21 August 2009IDAS is chiefly intended to defend the submarine from attack by ASW helicopters, but the missile can also strike unarmoured surface and coastal targets as a cheaper alternative to torpedoes or land-attack missiles. (image : Diehl)
In June 2009, delegates at the Undersea Defence Technology [UDT] Europe conference in Cannes learned that the German Navy had allocated funding to take the IDAS (Interactive Defence and Attack System for Submarines) submerged-launched precision weapon into production.
Developed by the ARGE IDAS consortium - comprising ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems' Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) division, Diehl BGT Defence and Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace (KDA) - IDAS is intended to provide a precision attack capability against surface and onshore targets and a 'last ditch' self-defence capability against anti-submarine warfare (ASW) helicopters.
Supported by Germany's Federal Office for Defence Technology and Procurement (BWB), the navy is planning to retrofit IDAS into its Type 212A submarines. Four of the HDW-built boats were commissioned between 2005 and 2007, and two more are expected to enter service in 2013.
German U-Boat U-33 fired the IDAS missile the first time and successfully downed the target drone at a height of 1500 meters. IDAS is equipped with a searchhead camera that enables the soldiers to lead it into the target from the U-boat, making the missile hard to disrupt and very accurate. (photo : Marine)
Diehl BGT Defence's product manager, Klaus-Eberhard Moeller, told the UDT audience: "In 2011 we will conclude [IDAS] proposal and contracting activities with the BWB, with a four-year full development programme beginning in 2012. Production will start in 2016."
The ASW helicopter is probably the submariner's deadliest foe. Operating from a land base or surface ship, an aircraft can reach a target area rapidly, conduct a persistent search for submarines using its active dipping sonar, and prosecute a torpedo attack with no fear of retaliation from the submerged boat.
The possibility of developing a submarine-launched missile to counter this threat has been under discussion internationally since the 1980s.
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IDAS Notches Up First Submarine Firing
12 Juni 2008
Artist's impression of IDAS launch from a submarine. (Image: Diehl)
An Interactive Defence and Attack system for Submarines (IDAS) missile has been successfully launched from the German Navy's Type 212A submarine U 33.The IDAS missile is about the same size as the ubiquitous AIM-9L Sidewinder from Raytheon (built under license by Diehl BGT Defence) and Diehl's IRIS-T missile (aft). Seen here on display at ILA 2008 in Berlin. (Photo: Joris Janssen Lok )
The submarine firing follows underwater test launches from facilities on the Baltic and North Sea run by the WTD 71 Technical Centre for Ships and Naval Weapons in the second half of 2006.
The test firing took place in the Baltic on 29 May 2008 and provided evidence that the underwater launch sequence, so far tested only from shallow basins, can be replicated from a submerged submarine. However, another important objective was validating the performance of the fibre-optic datalink.
The link provides a bi-directional data stream and allows the operator to view the seeker image from an existing multifunction console in the submarine's combat information centre and observe the mission or record it for verification and analysis purposes.
However, the system also provides the operator with the ability to manually override the controls and steer the missile onto the target, or abort the mission.
Speaking to Jane's, representatives at Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) and Diehl Defence BGT confirmed that the link worked as expected, although images taken from the missile's seeker head were not yet available at the time of going to press.