s at the time of the Cold War. But it is qualitatively better, with new buildings with increased capacity and experienced crews.
In addition, the activity of these Russian submarines, near the submarine communication cables, worries.
“We are now seeing Russian submarine activities close to these cables as we have never seen,” said Admiral Andrew Lennon, NATO’s chief of submarine forces, who spoke of naval offensive “from the Russian navy.
What’s more, the latter could benefit from new weapons, such as the “Poseidon” nuclear-powered “drone” (or “torpedo”). This system, which in November 2015 was the subject of a “leak” whose reason has escaped analysts, was officially unveiled by the Russian Ministry of Defense on 19 July.
According to the Russian media, Poseidon could carry a nuclear charge in order to destroy coastal infrastructure. It would also be likely to be used against aircraft carriers.
“The unique features of the Poseidon system will help the [Russian] Navy fight against aircraft carriers and attack potential enemy groups in any ocean war theater and destroy coastal infrastructure,” Admiral confirmed. Igor Katasonov, “analyst” in chief of the Russian General Staff.