How is the current geopolitical situation shaping the stance of Western navies?

Jonas Linde: Considering the recent shift in priorities among Western navies from anti-piracy patrols and other asymmetric operations towards a reinstated interest in defence of national sovereignty, border protection and securing lines of sea communications, new requirements and expectations will be and are being added. Indeed, as events in Ukraine and Syria have shown, Western democracies have for the first time in many years sensed a real military threat against their societies, which is undermined by disunity within the NATO alliance.

All this indicates that the post-Cold War peace order is severely challenged. For Western navies, this has translated into increased combat readiness among front-line units, which naturally poses a challenge in fielding hulls and crews. They need to be prepared to meet an adversary in battle who may well possess an equal or better military capability than their own, in terms of technology, training, and operational experience. The main focus for the navies will be to prepare for the symmetric battlefield of the future.

How are the FMV Naval Test Ranges working to adapt testing and evaluation (T&E), training and exercise opportunities to reflect new requirements for front-line naval units?

FMV Naval Test Ranges is leading the way in this respect with its development of our T&E, and training and exercise capability to support naval units in their efforts to increase combat readiness and to prepare for the symmetric battlefield of tomorrow. The goal has been to be able to set up advanced T&E scenarios, and to host complex live training and exercise events at ship level and above. One of the major drive factors has been to integrate a realistic element of surprise in our exercise opportunities and to present a battlespace with threats in four dimensions, just as you would expect in a conflict with a technologically equal adversary. With this in mind, we have developed our Symmetric Four Dimension Battlefield Exercise Arena at our Härnösand Naval Test, Training and Exercise Range.

What are the unique aspects of the Symmetric Four Dimension Battlefield Exercise Arena?

The main idea and the unique feature of the Symmetric Four Dimension Battlefield Exercise Arena is to simultaneously present dynamic threats in four domains: the air, surface, subsurface and in electronic warfare (EW). We achieve this by using remotely controlled drones, and real and simulated EW systems. The aim is to present an exercise scenario that will engage all sensor and weapon operators on the ship, and to challenge the commander and his battle management system with several dynamic, non-cooperative threats that must be engaged in four dimensions at the same time.

Performing this exercise at our Härnösand Naval Range allows the commander to go live on his weapon systems and perform hard kills on the presented targets as well as using live EW countermeasures. To add further stress on the unit under training, the scenario can be performed under jammed conditions. Besides allowing for the possibility to stage complex training scenarios with an element of unpredictability, the usage of drones instead of live assets releases in-demand units for front-line service.

How can the FMV Naval Test Ranges help better manage the signature shell of vessels?

Facing a technologically equal adversary means facing sensor systems with the same or better capacity as your own systems. The basic outcome of this is that you can no longer, as in an asymmetric context, assume to be the one to first track down an adversary and then deliver the first strike. To maximise your survivability and potential first strike prospect, it is of vital importance to know and manage your signature shell. That includes complex composition of different signatures that all have to be known, managed and maintained. At the FMV Naval Test Ranges, we have the capability, knowledge and expertise to perform measurement of more or less all aspects of the signature shell. We can also measure the effect of your EW-countermeasure systems, such as chaffs and flares.