AI will increase the effectiveness of the French Navy’s Golden Ears from 2025.

For a little over two years, not a day has gone by without global defense news discussing the announced arrival of Artificial Intelligence in the armed forces, and the considerable advances it will bring to the conduct of operations. military.

However, most often, these subjects are about AI on board drones or robots, and its world of fantasies fueled by science fiction and cyberpunk literature.

However, the greatest added value that AI will bring, and sometimes already brings, to armies, concerns neither the control of a drone, nor the autonomous decision to fire, but the capacity to process immense quantities of data, generated by the multitude of digitized sensors which now equip all military equipment, to extract relevant, humanly usable data.

Four main categories of data are thus targeted by numerous programs around the world: pure digital data, for example, that which circulates on the internet and social networks; optical and electro-optical data transmitted by satellites and tactical sensors; electromagnetic data emitted by radars and communication systems, and finally, acoustic data, which represents the alpha and omega in the field of underwater warfare.

An AI sieving and acoustic identification filter on board French ships and submarines from 2025

Analysis of the underwater acoustic spectrum is precisely the mission of the French Navy's Acoustic Interpretation and Reconnaissance Center, or CiRA. Created in 1983, it trains the famous Golden Ears and other DeASM (Anti-submarine Detector), which board French submarines, frigates and maritime patrol aircraft, to detect and track submarines and opposing surface units.

underwater sonar
Underwater warfare relies mainly on the exploitation of data passively acquired by the sensors of submarines and ships, to locate the adversary, without being detected itself.

And the mission is not simple. Indeed, the World of Silence, as presented by JY Cousteau, is silent in name only. On the contrary, the ocean is constantly the subject of an immense cacophony: shrimp, cetaceans, fish, rock movement and, of course, human activities, generate, on average, a background noise of around 40 to 50 dB in coastal area, and 30 dB in the depths, the noise of a modern washing machine.

The difficulty is all the greater because a modern submarine, operating at silent speed (from 6 to 14 knots, depending on the model), does not generate more than 30 dB of local acoustic radiation, while the noise of the ocean is uniform.

The golden ears manage to achieve this feat, which amounts to detecting, localizing and deciphering a whispered conversation between two people at the end of the runway at Roissy, while the planes are taking off, while being positioned more than 100 meters away.

Obviously, for this, they have very powerful microphones, passive sonars, and powerful tools to filter and analyze the sounds captured. However, they must still scan mountains of acoustic data to detect which ones may carry relevant information before being able to extract useful tactical data.

It is precisely on this subject that CiRA, and the start-up Preligens, intend to intervene today, by massive use of Artificial Intelligence. This will, in fact, make it possible to “sieve” the data, that is to say to eliminate all the data not containing relevant information, so as to transmit to the golden ears, the leads the promising ones.

gold ears national navy wax
The training of golden ears has been one of CiRA's missions since 1983.

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