Few parts of a submarine are as iconic as the periscope. For more than a century, periscopes have been sub commanders’ window to the outside world, allowing them to check their surroundings, find targets, and assess their attacks.
But that fundamental feature of the submariner’s world might soon be a relic. The US and UK are both fielding submarines equipped with new photonic and optronic masts that replace the periscope entirely while ensuring submariners can still see their targets on the surface. Lenses, mirrors, and prisms are being replaced with sensors, cameras, and fiber optics, and it is changing submarine designs for the better.