What is the mystery behind the cryptic name of MSI-90U Mk 2?
Photo:PETTER BRENNI GULBRANDSEN / FORSVARET
“Be hind the name is an extremely advanced combat management system which collects and processes all information received for a submarine,” explains Tom Engen Aslaksby, who is portfolio manager for submarines.
“MSI stands for Multi Sensor Integration. 90U means the submarines from the 1990s. And Mk 2 indicates that this is version number 2 or the second generation. We produced these types of system for the Norwegian Kobben class in the 1970s (MSI- 70U), but the 1990s version was so successful that we decided to keep the name, for the sake of the brand.”
“What are the marks of a modern submarine?”
“The one part that has seen most change are the sensors fitted in modern submarines. They have both more sensors which have substantially higher functionality and capacity than the previous generation.”
“And that’s where MSI-90U Mk 2 comes in?”
“Exactly. Because the periscopes, sonars etc. have become so advanced they also generate extremely large volumes of data. Our system filters and presents these data in a way which is easy to understand for operators, who often have to make very quick decisions in a stressful situation. The MSI-90U Mk 2 provides an image of the submarine’s tactical situation. In the worst case scenario, the system prepares the operator to engage a hostile target in a situation involving live torpedoes.”
“So the system is designed to deal with live weapons?”
“It is a weapon control system, but also much more. The system is extremely valuable for intelligence purposes, where large volumes of information have to be made ready in a short space of time. This functionality is referred to as decision-making support and has become more relevant in recent years. As the application of submarines has grown and continues to grow wider over the years, the naval forces from a number of countries have shown an interest in this function.”
“Are there any other functions you can mention?”
“We also have what we refer to as tactical functions. This could be calculating the distance to a target, calculating the collision point etc. And then there are the weapon functions. The system helps prepare torpedoes, neutralise pressure in the torpedo tubes, fire and control the torpedoes during the different stages of an attack.”
“It sounds like an extremely complex system?”
“It is complex, not least because of the vast volume of data it has to process. The information also comes from different types of sensors, so it is not a simple job to present all this data in a way which is easy to understand. And then it all has to happen in real time, without delay.”
“How do modern submarines differ from the older versions?”
“The older submarines had a lot of mechanical equipment. Today, everything is electronic. That’s the biggest change. Today, a submarine can use its sensors to keep an overview of very large areas, and the situation can easily become over-complex. In the old days, the submarines were used as ‘cold warriors’, waiting submerged for the enemy. Today, they are most often used as a ‘stationed sensor’, as they can operate without being visible and can collect information from areas where other platforms do not work. We are constantly trying to adapt to changes in the maritime environment. The fact that the situation has become so complex can obviously present challenges for the operators onboard the submarines. But this system really helps.”