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New threats and new technological challenges for the world’s navies


Among the deep changes in the maritime world, two notable phenomena are constantly growing, undermining the sovereignty of States and their economic interests. The proliferation of asymmetric threats and the plundering of submarine resources are a real challenge for navies. A scourge that poses technological and operational challenges.

The multiplication of asymmetric threats

Terrorism, piracy against both commercial ships and private yachts, trafficking of drugs, weapons and human, non-state actors have now access to systems or technologies previously reserved for States. From the Gulf of Guinea to the Malacca strait and through the Indian Ocean, the perimeter and the number of areas to be protected continues to grow. Navies are thus entrusted with maritime traffic and sensitive areas surveillance mission, intelligence and protection operation. Since 2002, an international naval task force, the Combined Task Force 150, has sailed the oceans to monitor and inspect ships, and stop entities suspected of terrorism, piracy or trafficking.


Increased fighting over maritime spaces

Maritime spaces are increasingly a battleground for fish stocks and energy sources (oil, gas and minerals). For each nation with a coastline, surveillance of its Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) has become a major challenge or it runs the risk of seeing their marine resources being pillaged. Some especially rich zones, like the Sea of China, embody the tensions between neighboring countries. Potential conflicts to prevent by resorting if necessary to deterrence. However, because of globalization and interlinked economies, an open conflict in this region would have serious impact on the economic and social balance in the rest of the world: industrial production stopped due to lack of raw materials or components, partial unemployment of employees, inflation of prices of consumer goods, etc.


The digital revolution: a competitive advantage on the high seas

Given the intensification and diversification of seaborne threats, naval forces are engaged in a race for intelligence and technological superiority. The multiplication of intelligence sources brings navies into big data: introduction of drones, interconnected platforms, the real-time acquisition, transmission and filtering of data, and more. The challenge is to achieve technological superiority over one’s adversaries, enhance operational efficiency, and quickly understand complex situations to make faster, more effective decisions. In other words, to guarantee an autonomy of assessment and decision.

With the rise of non-state actors, a technological levelling is emerging upwards. More than ever, it is crucial for nations to invest in innovation to maintain a technological edge in detection, recognition, identification, acquisition and target designation. To carry out their surveillance, intelligence, protection and deterrence operations, navies must deploy the appropriate resources: day/night optronic search, detection and identification systems, gyrostabilized fire control systems, search and attack masts, drones, electrical-optical targeting systems, inertial navigation systems, etc. Many fields where Safran Electronics & Defense has developed a complete range of innovative yet proven solutions, delivering reliable, autonomous and versatile performance to today’s navies, under any circumstances.