C4iSR: Maritime

Testing the water: Saab sets out its future manned/unmanned fleet vision

02 January 2018

Key Points

  • Saab envisages distributed, networked force mix
  • Manned-unmanned teaming will be key to concept

In the mid-1980s, the Royal Swedish Navy (RSwN) and Sweden’s Defence Materiel Administration (FMV) began extensive scientific and technical research to understand if and how ‘stealth’ technology could be embodied in the design of the RSwN’s next generation of surface ships in order to improve their survivability. To support this programme, and provide solid evidence of whether innovative concepts and theories could translate into real-world practice, the surface effect ship (SES) testbed Smyge was built to serve as an experimental platform to evaluate signature reduction technologies, investigate the challenges of weapon/sensor integration into a stealth ship, and explore the benefits and limitations of SES technology.

Alongside the navy and FMV, the Smyge programme also involved key inputs from industry, academia, and the Swedish Defence Research Institute (FOI). A contract for the construction of the composite-built technology demonstrator vessel was placed in June 1989 with the Karlskronavarvet shipyard, now Saab’s Kockums business.

Delivered in 1991, Smyge was the subject of a comprehensive trials programme lasting through to late 1994. The outputs informed the development of a stealthy and compact multirole surface combatant design, initially known as YS 2000, that was able to execute anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and either mine countermeasures (MCM) or anti-surface warfare (ASuW) operations. YS 2000 ultimately took the physical and functional form of the Visby-class corvette, five of which today form the backbone of the Swedish surface fleet.

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