Antisubmarine warfare (ASW) capability can be expensive. Most navies use shipborne helicopters to employ dipping sonars and—sometimes—sonobuoys. Typically, the ship (often a frigate) makes an initial detection through its own long-range hull-mounted or towed-array sonar. The helicopter then moves in to confirm and prosecute a contact. But in peacetime, frigates and helicopters have other duties, and the ASW loadout is heavy, particularly the dipping sonar. This imposes a fuel cost with an impact on patrol time and range. Competing demands also affect crew expertise, as ASW is a perishable skill.
At the October 2018 Euronaval trade show, Ultra Electronics offered one possible solution—its Sonobuoy Mission Pod, suitable for helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The concept raises important questions about the possibility of relocating expertise, in this case from aircraft to an ASW center on board a ship—or even ashore.