Turkey`s Only Domestic and National Underwater Environment Model (SORTAM)

Date: Issue 110 - October 2021

The Underwater Acoustic Environment Model (SORTAM) is the core product of ‘Koç Bilgi ve Savunma Teknolojileri’ (KoçSavunma) in modeling & simulation business area.. The main advantage of SORTAM is that the other products manufactured by only a handful companies in the world is suspectable to high licensing prices and applied quotas. 

Although the usage needs of underwater environment models are well known by Naval Warfare specialists, it would be helpful to bring to the attention of all decision-makers why these software tools for a very specific purpose are needed. In this context, if we compare SORTAM to a key, it is possible to say that without the key, which is the first link in the chain, it is not possible to succeed in anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and submarine warfare (SW).

Since ASW and SW are conducted and concluded under the sea, they highly depend on underwater acoustic environment sensors. Therefore, SONAR (Sound Navigation and Ranging) systems working with sound waves in the underwater acoustic environment play a leading role in executing the basic search, detection, identification, recognition, tracking, and attack methods. All other technologies that use the higher parts of the frequency band, especially magnetic and electro-optical, are used as complementary sensors for these warfare types alongside SONAR. Technological projections for the foreseeable future also indicate that acoustics will continue to be used as the primary sensors in ASW and SW. As a result, the SONAR technology, which has been in use for nearly a century, has basically not changed much, so the winner will be the one who makes the best use of the underwater acoustic environment.

Since the acoustic conditions in the water, temperature, pressure and salinity factors bend the linear propagation of sound waves, it is vital to know where these factors (which are constantly changing according to the environment) will carry the acoustic signals emitted by the sonars and where the sound cannot reach. In this information beam, called the sound propagation profile, elements operating both active and passive sonar will be able to estimate the range of their devices. 

To make this estimation in a very simple way, first of all, the elements on the battlefield need to process the temperature or sound velocity data in their region, which is collected via XBT or XSV devices, with software modeling to make sonar range estimation (varies with depth). While these estimation modeling tools were based on manual calculation methods in the past, with the transition to computer technology, this process can be done much faster and closer to reality, with programs based on software algorithms, and many parameters that seem like details but have an effect on accurate estimations can be processed precisely.

As a result, the tactical commanders on the battlefield can deploy their surface, underwater and air assets in the most advantageous positions, decide to operate their active sonars and make the most of the advantages of passive listening, only if they can predict sound propagation profiles as closely as possible in advance. The best opening moves required to win a chess game played at the expense of surviving or sinking can only be achieved with the effective use of underwater environment models. 

Unless the underwater environment conditions are well predicted, it will not be possible to use the SONAR devices, with a value of at least two-digit million dollars, carried on each ASW platform. 

As stated at the beginning, SORTAM is the only option that can meet this need domestically and nationally. Just like in the key example, its cost is negligible compared to the investment made in SONAR devices. 

During the development phase, SORTAM has been tested in real environments for a long time by taking advantage of the opportunities provided by the Turkish Naval Forces and has reached a level that can compete with its foreign counterparts thanks to the feedback and needs of the users to the system. The selection of SORTAM for the Pakistan MİLGEM Project (BABÜR Class Corvettes) has made the KoçSavunma Family proud, proving its worth in the international arena. The prestige of serving the highly respected Pakistan Navy is very valuable to us.

The primary mission of all Navies in the world is to be ready for war at any time. KoçSavunma is ready to serve with SORTAM on the same day it is requested to provide underwater environment modeling service, which is an indispensable element of combat readiness and ASW and SW, to the customer, including all friendly and Allied Naval Forces.