This website uses cookies to manage authentication, navigation, and other functions. By using our website, you agree that we can place these types of cookies on your device.

Latest Russian Submarines Being Fitted with Non-Penetrating Electro-Optical Masts

Naval Industry News - Russia
Latest Russian Submarines Being Fitted with Non-Penetrating Electro-Optical Masts
The optical lenses of the periscopes equipping the Project 885 Yasen-class (NATO reporting name: Severodvinsk-class) nuclear-powered attack and Project 955 (Borey-class) ballistic missile (SSBN) submarines have been replaced with the sophisticated electronic system with optical zoom and a radio direction-finder, according to the Izvestia daily newspaper.
Electro Optical Mast EO periscope russia submarine 1Project 885 Yasen-class SSN with its various masts extended
The electro-optical periscopes have been developed and made by the Elektropribor Central Research Institute in St. Petersburg. They are complex systems embodying electro-optical (EO) and electronic intelligence systems.

"Such periscopes equip all Russian Navy submarines under construction, and the in-service ones will be equipped during repair and upgrade,"
Elektropribor Chief Engineer Vitaly Postnikov told the Izvestia daily.

According to the newspaper, the unique EO system will furnish both the Russian nuclear-powered submarines and the Project 677 Lada-class (Petersburg-class) and Project 636.3 (Improved Kilo-class) diesel-electric boats.
Electro Optical Mast EO periscope russia submarine 2Project 955 Borey-class SSBN with its various masts extended. Sevmash picture

In outward appearance, the EO periscope looks the same as the traditional ones. It is a telescopic mast topped by an optical unit. However, it is an utterly new device as far as its innards are concerned. Inside, the traditional refracting lens system has been ousted by electronics. The EO periscope is linked with the conn by means of cables connected to the central control panel. Imagery is transmitted to several combat stations of the submarine at once. Until now, only the crewman using the periscope could see what was in progress on the surface.

Another key feature of the EO periscope is that it can traverse 360 deg. in a fraction of a second, video-recording everything on the surface. The optical system spots ships, submarines, planes and helicopters at a distance of several dozen kilometers. Comparing the optical and infrared images of the targets against the database, the system identifies targets and displays their parameters and coordinates automatically. This enables the captain to grasp the surface situation - types of the targets, their parameters, coordinates, speed, course and even names - in a few seconds. The capability is inaccessible to any of the Western-made periscopes.

The key element of the EO periscopes developed by Shvabe (a subsidiary of Rostec) is a cutting-edge zoom optical system that is a complex precision lens system capable of varying the viewing angle smoothly and without losing the definition quality, zooming in on the targets. Simply put, it is the optical zoom available in all video and still cameras now.

"The new system in EO periscopes enables the submariners to quickly choose the optimal magnification and field of view," Shvabe - Technological Laboratory Director General Fyodor Broun says. "The image definition like that is unavailable to fixed-focus optical systems used in the direct-view periscopes."

Electro Optical Mast EO periscope russia submarine 3Example of periscope systems by Elektropribor Central Research Institute
These days, EO periscopes have been gradually ousting traditional observation hardware onboard foreign submarines. They have been equipping the US Navy’s Seawolf-class nuclear-powered submarines as part of their upgrade, while the advanced Virginia-class submarine is the world’s first boat lacking traditional optics replaced with as many as two EO masts. Such vision devices have been used in the less expensive diesel-electric subs as well, e.g. the French Scorpene, German Type 212A and South Korean Chang Bogo.

"Such instruments have many advantages over traditional periscopes," military expert Yuri Lyamin told the Izvestia daily. "The flexible cable makes it unnecessary to drill a large hole in the submarine’s hard skin and removes the periscope mast well running throughout the hull from the internal layout."

Compared with traditional vision devices, the EO mast provides observation in both the optical and infrared wavebands, which is especially relevant for using it below the surface, according to the Izvestia daily.