Monday, February 20, 2017

U.S. Navy Awards $126M for Virginia-Class Block V Submarine Components

Tammy Waitt, American Security Today
16 February 2017

General Dynamics Electric Boat (GDEB) has been awarded a $126.5 million contract by the U.S. Navy for long lead time material for the first two Block V Virginia-class submarines, SSN-802 and SSN-803.
The contract provides funding for steam and electric-plant components, the main propulsion units and ship-service turbine generators, and miscellaneous hull, mechanical and electrical-system components to support construction of the two submarines beginning in fiscal year 2019.
Block V will include submarines with the Virginia Payload Module (VPM), which comprises four additional large-diameter payload tubes in a new hull section inserted amidships.
Extending the hull by 84 feet, the VPM will boost strike capacity by more than 230 percent per ship and enable distribution of strike assets, giving theater commanders greater discretion in staging payloads.
For enemies of the United States, the U.S. Navy is a frightening adversary; but perhaps the most frightening thing about it is the fact that at any given moment, the Navy’s submarine force is patrolling the deep, carrying deadly weapons and skilled crews anywhere they are needed.
The submarine force can operate in any environment, from the icy seas of the Arctic to the deep oceans of the world. It can accomplish a variety of missions as well, including long-range missile attacks, special forces delivery, anti-ship and submarine warfare, and many top secret missions.

Virginia Class

Representing a revolution in advanced design and construction techniques and mission flexibility, Virginia-class submarines are providing the U.S. Navy with the capabilities it requires to maintain undersea superiority well into the 21st century.
The Virginia class is the first U.S. Navy warship designed from the keel up for the full range of mission requirements in the post-Cold War era.
Optimized for maximum technological and operational flexibility, these submarines will play a key role in the nation’s defense with their stealth, firepower and unlimited endurance.
Under the terms of a $4.2 billion contract awarded by the Navy in 1998, a $8.4 billion multiyear contract awarded in January 2004, a $14 billion multiyear contract awarded in December 2008, and a $17.6 billion multi-year contract awarded in April 2014, Electric Boat is sharing construction of the first 28 ships of the class with its teammate, Huntington Ingalls-Newport News Shipbuilding.
Electric Boat delivered the lead ship of the class, Virginia (SSN774), on Oct. 12, 2004. It was commissioned into the fleet 11 days later, on Oct. 23, 2004, ushering in a new era of warfare from under the sea.
The USS Illinois was christened in October 2015 by First Lady Michelle Obama, only the fourth Electric Boat submarine christened by a First Lady.

Thursday, February 16, 2017

India Set To Test Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile

It would give India the capability to strike targets in China or Pakistan from the Bay of Bengal in the event of war.

James Di Pane and Lisa Curtis, National Interest
14 February 2017 

A key American partner, India, is set to conduct another missile test that will have a wide range of consequences on regional dynamics for years to come.
India’s new K-4 nuclear-capable, submarine-launched ballistic missile is expected to have a range of 3,500 kilometers, a serious improvement over its current operational missile of the same kind.
When coupled with India’s burgeoning nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine program, India is set to seriously increase its second-strike capability in the coming years.
This trend aligns with India’s ongoing efforts to modernize its military with particular focus on naval power. A heftier military capability will extend India’s national influence and potentially rival China.
India’s current operational submarine-launched ballistic missile, the K-15, has a range of approximately 750 kilometers and was designed to be used by the INS Arihant,
India’s first indigenously built nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine.
While the Arihant is primarily a training platform that will be used to train crews for future nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines, it is also capable of conducting deterrence patrols. India currently has plans to build up to five nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines of a similar design in the future.
Based on the Arihant’s design, these will most likely be used in naval bastions, with cover provided by other naval vessels and aircraft in the Bay of Bengal or near the Andaman and Nicobar islands. These submarines lack the necessary speed and stealth capabilities to effectively defend themselves against hostile attack submarines.
That is why the increased range of the K-4 is so significant. It would give India the capability to strike targets in China or Pakistan from the Bay of Bengal in the event of war. India is also expected to increase naval facilities on the Andaman and Nicobar islands for this purpose.
Some have argued that this new capability from India could lead to more destabilization and conflict in the region rather than less, forcing an arms race in anti-submarine weapons or adding a destabilizing element to future crises.
While that may be the case, second-strike capability is a priority for India due to its policy of “no first use” with its nuclear arsenal. In order to maintain deterrence, it has to ensure that its arsenal cannot be neutralized by a preemptive strike.
Nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines have secured this capability for the U.S., Soviet Union/Russia, and China for years, and India seems set to cultivate this technology for its own security.
As the U.S. looks to India to play a more active role in the Asia-Pacific region, this growth in capability will enhance India’s ability to step into that role, further increasing the potential of the U.S.-India strategic partnership.


 DARPA Discovers "GPS-Like" Undersea Drone Connectivity

Kris Osborne, Defense Systems
14 February 2017 

The Pentagon’s research entity and BAE Systems are working together to develop a next-generation undersea drone communications technology to help identify mines, find enemy submarines and surveil many items relevant to combat missions.
Using underwater acoustic signals, a surface buoy, beacon or “node,” and GPS signals in a coordinated fashion, the Positioning System for Deep Ocean Navigation (POSYDON) is able to quickly relay location coordinates from undersea drones on patrol to command and control systems on board a ship or submarine.
The program, now in a Phase I developmental effort, is a collaborative enterprise between industry and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
POSYDON provides “omnipresent, robust positioning across ocean basins. By ranging to a small number of long-range acoustic sources, an undersea platform would be able to obtain continuous, accurate positioning without surfacing for a GPS fix,” DARPA developers explained.
While experts say there are some very low-frequency radios that can transmit some kind of signal undersea, submarines need to surface in order to achieve a strong radio frequency (RF) or GPS signal for on-the-spot data and communications.
“You can receive GPS at very shallow depths, but that is not relevant to where we operate. POSYDON brings a ‘GPS-like’ capability to submerged users,” said Lin Haas, program manager for the DARPA Strategic Technology Office, in a newly released agency podcast.
Military scientists and technology developers refer to the effort to establish connectivity in a “GPS-denied” environment as acquiring “precision, navigation and timing.”
However, the scientific challenges of bringing seamless connectivity undersea, similar to the way GPS functions on the surface, are substantial, Haas explained.
GPS signals work with algorithms able to compute the distance of an object by knowing the constant or “fixed” speed of light and the time of travel. If the length of travel is identified, along with the speed of a signal, then algorithms can quickly determine a precise distance, therefore identifying an object.
For example, an electromagnetic signal used by a radar system -- or laser from a weapon’s laser rangefinder -- would use the known speed of light, and time of travel, to quickly identify the location, shape or speed of an object.
However, with acoustic signals undersea, determining distance is much more complex, Haas explained.
“For GPS the speed of light is constant. That is not the case for underwater speed of sound. Underwater signals are a function of many things, primarily temperature and salinity. We have developed models that account for all these acoustic signals underwater. Underwater signals don’t travel in a single line,” Haas said.
As a result, there is no linear transmission from transmitter to receiver with acoustic signals.
“Acoustic signals will take many paths; the signal is refracted through temperature and pressure profiles. Algorithms can improve current models and develop new modes,” Haas added.
Therefore, underwater drones can use acoustic waves to relay real-time info back to submarines.
DARPA officials say BAE Systems, Raytheon BBN and Draper Laboratory are all working on the POSYDON program.
“GPS signals bounce off ocean surfaces and cannot penetrate seawater. The importance of POSYDON is to make sure that these UUVs [unmanned underwater vehicles] can really focus on their missions without having to periodically come to the surface for GPS to figure out exactly where they are,” said Geoff Edelson, director of Maritime Systems and Technology at BAE Systems.
The technology relies upon a kind of “triangulation,” Edelson explained. A GPS signal emerging from a satellite is sent to a surface node -- which then uses acoustic waves to connect with and locate an undersea drone.
“Many signals do not propagate under the sea. Light cannot travel very far and RF signals do not really propagate under the sea. With POSYDON, a GPS signal is replaced by low-frequency acoustic signals,” Edelson said.
The POSYDON effort is progressing through Phase I of a three-phased effort; Phase I involves modeling signal propagation channels, Phase II is intended to develop a single waveform and Phase III is aimed at building a complete prototype positioning system, according to DARPA.
“Right now we are analyzing data to ensure the concept has merit. We are going ‘point to point’ from a source to one or two receivers,” Edelson said.
The emergence of this technology, which is still likely several years away from operational use, is entirely consistent with the Navy’s undersea drone strategy. Undersea drones are increasingly critical countering emerging high-tech surface and sub-surface threats such as quieter, more advanced submarine technology and weapons being developed by potential adversaries.
UUVs that are better able to transmit information back to host platforms, and quickly provide their location data, can naturally assist in locating enemy targets, undersea mines and other items of critical relevance to Navy missions.
POSYDON technology, once operational, could work with existing platforms, such as Wave Gliders, designed to collect target and threat information, as well as oceanographic and hydrographic information.  
For instance, a current underwater drone called the Seaglider uses buoyancy and wings to achieve forward motion as opposed to an electrically driven propeller. For long periods of time it is able to gather oceanographic data, such as water column temperature or salinity, collecting the data and then sending it back.
Emerging POSYDON technology could also be of great use to Virginia-class attack submarines and Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines working to establish navigational parameters, identify objects of interest and even pinpoint threat locations at greater distances.
In fact, the Navy is now experimenting with undersea drones that are able to launch and return from submarine missile tubes, improving mission efficiency and expediting launch and recovery operations. Therefore, being able to precisely identify the location of operational UUVs in a given area of operations would be of great value.
Given that much of the technology relies upon fast-developing algorithms, rapid progress in the area of artificial intelligence (AI) is important to this effort.
This trajectory will ultimately likely lead to the use of more AI, drawing upon more independent, computer-driven unmanned systems to gather, organize and integrate a vast array of different information and sensor data before providing it to human commanders.
Groups of undersea drones will soon simultaneously use sonar and different sensors to identify and destroy enemy submarines and surface ships, search for mines, collect oceanographic data and conduct reconnaissance missions -- all while a single human performs command and control functions aboard a Navy ship or submarine, senior Navy officials explained.
Perhaps several submarine-launched underwater robots or large-displacement unmanned undersea vehicles could identify a threatening enemy submarine or surface vessel at distances far beyond the normal detection range.
The idea is to capitalize upon the increasing speed of computer processing and rapid improvements in the development of autonomous vehicle software. This will allow unmanned systems to quickly operate with an improved level of autonomy, function together as part of an integrated network, and more quickly perform a wider range of functions without needing every individual task controlled by humans. The strategy is also aimed at enabling submarines, surface ships and some land-based operations to take advantage of these fast-emerging computer technologies.
Perhaps a number of small drones could send out an acoustic ping and then analyze the return signal to pinpoint the location of a threatening enemy target, providing a submarine with the necessary data to launch a precision-guided heavyweight torpedo to destroy the threat from a safer distance. 
Integrated drone groups would then instantly relay pertinent data to underwater or ship-board computing systems and sensors. As a result, humans in a command and control function would have access to relevant information faster and more efficiently, providing a larger window with which to make critical decisions, senior Navy officials explained.

Lockheed Martin To Build Additional Trident II Missiles

Ryan Maass, UPI News
15 February 2017 

Lockheed Martin received a $540 million contract modification for Trident II ballistic fleet missile production and deployed system support.
The modification supports production efforts for the U.S. Navy and the British Royal Navy. The Trident II is currently equipped on the U.S. Navy's Ohio-class submarines as well as the Royal Navy's Vanguard-class submarines.
The U.S. Department of Defense says the work will be performed at various locations in California, Minnesota, Georgia, Washington, and several others, and expects the work to be complete by September 2021.
Lockheed Martin received roughly $453 million in weapon procurement funds from the Navy, plus an additional $50.7 million from the Royal Navy. The company also received $36 million in fiscal 2017 operation and maintenance funds, which are set to expire at the end of the current fiscal year.
The Strategic Systems Programs in Washington, D.C., is listed as the contracting activity.
The Trident II D5 missile is primarily produced by Lockheed Martin's Space Systems division, and has been used in over 160 flight tests since it was first designed in 1999.
Ballistic fleet missiles, also known as submarine-launched ballistic missiles, are designed to carry nuclear warheads. The United States began using this family of weapons with the Polaris A1 missile, which was powered by solid fuel rocket motors.

Navy Missiles Light Up Skies Over Monterey Bay

Bucky Helwick, KSBW
15 February 2017

SANTA CRUZ, Calif. —Early risers around the Monterey Bay marveled at two bright lights blazing through the sky before sunrise Tuesday.
The U.S. Navy launched two Trident II missiles over the Pacific Ocean from a submarine off the coast of Southern California, and they were seen from as far north as the San Francisco Bay Area.
Navy public affairs officer John Daniels told KSBW that the missiles were unarmed and never flew over land.
The Navy's Trident II missiles serve as nuclear deterrents and have a 4,000-mile range.
"A credible, effective nuclear deterrent is essential to our national security and the security of U.S. allies. Deterrence remains a cornerstone of national security policy in the 21st century. The Navy's Trident II (D5) strategic weapon system provides the most survivable leg of the strategic deterrent Triad," Daniels said.
The Navy said it conducts missile flight tests on a regular, frequent basis.
"Test flights were not conducted in response to any ongoing world events, or as a demonstration of power," Daniels said.
Tuesday's missiles were launched from an Ohio Class SSBN submarine. All Pacific Test Range flights are launched from sea, flown over the sea, and land in the sea, Daniels said.
"Missiles are tracked from multiple sources from launch until final impact in the ocean," he said.

Norway and Germany Start Cooperation On Submarine And Missile Deliveries 

Staff, Naval Technology
16 February 2017 

Authorities from the Norwegian and German governments have initiated a comprehensive industrial cooperation on submarine and missile deliveries, thereby securing job opportunities in Norway.
The strategic partnership between the two European countries for the purchase of submarines now includes the Naval Strike Missile (NSM), developed by Norway-based manufacturer Kongsberg.
Norway Prime Minister Erna Solberg said: “The government is working to achieve industrial agreements with the ambition that they will secure work for Norwegian defence industry to a value corresponding to the acquisition of new submarines.
“The Norwegian defence industry has solid products of relevance for new submarines, and we are working hard to secure access to international markets for these and other Norwegian defence products.”
The missile cooperation between the nations boosts further development of the missile, as the German Navy plans to procure several NSMs for its vessels. It will also support joint maintenance and logistics between the navies of Germany and Norway.
Kongsberg will have the large and major deliveries to the new submarines along with a network of about 100 small and large suppliers across the country, while the combat management system for the submarines will be supplied by the Norwegian industry.
Norway Defence Minister Ine Eriksen Søreide said: “Germany is planning to acquire a significant number of missiles for its navy; this provides great opportunities for Norwegian industry, both for Kongsberg and Norwegian subcontractors.
“It is important to ensure technological advancement of Norwegian missile technology, and in the years ahead we will, along with Germany, further develop the Norwegian NSM against future threats.”


U.S. Navy Aims To Protect Sensitive Information On Captured Unmanned Sea Systems

Marc Selinger, Defense Daily
15 February 2017

Two months after the Chinese military briefly detained a U.S. Navy unmanned undersea vehicle (UUV), the service is taking a close look at how to ensure its unmanned maritime systems do not reveal secrets if they fall into the wrong hands in the future.
Capt. Jonathan Rucker, program manager for Unmanned Maritime Systems, said the Navy is studying how an unmanned vehicle can "get wiped" of sensitive information if it gets captured. While many manned systems have such security procedures, they are often initiated by their crews, something that unmanned systems, by definition, do not have onboard.
A rendering of the Knifefish unmanned underwater vehicle which will be deployed from the littoral combat ship to sweep mines. Illustration: General Dynamics.
"It's definitely a different challenge because you now have to rely on the system to know.that it's been compromised and then go through and carry out the procedures that you want it to do," Rucker told Defense Daily after speaking at an American Society of Naval Engineers (ASNE) symposium in Arlington, Va.
The Chinese military returned the two-meter-long UUV after snatching it from international waters in the South China Sea. Used to gather military oceanographic data, such as ocean temperature, salinity and depth information, the UUV is part of a fleet of Littoral Battlespace Sensing-Gliders and was built by Teledyne Technologies [TDY] Teledyne Webb Research. A Pentagon spokesman said in December that the returned UUV appeared to be in "good working order based on an initial physical inspection."
Rucker said a feature to protect sensitive information, such as software, will be required on the future Extra Large Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (XLUUV), for which the Navy plans to issue a final request for proposals as early as Feb. 17.
Contractors will have 90 days to submit bids for the XLUUV, and the Navy hopes to award up to two design contracts by the end of fiscal year 2017. The Navy will later pick one contractor to build five vehicles.
The XLUUV will be greater than 54 inches in diameter and have long range and endurance. It could support multiple missions, including mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.