Friday, October 28, 2016

Navy Nears Competition For Extra Large Unmanned Underwater Vehicle

The U.S. Navy plans to buy 30 of the systems to hunt and neutralize mines.

Marc Selinger, Defense Daily
26 October 2016 
The U.S. Navy plans to conduct an industry competition for the Extra Large Unmanned Underwater Vehicle (XLUUV) in the current fiscal year, according to a service official.
In September, the Navy issued a request for information (RFI) on capabilities that could help it achieve the extended-range vehicle.
The service is now reviewing the responses, said Nidak Sumrean, executive director of the program executive office for Littoral Combat Ships (LCS), which includes the Unmanned Maritime Systems Program Office.
The Navy plans to build five XLUUV vehicles and deliver them to the fleet "in the next couple of years," Sumrean said Oct. 25 at the Unmanned Systems Defense conference in Arlington, Va. The vehicle could support multiple missions, including mine countermeasures, anti-submarine warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR).
"The Navy is taking an accelerated approach with industry to leverage existing unmanned undersea vehicle designs that can be modified to rapidly bring additional capabilities to the undersea domain," the Navy wrote in the RFI.
Sumrean also the Navy's progress outlined on other new unmanned maritime systems, including the Common Unmanned Surface Vessel (CUSV) and the Knifefish UUV. The Navy plans to experiment with the 11-meter-long CUSV in fiscal years 2017 and 2018. CUSV, made by TEXTRON, is designed to hunt and neutralize mines, but could also have other uses, including towing, sonar and conducting ISR.
Knifefish, a mine hunter built by GENERAL DYNAMICS, will be tested aboard LCS in FY 2017 and is scheduled to be fielded starting in FY 2018. The Navy plans to buy 30 systems, six of which will be for training.

Navy's Ohio Replacement Sub Faces DoD Review In November

Marc Selinger, Defense Daily
26 October 2016 
The Pentagon plans to conduct a high-level review of the Navy's Ohio class replacement submarine program in early November, a key service official said Oct. 26.
The Defense Acquisition Board (DAB) meeting, overseen by the Office of the Secretary of Defense, is expected to scrutinize the program's progress, formally green-light the effort and set a cost baseline, said Rear Adm. Michael Jabaley, the Navy's program executive officer for submarines, who spoke at a Naval Submarine League symposium in Arlington, Va.
But Jabaley warned that the program could be slowed if Congress does not approve $773 million for fiscal year 2017 detail design work by about Jan. 1. Lawmakers have not yet passed an FY 2017 defense appropriations bill, and the current continuing resolution, which funds the federal government until December, does not contain the design money. Navy officials insist the program's schedule is already tight and cannot afford a delay.
"It is a perilous situation that I am hopeful will be resolved either in the next continuing resolution or with the passage of an appropriations bill" for FY 2017, Jabaley said.
For its part, the Navy is using "aggressive prototyping scheme" to keep the program on track, Jabaley said. With research and development funding, "we are already building pieces of this ship," including missile tubes components that will be installed on the first sub, he said.
The Navy plans to buy a total of 12 new submarines to replace 14 aging Ohio boomers. GENERAL DYNAMICS [GD] Electric Boat is the prime contractor and HUNTINGTON INGALLS INDUSTRIES (HII) Newport News Shipbuilding is taking a secondary role. Construction of the first new sub is scheduled to begin in 2021.
Jabaley said the Navy is "working very hard" with its shipbuilders to complete negotiations on a contract to complete the sub's design. Electric Boat has been conducting research and development for the new vessel under a five-year, $1.85-billion contract awarded in December 2012.
In 2014, the Navy calculated that designing the sub and preparing construction yards would cost $17.4 billion, and that building "follow" ships two through 12 would cost an average of $5.2 billion.

General Dynamics Expects Major Contract For Ohio Replacement By End Of Year 

Jason Sherman, Inside Defense
26 October 2016
General Dynamics expects the Navy to award a contract to commence detailed design and construction of the Ohio-class replacement submarine program by the end of the year,  the top executive of the defense contractor said this week, providing new insight into the revised schedule for the high-profile program. 
Phebe Novakovic, General Dynamics chairman and chief executive officer, said during an Oct. 26 earnings call with investment bankers today that the company proposed to a detailed design to the Navy for the new ballistic missile submarine this summer along with proposals for component development design. 
"And they would like to give us an award by the end of the year," Novakovic said. 
Previously, the Navy had aimed to seek permission in August from the Pentagon's acquisition executive to transition the Ohio-class Replacement Program from technology maturation and risk reduction into engineering and manufacturing development and award a contract for detailed design and construction to General Dynamics by Oct. 1. 
Last month, however, Navy officials acknowledged that schedule had slipped. A meeting of the Defense Acquisition Board meeting is now scheduled for Nov. 1 to consider a milestone B decision for the Ohio-Replacement Program, a decision with major budgetary implications for the service and the Defense Department. 
"When you think about these large, nationally strategic programs, one of the most important things that we all get right is that cost is well understood," Novakovic said. 
"One of the things that has been driving our work the last three years is a bottom-up analysis of full cost of construction," she added. "That will be an important element as we work through those costs with the Navy." 
As part of the milestone B review, Pentagon leaders will consider cost estimates from the Navy and the office of cost analysis and program evaluation. These estimates will supersede 2014 Navy figures that have been the basis for public discussion of the new submarine program. 
That 2014 estimate, in then-year dollars, includes "lead ship end cost (with plans)" to be $14.5 billion, the "lead ship end cost (without plans)" to be $8.8 billion; lead ship non-recurring engineering to be $17.4 billion, and the average ship cost for boats two through 12 to be $9.8 billion, according to a February report to Congress. 
The "end costs" account for government-furnished equipment, ordnance, construction costs as well as change costs, according to the report. 
Non-recurring engineering accounts for one-time costs to research, develop, design and test new things while the cost of plans factors in NRE for detail design funded in the Navy's shipbuilding accounts. 
The Navy is seeking $773 million in advance procurement funding in FY-17 -- the first resources for construction of the new ship class. The lead ship of the planned 12-submarine fleet is forecast to cost $14.5 billion,
according to the most recent Navy figures. The service plans to finance the bulk of the procurement costs of the lead ship across seven years with most of the payments in 2021, 2022, and 2023. 
Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson told a Senate panel last month that the Navy is looking to the new year for the Ohio Replacement Program to transition to the next phase in the acquisition system. 
"In the immediate future, January 2017 is planned to be a major ORP milestone when we transition from research and development to ship construction funding in order to conduct detailed design work," Richardson told the Senate Armed Services Committee Sept. 14.

Enlisted Women in Submarines Road Shows Hit Fleet Concentration Areas

Lt. Lily Hinz,
27 October 2016
KINGS BAY, Ga. – Following the announcement of the opening of the third application window for enlisted women in submarines, the Enlisted Women in Submarines (EWIS) Task Force began their roadshow circuit to provide informational briefs for command career counselors and female enlisted Sailors interested in learning more about opportunities to apply to become a submariner. Below is a schedule of roadshow events:

Navy Region Southeast: 8-9 November
- NAS Jacksonville
Date: Nov.9
Time: 1300-1430
Location: Religious Education Center (Bldg 749)
-Naval Station Mayport
Date: Nov.9
Time: 1245-1415 and 1430-1600
Location: ATG Auditorium

Pacific Northwest: 14-16 November
- Naval Base Kitsap
Date: Nov. 14
Time: 0900-100
Location: NOSC Bremerton Auditorium (Bldg 1013)
Date: Nov. 14
Time: 1430-1530
Location: Off Crew Bldg 2100, Room #103/104
- Naval Air Station Whidbey Island
Date: Nov. 15
Time: 0900-1000 and 1200-1300
Location: NOSC Bldg 2739 Room 120
- Naval Station Everett
Date: Nov. 16
Time: 0900-1000 and 1200-1300
Location: Bldg 2000 Auditorium

San Diego: 17 November
- Naval Air Station North Island
Date: Nov. 17
Time: 0900-1100
Location: CNAP Auditorium (Bldg 8C)
- Naval Base San Diego
Date: Nov. 17
Time: 1300-1500
Location: Career Information Center (Bldg 3416)

The recruitment for this cycle of applicants comes on the heels of successful integration of female officers and senior enlisted Sailors onboard submarines that started in 2010.
In January 2013, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta rescinded the 1994 Direct Combat Exclusion act which restricted women from serving onboard submarines.
Naval Administrative (NAVADMIN) message 19/15 entitled, "Opening Submarine Force Billets to Enlisted Women," detailed the enlisted women integration plan and was formally approved in December 2014 for federal funding by Congress.
This year, NAVADMIN message 196/16 detailed requirements for female Sailors interested in applying.
Female Sailors in ranks Seaman Recruit to Senior Chief Petty Officer are eligible to apply.

Chief Petty Officer and Senior Chief Petty Officer conversions are available in:
* C260 - Information Systems Technician (ITS)
* C170 - Culinary Specialist (CS)
* C220 - Logistics Specialist (LS)
* G065 - Independent Duty Corpsman HM(IDC)
* C250 - Yeoman (YN)

Petty Officer 1st Class and below conversions 
are available in:
* C130 - Fire Control Technician (FT)
* C150/C151 - Machinist's Mate (MM) (Auxiliary or Weapons)
* C121/C126 - Electronics Technician (ET) (Navigation or Communication)
* C170 - Culinary Specialist (CS)
* C220 - Logistics Specialist (LS)
* C250 - Yeoman (YN)
* C260 - Information Systems Technician (ITS)
* C230 - Sonar Technician Submarines (STS)
* C180 - Missile Technician (MT)

This cycle of conversions will be for the initial enlisted integration of USS Ohio (SSGN 726) submarine crews in Bangor, Washington in 2018.
Applications are due by April 1, 2017 and the selection process will begin in May 2017.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

USS Key West Returns from National Tasking

Lt. Lauren Spaziano,
25 October 2016
The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Key West (SSN 722) returned to its homeport of Apra Harbor, Guam, on Oct. 25 following a four and a half-month forward operating period to the Western Pacific.
Key West, under the command of Cmdr. David Coe, is returning from the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility where the crew executed the Chief of Naval Operations’ Maritime Strategy in supporting national security interests and maritime security operations.
“My crew has done some incredible work these past months, defending the homeland and conducting other missions vital to national security,” said Coe. “I am immensely proud of each and every one of my Sailors, who have proven time and again their dedication and professionalism while operating forward at the tip of the spear. They have more than earned some time at home with family and friends. It’s great to be back in beautiful Guam, U.S.A.”
Key West conducted routine patrols throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific region and operated in conjunction with other Navy ships to conduct maritime security operations that promote stability and peace while developing key partnerships with allies across the region.
Key West conducted brief port visits in Yokosuka and Sasebo, Japan.
“It’s exciting visiting new places,” said Seaman Aron Nichols, who serves as a yeoman. “This is my first deployment and first time out of the United States. It was great trying sushi from Japan!”
The crew of Key West celebrated various achievements in professional development.
“Our crew has accomplished some incredible things this underway, both professionally and personally, and I couldn’t be more proud of them,” said Master Chief Petty Officer Eric Baker, Key West Chief of the Boat. “We had 12 Sailors become submarine qualified, 20 crew members frocked, three Chief Petty Officers pinned, and eight officers promoted.”
Key West was commissioned Sept. 12, 1987, and is the third ship of the U.S. Navy named for the city of Key West, Florida. Measuring more than 360 feet long and displacing more than 6,900 tons, Key West has a crew of approximately 140 Sailors. Key West is capable of supporting various missions, including anti-submarine warfare, anti-surface ship warfare, strike warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance.
Key West is a member of Commander, Submarine Squadron (COMSUBRON) 15, which is located at Polaris Point in Apra Harbor, Guam. COMSUBRON 15 staff is responsible for providing training, material and personnel readiness support of four Los Angeles-class attack submarines stationed in Guam. The submarines and submarine tenders USS Frank Cable (AS 40) and USS Emory S. Land (AS 39) are maintained as part of the U.S. Navy's forward-deployed submarine force and are readily capable of meeting global operational requirements.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

German-French Rivalry Led To Scorpene Submarine Data Leak: Report 

Staff, The Financial Express
21 October 2016 

The Scorpene submarine data leak to The Australian newspaper in August was allegedly carried out by sources linked to German defence firm ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS), French investigators have found. Reporting the findings, French newspaper Le Monde said the data leak was driven by a competition between TKMS and French firm DCNS. The two companies were competing for export of submarines to various countries.
DCNS CEO HervĂ© Guillou said that the Scorpion leak has not dented the confidence of India confidence in his company. “I went to the Indian authorities for reassurance. We formed a group working on the issue with them,” Guillou told Le Monde.
However, IE reported sources in the Indian defence ministry as saying that Manohar Parrikar, Union Defence Minister, did not meet Guillou or any other DCNS official in the last few weeks. The sources dismissed it as “a matter of corporate rivalry” and refused to comment further.
At a time when the French and German companies are competing to get the Project 75-I programme of the Indian Navy, the report on French investigations gains significance. As part of the Project 75-I, the contracted company would construct six submarines under ‘Make in India’ initiative of the Modi government.
The Australian had published online excerpts of 22,400 documents related to the Scorpene submarine being made under Project-75 at Mazagon Docks Limited in Mumbai on August 24.

New Nuclear Submarine Given Famous Naval Name

Staff, BBC News
21 October 2016

The first of four new UK submarines to carry Trident nuclear missiles will be named Dreadnought, a decision inspired by famous ships from the past.
The Ministry of Defence revealed the name, to coincide with Trafalgar Day, for the first vessel of the £31bn project to replace existing submarines.
The MoD said nine Navy vessels had previously been named Dreadnought.
Perhaps the most famous was HMS Dreadnought, commissioned in 1906, which transformed naval warfare.
The name became used at the time to describe a new era of warship design.
Other Dreadnoughts included one that sailed with Sir Francis Drake to battle the Spanish Armada in 1588, and another that was present with Vice-Admiral Horatio Nelson at the Battle of Trafalgar in 1805.
Britain's first nuclear-powered submarine, launched 56 years ago, also shared the name.
Critics of the project to renew the UK's Trident nuclear weapons system believe the enormous investment could be better spent elsewhere.
But Defence Secretary Michael Fallon said: "Every day our ballistic missile submarines are used to deter the most extreme threats to Britain's security.
"We cannot know what dangers we might face in the 2030s, 2040s and 2050s, so we are building the new Dreadnought class.
"Along with increasing the defence budget to buy new ships, more planes, and armoured vehicles, this commitment shows we will never gamble with our security."
Dreadnought will be the lead boat of the four new submarines, as well as the class name for the whole fleet.
The MoD, which received approval for the name from the Queen, said the next three boats would also be given names with "historical resonance".
But there are still groups fighting against the project who have said the bill will run much higher than predicted.
Dave Webb, chairman of the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament, said: "Replacing and running Trident is set to cost a staggering £205bn.
"The government dishonestly states Trident will cost between £31bn and £41bn, but that's only the cost of manufacturing four submarines.
"Hundreds of billions for a nuclear weapons system that does nothing to address the real and serious security threats we face - like terrorism and cyberwarfare - but not enough money for schools, hospitals, welfare and jobs. That just doesn't make sense to the majority of the population."

A Surface Vessel Just Commanded A Submarine To Launch An Aircraft—All Unmanned

The world’s first multi-domain autonomous, unmanned vehicle chain

Eric Tegler, ARS Technica
20 October 2016
The US Navy chain of command puts ships, submarines, and aircraft into type commands for operational purposes. Aircraft squadrons and air stations are under the administrative control of the appropriate Commander Naval Air Force. Submarines come under the Commander Submarine Force. All other ships fall under the Commander Naval Surface Force.
It has been that way for a long time, a neat arrangement of platforms and the people who populate them. But a Navy exercise in Rhode Island's Narragansett Bay in August may have upended the traditional chain of command.
The focus of the Annual Navy Technology Exercise (ANTX) was Lockheed Martin’s Vector Hawk UAV, a versatile, four-pound autonomous drone designed for short-range reconnaissance, early-warning, and intelligence-gathering missions. Vector Hawk looks like a pair of chevrons (wings) joined by a small fuselage, tipped with a propeller. It can be configured in the field as a conventional fixed-wing aircraft, a VTOL (vertical takeoff and landing) craft, or as a tilt-rotor, enabling VTOL with transition to fixed-wing flight.
Vector Hawk variants can be hand- or canister-launched from land or water, and they can be launched and flown autonomously. Vector Hawk’s canister launch (basically a tube) capability as highlighted during ANTX is significant because it extends small UAV capabilities—that land units have enjoyed for years—to tactical maritime users.
The exercise began with instructions issued from a ground control station to the Submaran, an unmanned surface vehicle (USV) developed by Ocean Aero. The USV relayed the instructions it received via an acoustic modem to a submerged autonomous underwater vehicle (AUV), Lockheed’s Marlin Mk.2, which carried Vector Hawk as it cruised below the surface of the Bay.
Upon receiving a command order from Submaran, the Marlin AUV transited to a launch site as instructed, where it then surfaced. Once above water, the Marlin acted on further instruction to ready a canister containing a Vector Hawk. The canister received a GPS position, which was passed to the UAV. Then the top of the canister opened and the Vector Hawk was ejected from the canister, unfolding its airfoils and flying away.
Vector Hawk then proceeded on a predetermined flight path, carrying a payload with a 10 megapixel electro-optical camera, a 640×480 long-wave infrared camera, and a laser illuminator. The Marlin re-submerged and the UAV undertook its ISR mission overhead, transmitting EO and IR video to Submaran, which relayed the images to the ground station. Submaran also provided surface reconnaissance and surveillance. All three autonomous vehicles communicated their operational status to the ground control station, allowing operators to maintain situational awareness and to command and control each asset.
"This was a significant milestone," says Doug Prince of Lockheed Martin business development, unmanned underwater vehicles. "It's the first time that a UAV has been launched from an Autonomous Unmanned Underwater Vehicle. This is the first time that three autonomous vehicles in three different domains [air, surface, and underwater] have worked together to execute a mission. This collaborative demonstration brings us another step forward to realizing a future where different unmanned systems work in cooperative operations to support first responders, military operations, and commercial users."
Despite its light weight, the battery-powered Vector Hawk can carry a variety of payloads and is able to fly for 70-plus minutes, at line-of-sight ranges up to 9 miles (15 kilometers). The launch mode, by hand or via canister, has no impact on its payload capacity according to Lockheed.
The little UAV features fully autonomous flight, landing, and fail-safe modes. The latter ensure it can safely return to the user or auto-land if it suffers a loss of communications with the ground control station or is forced into low-power mode. It can be recovered and relaunched in minutes (it lands conventionally and floats on water), including time needed to recharge its battery.
Vector Hawk’s size is a form of stealth as is its low noise signature, described by Lockheed as "inaudible at operational slant ranges." The UAV operates with a data link which features a high-bandwidth, software-defined radio, mesh networking (including 3G, 4G, and LTE cellular), over-the-air reconfiguration, and is capable of employing a variety of waveforms. Communication/data transfer between the UAV and USV is direct, using the high-bandwidth radio link.
Vector Hawk could communicate with Marlin in the same fashion if the sub is surfaced. Otherwise, its data is relayed indirectly to the AUV via the Submaran’s acoustic modem.
The combination of platforms and successful launch sequence, free of human intervention, was unprecedented—the world’s first multi-domain autonomous, unmanned vehicle chain. It’s a chain that raises chain-of-command questions.
Should each unmanned vehicle belong to a type command consistent with its domain? Or, given that a single manned platform like a ship could carry and deploy all three vehicles, should the vehicles be free agents, under the command of a fleet or shore command? At present, these unmanned platforms are posited as ISR tools, not active strike or defense platforms. But when they inevitably morph into weaponized craft further in the chain of command, questions will arise.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

India To Get Second Nuclear Submarine From Russia, Deal Struck In Goa: Sources

Staff, Times of India
19 October 2016

NEW DELHI – After protracted negotiations, Russia has agreed to lease a second nuclear submarine to India+ in a deal which will cost around $2 billion. Sources on Wednesday said the deal was struck during the meeting between Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Russian President Vladimir Putin on October 15 on the sidelines of the BRICS meet in Goa.
However, it was not part of the slew of announcements made after the talks. The Defence Ministry and the Navy did not offer any information on the subject since it was a strategic platform coming under direct purview of the Prime Minister's Office. Alexei Nikolski, a columnist with Russian daily Vedomosti, which broke the story, wrote, "According to a source in the Russian defence industry, the long-discussed lease to transfer a multipurpose Project 971 nuclear submarine to India from the Russian Navy was signed in Goa." The Akula 2 class submarine is expected to arrive in Indian waters in 2020-21. The Indian Navy already operates an Akula 2 class nuclear submarine, INS Chakra (formerly known as K-152
Nerpa), which was leased by Russia for 10 years and commissioned on April 4, 2012 after India paid for its completion of its construction and sea-trials. India had been keen to lease a second nuclear submarine. Indian defence sources had said that Russia had linked the lease of the nuclear submarine to the agreement for four stealth frigates. In Goa, India and Russia announced an over USD 3 billion frigate deal.
Under the agreement, two stealth frigates will be built in Russia while the other two would be built in India under license production. The Akula 2 class submarine, though not the latest class of nuclear-powered fast-attack submarines in the world, is still considered one of the most advanced. Capable of sailing at speeds up to 35 knots (nearly 65 km per hour) under water, it is among the quietest Russian submarines

Plymouth Sailors Honour WW1 Hero Who Blew Up His Own Submarine To Cut Off German U-Boats

Gayle Herald, Plymouth Herald
17 October 2016

Sailors from a Plymouth-based submarine have paid tribute to a First World War hero who blew up his own submarine to cut off German U-boats.
Sailors from the Royal Navy's HMS Trenchant have honoured the memory of Lieutenant Richard Sandford, who was awarded the military's ultimate mark of courage - the Victoria Cross.
A team of submariners helped unveil a blue plaque to honour Lt Sandford, who became a hero of the First World War Zeebrugge Raid.
The plaque, marking Lt Sandford's birth place, in Cathedral Close, Exeter, was unveiled by the sailors from the Devonport-based boat who also provided the honour guard for the event.
They were joined by their commanding officer Commander Rob Watts.
Commander Watts said: "It is very important to remember our fellow submarine brothers-in-arms, particularly those who paid the ultimate sacrifice and whom were awarded the highest honour.
"I am very proud that HMS Trenchant provided a suitable guard to mark this important occasion of our submarine heritage."
The Zeebrugge Raid in Belgium was a daring plan by the Royal Navy to blockade the Imperial German Navy and prevent them sailing their highly effective U-Boat submarines from port.
Lt Sandford was 26 when he commanded the submarine, HMS C3, and used it effectively as an explosive device to help prevent them sailing and sinking allied shipping.
In April 1918 at Zeebrugge he sailed with a crew of only six sailors on board.
He skilfully placed his vessel under a viaduct which connected the submarine berths to the land and helped supply them.
He then laid his fuse, abandoned his submarine and successfully destroyed the viaduct, cutting off a vital supply line to the submarine garrison.
Lt Sandford died of typhoid fever at a hospital in North Yorkshire, 12 days after the Armistice agreement was signed.
HMS Trenchant is one of four Trafalgar Class submarines in service with the Royal Navy and is approaching the end of a three-year maintenance package.
She will be ready to deploy on operations armed with Spearfish torpedoes and the latest Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles with strike ranges well in excess of 1,000 miles in-land.
She has state-of-the-art satellite communication technology and is capable of operating alone or in support of other units in a task force.

No Air Independent Propulsion For Scorpene Submarines 

Staff, NDTV
18 October 2016

NEW DELHI – In a setback, the last two of the six Scorpene submarines will not be fitted with Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) system, which allows the vessel to stay underwater for a longer duration.
The reason is that DRDO, which is manufacturing the system, has missed the deadline.
"We are not looking at 5 and 6. In case we have to do it, we will do it as a retrofit," Vice Admiral GS Pabby, Controller of Warship Production and Acquisition, Indian Navy, said.
Sources said the AIP system could have been integrated into the last two of the six submarines if it was ready by the end of 2015.
However, the work on the system is going on. Kalvari, Indian Navy's first indigenous Scorpene-class stealth submarine, is scheduled to be inducted by the end of the year.
The 66-metre-long INS Kalvari is part of a USD 3.5 billion contract signed by the Defence Ministry with French firm DCNS in October 2005 to jointly develop six submarines.
Under Project 75, the submarines are being built at the MDL dockyard in Mumbai under license from DCNS.
While the first four are conventional submarines, the last two are to be equipped with AIP, which will enable the vessel stay underwater for longer.
Interestingly, the submarines still do not have its main weapon -- the heavyweight torpedos.  The original torpedo selected for the submarine was the one manufactured by one of the subsidiaries of scam-tainted firm Finmeccanica.
The government has decided to withdraw the tender for the heavyweight torpedos and go for an alternative.
Once INS Kalvari is handed over to the Navy, the plan is to have other five inducted every nine months.
Construction of the first submarine started on May 23, 2009. The project is running four years behind schedule.
The government plans to go for a follow-on order of three more Scorpene class submarines.

China's First Nuclear-Powered Submarine Decommissioned

Gabriel Dominguez, IHS Jane's
18 October 2016

China's first nuclear-powered submarine has been decommissioned after more than 40 years of service, Xinhua news agency quoted naval authorities as saying on 16 October.
Following a denuclearisation process the submarine was towed to a wharf belonging to the Qingdao Naval Museum, where it will become a public exhibit.
China's People's Liberation Navy (PLAN) has at least 10 nuclear-powered submarines remaining in service, according to IHS Jane's Fighting Ships .
The decommissioned boat is likely to have been one of the PLAN's three Han-class attack submarines, which are likely to be retired by the end of this decade.

Collins Class Submarine HMAS Dechaineux Cruises Into Hobart

 Alex Luttrell, Mercury
19 October 2016

An Australian submarine named after a Tasmanian naval captain will dock in Hobart today.
HMAS Dechaineux is due to arrive about 6pm, pulling up alongside Princes Wharf as part of a port visit during an east Australian deployment.
The vessel is named after Captain Emile Dechaineux, the Commanding Officer of HMAS Australia (II) during the latter stages of World War II.
Capt Dechaineux was born and raised in Tasmania.
The 77m-long Collins Class submarine was commissioned in February 2001.
It is a guided missile submarine with a diesel electric motor capable of reaching 20 knots underwater.
Since commissioning, Dechaineux has successfully conducted a range of activities throughout the region in support of Defence Force exercises, operations and the Federal Government’s strategic directives.
Collins Class submarines such as Dechaineux offer stealth, long-range endurance, formidable striking power and advanced intelligence collection capabilities.
The submarine’s home port is HMAS Stirling in Western Australia.
The vessel is due to depart Hobart early on Sunday.

Monday, October 17, 2016

Russia’s Pacific Fleet: Nuclear Sub Test Fires Intercontinental Ballistic Missile

The missile is believed to have a range of more than 4,000 miles.

Franz-Stefan Gady, The Diplomat
14 October 2016

The recent missile drill follows the test firing of two ICBMs by another sub of Russia’s Pacific Fleet in September.
The nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) Georgy Pobedonosets successfully test fired a submarine-launched intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) from a submerged position in the Sea of Okhotsk, Russia’s Ministry of Defense announced on October 12.
“The launch was carried out from the submerged position. The missile’s warhead arrived at the Chizha practice range in north Russia at the designated time,” the defense ministry stated without specifying the exact date of the missile drill.
The defense ministry also did not specify the type of ICBM test fired. The 13,000-ton (submerged) Georgy Pobedonosets is a Soviet-era Project 667BDR Kal’mar (Squid) Delta-III class SSBN. It was first commissioned in 1981 into Russia’s Northern Fleet and transferred to the Pacific Fleet over three decades ago in 1983. It underwent a major overhaul for over a decade from 1993 to 2003.
Project 667BDR Delta-III ballistic missile submarines are armed with the R-29R/R-2S (NATO reporting name:  SS-N-18 Stingray) intercontinental ballistic missile equipped with three to seven multiple independently targetable reentry vehicles (MIRVs). The missile has an estimated range of 6,500 to 8,000 kilometers (4,038-4,970 miles).
The Georgy Pobedonosets reportedly can carry up to 16 R-29R ICBMs and, given that the sub is equipped with the so-called D-9R launch system, can fire any number of
missiles in a single salvo. It is likely that that the sub fired a R-29R ICBM during its most recent missile drill. Delta-III subs are also fitted with four 533-milimeter and two 400-milimeter bow torpedo tubes.
The most recent successful test launch illustrates “the high level of the Pacific Fleet submarine forces’ readiness and confirmed the efficiency of the system of the sea-based strategic nuclear forces’ combat control,” the defense ministry noted, according to TASS news agency.
“The actions of the commander and the crew of the nuclear submarine Georgy Pobedonosets have been recognized as professional and competent. The crew is ready to accomplish tasks as part of the constant alert forces,” the ministry added.
The Georgy Pobedonosets along with the remaining two Delta-III class subs will slowly be phased out in the years ahead and replaced by the Project 955 Borei-class (“North Wind”) aka Dolgoruky-class of SSBNs. One Delta-III class submarine is reportedly undergoing overhaul while two were thought to be currently held in reserve. The recent test appears to confirm other sources that state that both Delta-III class SSBNs are fully operational.
The last time a Pacific Fleet SSBN conducted an ICBM test launch occurred on September 27, when the Project 955 Borei-class Yuri Dolgoruky test fired two Bulava (RSM-56) ICBMs from a submerged position in the White Sea off the northwest coast of Russia.

U.S. OKs sale of MK-48 torpedoes to Taiwan amid Chinese naval growth

Staff, Strategy Page
14 October 2016 

After several years of debate and other delays the United States has approved the sale of MK-48 torpedoes to Taiwan. These will cost nearly four million dollars each and are intended for use against Chinese ships. This sale and growing nervousness about the expanding capabilities of the Chinese Navy led to a change of attitude in the United States and the West in general. That means Taiwan will also obtain the needed cooperation for expanding its submarine force by moving forward with their IDS (Indigenous Defense Submarine) program. That means building the subs in Taiwan, with a lot of foreign parts and technical advice. The first of these IDS subs won’t enter service until 2026. 
Technically these Mk-48s are for Taiwan’s only two modern subs; a pair of Hailung class boats built for Taiwan in Holland and operational since the late 1980s. These 2,500 ton boats are armed with twenty torpedoes and Harpoon missiles (launched from the torpedo tubes.) These two boats are undergoing an upgrade and refurbishment that won’t be done until 2020 but will enable these two subs to remain in service for another 15 year. These two subs are being upgraded to handle the Mk-48 and new versions of the submarine launched Harpoon anti-ship missiles. . 
Taiwan currently has four submarines. Two are World War II era American Guppy class subs that have been in service since 1945. These are used only for training and are increasingly difficult and expensive to maintain. Despite that the crews work hard to keep these museum pieces looking good and still useful. 
Until 2016 Taiwan was having a hard time getting the United States or anyone else help them with IDS. None of the European shipyards that specialize in this sort of thing would help as they feared economic retaliation from China. The United States had not built a diesel electric sub since the 1950s. But since 2011 Taiwan did compile a lot of useful information on costs and the more reliable (resistant to Chinese threats) suppliers. These suppliers are now a lot less reluctant. It also turned out that a lot of American manufacturers could produce components for diesel electric subs even though most of their regular work is for nuclear boats. But aside from the nuclear propulsion, a sub is a sub and the American were willing to supply Taiwan. 
Taiwan wanted eight new diesel-electric boats, preferably with AIP (air independent propulsion). This would drive the price up to nearly a billion dollars a boat. Building them in Taiwan can also be done more quickly with assistance from other nations threatened by Chinese naval power. India, Japan and South Korea all build subs and have local suppliers willing to provide Taiwan with components and technical assistance. While European firms won't sell Taiwan submarines they are apparently less reluctant to quietly sell components and training.
The MK-48 entered service in 1971 as the Mod 1 and has been continually upgraded since then. TheMK-48 is a 533mm (21 inch), 1.7 ton weapon with a range of up to 74 kilometers (at 50 kilometers an hour) and a top speed of 102 kilometers an hour (at a range of 38 kilometers). The MK-48 can be controlled from the sub via wire guidance and has onboard sonar to assist in finding targets and avoiding underwater obstacles. There are numerous electronic devices on board to get around countermeasures. The MK-48 has a 295 kg (650 pound) warhead and uses a proximity fuze. Maximum depth is about 800 meters. The MK-48 is already used by the U.S. Navy as well as Brazil, Australia, Canada and the Netherlands.

Navy Plans Stealthier Attack Submarines, Citing Breakthrough Acoustic Technology

Kris Osborn, Scout
13 October 2016

New quieting technologies could help US submarine operate in or near enemy territory without being detected; this will enable US subs to detect and destroy enemy submarines, ships and incoming weapons at much farther distances.
Navy leaders say the service is making progress developing new acoustics, sensors and quieting technologies to ensure the U.S. retains its technological edge in the undersea domain – as countries like China and Russia continue rapid military modernization and construction of new submarines.
The innovations, many details of which are secret and not available, include quieting technologies for the engine room to make the submarine harder to detect, a new large vertical array and additional coating materials for the hull, Navy officials explained.
“We are talking about changes in sensors and changes in the capabilities aboard the ship that we think could be very dramatic in terms of improving our ability to compete in our acoustic spectrum,” Rear Adm. Charles Richard, Director of Undersea Warfare, told Scout Warrior in a special interview. 
Richard told Scout Warrior that the impetus for the Navy effort, called “acoustic superiority,” is specifically grounded in the emerging reality that the U.S. undersea margin of technological superiority is rapidly diminishing in light of Russian and Chinse advances.
The idea with “acoustic superiority,” is therefore to engineer a circumstance wherein U.S. submarines can operate undetected in or near enemy waters or coastline, conduct reconnaissance or attack missions and sense any movement or enemy activities at farther ranges than adversaries can. 
Acoustic sensor technology works by using underwater submarine sensors to detect sound “pings” in order to determine the contours, speed and range of an enemy ship, submarine or approaching weapon. Much like radar analyzes the return electromagnetic signal bounced off an
object, acoustics works by using “sound” in a similar fashion. Most of the undersea acoustic technology is “passive,” meaning it is engineered to receive pings and “listen” without sending out a signal which might reveal their undersea presence or location to an enemy, Richard explained.
Testing of these innovations is now underway on board an experimental prototype version of a Virginia-Class attack submarine called the USS South Dakota.
Described as a technology insertion, the improvements will eventually be integrated on board both Virginia-Class submarines and the now-in -development next-generation nuclear-armed boats called the Ohio Replacement Program.
“The testing going on with the acoustic superiority program is more on the sensor side of the house. We see ourselves on the cusp of a fourth generation of undersea communications,” Richard added.
The concept with a fourth generation of undersea technology is based upon a “domain” perspective as opposed to a platform approach – looking at and assessing advancements in the electro-magnetic and acoustic underwater technologies, Richard explained.
“In this fourth generation, acoustic stealth will always be required - get into a hostile environment. If I am noisy, I am not going to live very long. We are constantly pushing the boundary of how to minimize our own signature - while having a better ability to detect an adversary signature,” Richard told Scout Warrior.
Richard articulated the first two generations as the advent of the first operational submarine fleets during WWII and the subsequent advent of undersea nuclear weapons during the Cold War.
“WWII was our first time to field a fleet scale capability that was effective in a war. It actually helped us win,” he said.
The new “acoustic superiority” effort is immersed in performing tactical assessments as well as due diligence from an academic standpoint to make sure the service looks at all the threat vectors – whether that be hydrodynamics, acoustics, lasers, among others.
The emerging technologies, however, are heavily focused upon sensitive, passive acoustic sensors able to detect movement and objects of potential adversary boats and ships at much further ranges and with a higher-degree of fidelity. While high-frequency, fast two-way communication is currently difficult to sustain from the undersea domain, submarines are able to use a Very Low Frequency radio to communicate while at various depths beneath the surface.
“Low frequency radio signals allow for slower communication. Water is opaque and it is also opaque to radio energy. We have the ability to use certain radio frequencies that do penetrate in the water but they tend to limit you in data rate and receive only. It’s very reliable and it well understood. Ballistic missile submarines are in constant communication,” Richard added.
The South Dakota is slated deliver in the next few years, Navy officials said.
Study: US Undersea Technological Dominance in Jeopardy 
Senior Navy officials have explained that the innovations contained in the USS South Dakota do, at least in part, help address an issue raised by a report by the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. 
The report, titled “The Emerging Era in Undersea Warfare,” says the technological margin of difference separating the U.S from potential rivals is expected to get much smaller. This is requiring the U.S. to re-think the role of manned submarines and prioritize innovation in the realm of undersea warfare, the study says.
“America’s superiority in undersea warfare results from decades of research and development, operations, and training. It is, however, far from assured. U.S. submarines are the world’s quietest, but new detection techniques are emerging that don’t rely on the noise a submarine makes, and may make traditional manned submarine operations far more risky in the future. America’s competitors are likely pursuing these technologies even while expanding their own undersea forces,” writes the report’s author Bryan Clark.
In the report, Clark details some increasingly available technologies expected to change the equation regarding U.S. undersea technological supremacy. They include increased use of lower frequency active sonar and non-acoustic methods of detecting submarine wakes at short ranges. In particular, Clark cites a technique of bouncing laser light or light-emitting-diodes off of a submarine hull to detect its presence.
“The physics behind most of these alternative techniques has been known for decades, but was not exploited because computer processors were too slow to run the detailed models needed to see small changes in the environment caused by a quiet submarine. Today, ‘big dat’” processing enables advanced navies to run sophisticated oceanographic models in real time to exploit these detection techniques,” Clark writes.
Chinese Submarine Threat
When asked about the pace of Chinese undersea military construction and modernization, Richard explained that the Navy is focused on sustaining the research and development, or R&D, sufficient to ensure the U.S. retains its technological superiority.
Richard added that the submarine fleet, and strategic nuclear deterrence in particular, is all the more pressing and significant now that China has operational nuclear-armed JL-2 missiles able to hit part of the United States.
A recent Congressional report states that Chinese modernization plans call for a sharp increase in attack submarines and nuclear-armed submarines or SSBNs. Chinese SSBNs are now able to patrol with nuclear-armed JL-2 missiles able to strike targets more than 4,500 nautical miles.
The Chinese are currently working on a new, modernized SSBN platform as well as a long-range missile, the JL-3, Congressional information says.

U.S. Fleet Forces Commander: Adversaries Challenging U.S. Maritime Dominance

Yasmin Tadjdeh, National Defense
13 October 2016
PORTSMOUTH, Va. — Adversaries such as Russia and China are increasingly challenging the United States’ dominance of the seas, said the commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command Oct. 12.
Rivals are attempting to “deny our sea control and that is a big change,” said Adm. Philip Davidson.
Sea access denial is part of three operational threat paradigms that the two nations are trying to exploit, he said during the National Defense Industrial Association’s annual Expeditionary Warfare Conference. NDIA is the publisher of National Defense magazine.
“That is an area when I compare and contrast where we are today and where we were 15 years ago where we took a lot of risk,” he said. “We took that risk over the last 15 years … in order to build cyber forces, in order to build COIN [counterinsurgency] forces, in order to put blue in support of green on battlefields in Afghanistan and Iraq and across North Africa. We let some of the sea control capability die,” he added.
The second operational threat is nuclear weapon proliferation, he said. Both Russia and China are building new ballistic missile submarines and testing them.
“This environment has really changed over the last few years,” he said. “For the first time in any of your lives … somebody other than the Soviet Union/Russia can threaten the United States with a nuclear weapon from the sea.” North Korea is also developing more powerful and small nuclear weapons, he noted.
The third threat area is the rise of the information domain, he said. Both state and non-state actors are exploiting networks and gaining access to them.
These operational threats come as a time when the United States faces challenges from a variety of actors, he said. In what has become known as the four-plus-one threat environment, the country’s adversaries include Russia, China, Iran, North Korea and terrorist organizations such as the Islamic State.
To get at the issue, the Navy is employing a four-pillar strategy. The first includes increasing the service’s situational awareness through the Naval Integrated Fire Control-Counter Air concept, which the service has been using for a couple of years, he said.
Through NIFC-CA “we are extending the sensor range of our assets and we’re extending the … reach of the weapons,” he said. The architecture is used as a way to share fire control information throughout the fleet quickly, he said.
“It’s shaping our thinking about how this fleet will operate going forward,” he said.
The service is also putting a premium on modularity and flexibility throughout the fleet, he said. For example, the configuration of a carrier air group will need to be adjustable going forward.
“We can make that air wing whatever it is we want,” he said. “It’s shape and form today is to handle the pressures that are over there in the Middle East. The shape and form that we plan for in the years coming forward is different.”
Underwater vehicles and sensors will also be important in the future, he said. “If you can connect undersea [assets] to a network … you can solve a lot of problems. Now trust me that, that’s not a panacea” but it helps.
The service also took some risk when it came to training sailors and the Navy can no longer afford to do so again, he said. The service plans to take advantage of live, virtual and constructive training, he said.

Spain Reveals New Delivery Schedule For S 80 Submarines

David Ing, HIS Jane’s 360
14 October 2016

Spain's revised schedule for the delivery of its S 80 submarines will see the lead boat delivered in 2021.  The remaining three boats will all be delivered by 2026.  A new delivery schedule for Spain's long-delayed S 80 submarine programme has been drawn up by the Ministry of Defence (MoD), after former admiral of the fleet Francisco Javier Franco Suanzes confirmed that the handover of the lead boat is now due for the end of 2021.
Delivery of the four boats in the class is now scheduled to run until 2026. The provisional calendar set by state-owned shipbuilder Navantia is scheduled to see lead boat S 81 delivered in 2021, S 82 in the second half of 2023, S 83 at the end of 2024, and S 84 in the second half of 2026, the MoD told IHS Jane's on 14 October.

Poland Likely to Award Sub Deal to Saab

Jaroslaw Adamowski, Defense News
14 October 2016 

WARSAW, Poland — In the aftermath of the spat between Poland and France over Warsaw’s decision to cancel the Caracal helicopter deal with Airbus Helicopters, the Polish Defence Ministry is most likely to purchase three A26-class submarines from Sweden’s Saab.  France’s DCNS, which pitched its Scorpene-class sub, is no longer considered as the forerunner in Poland’s sub procurement, Defence Ministry sources told pro-government daily Nasz Dziennik. Germany’s ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, which offers its HDW-class sub, is also regarded as having low chances of securing the contract. The deal is estimated to be worth up to 10 billion zloty (US $2.6 billion).  Earlier this month, Poland’s Ministry of Economic Development decided to end its negotiations with Airbus Helicopters, whose Caracal was chosen by the previous government under its transport helo procurement. Since then, relations between Poland and France have remained stringent. 
Following Warsaw’s decision, French President Francois Hollande decided to cancel his official visit to Poland, which was scheduled for Oct. 13, and Paris withdrew an invitation to a delegation of Polish officials for the forthcoming Euronaval trade show.  In response, Polish Defence Minister Bartosz Kownacki said in a televised interview that while there was no diplomatic war between the two countries, the French “learned to eat with a fork from us several centuries ago, so perhaps this is their way of behaving”.  Under its Orka (or Orca) program, the Polish Defence Ministry is aiming to replace the Navy’s outdated Kobben-class subs, which are to be decommissioned by 2021.

Pakistan To Get Eight Stealth Attack Submarines From China

Khawaja Daud, Daily Pakistan
16 October 2016

BEIJING/KARACHI – China will export eight stealth attack submarines to Pakistan, as part of a deal signed earlier this year, according to People’s Daily. In a conference to discuss the details of the arrangement, the China Shipbuilding Industry Corporation has confirmed the project. The corporation’s chairman, Hu Wenming, said the conference aimed to continue the spirit
generated by Chinese President Xi Jinping’s speeches on the Belt & Road Construction Work Symposium. China is to provide the Pakistan Navy with eight modified diesel-electric attack submarines by 2028. In April, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif approved the deal and called the deal could be “one of China’s largest overseas weapons sales once it is signed”.

The deal could cost between 4 billion to 5 billion USD, the Financial Times reported. Four of the eight submarines will reportedly be built at Karachi Shipyard & Engineering Works (KSEW) while the remaining four submarines will be built in China. The majority of analysts speculate that the new submarine will be a lighter export version of the People Liberation Army Navy (PLAN)’s Type 039 and Type 041 Yuan-class conventional attack submarine, excluding the sub’s AIP system, which might be procured independently. According to IHS Jane’s Fighting Ships, the Type 041 Yuan-class is “a diesel electric attack submarine (SSK), potentially with Stirling air-independent propulsion, that is armed with YJ-2 (YJ-82) anti-ship missiles and a combination of Yu-4 (SAET-50) passive homing and Yu-3 (SET-65E) active/passive homing torpedoes.”
It purportedly is one of the quietest subs in the PLAN’s inventory. The scaled-down 2,300-ton export version is designated S20. The first four submarines are expected to be delivered by the end of 2023; the remaining four will be assembled in Karachi by 2028. The new subs are expected to form the sea-based arm of Pakistan’s nuclear second-strike triad. The Pakistan Navy is in middle of upgrading its undersea warfare capabilities. In June, Turkish state-owned defense contractor STM won a contract for the mid-life upgrade of three Agosta 90B-class (aka Khalid-class) dieselelectric attack submarines equipped with air-independent propulsion systems

Unmanned Sea And Air Vehicles Collaborate in International Exercise

Marc Sellinger, Defense Daily
14 October 2016 

The Unmanned Warrior exercise taking place this month off the coast of western Scotland has demonstrated the ability of unmanned vehicles in three domains and from multiple nations to collaborate, U.S. Navy participants said Oct. 14. As many as 10 unmanned underwater vehicles (UUVs) from Australia, Canada, the United States and the United Kingdom have operated together, tasking each other to conduct surveillance of targets of interest, said Marcus Tepaske, global science adviser at the U.S. Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the U.S. technical lead for the first-ever Unmanned Warrior.  A United Kingdom Royal Navy team lowers an Iver unmanned underwater vehicle into the water pier side during the first-ever Unmanned Warrior exercise (U.S. Navy photo by John F. Williams) “It’s really groundbreaking,” Tepaske told reporters. “It seems like every day they’re adding another system in there, so every day it’s a world first.” Besides working with each other, UUVs have used unmanned surface vessels (USVs) to send communications to unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs). The UAVs, in turn, have relayed that information to commanders and operators ashore. UAVs also have transferred data to UUVs that rose close to the surface. Participating vehicles include Hydroid Remus 100 UUVs, OceanServer IVER UUVs, a SeaRobotics USV-2600, an ASV C-Worker USV, a Blue Bear Blackstart UAV and a Pulse Aerospace Vapor 55 UAV.

Also during the exercise, underwater gliders have conducted ocean surveillance, UUVs have performed mine hunting, and underwater sensors have detected UUVs for potential port security applications. ONR is trying out its Waterside Rapid Deployment Security System, which uses a mix of sonar, radar and cameras to identify and track UUVs, swimmers and other potential surface and subsurface threats.
Dozens of unmanned vehicles, sensors and systems are taking part in Unmanned Warrior, which is sponsored by the U.K.’s Royal Navy. “This is a giant step toward defining the future of naval warfighting,” said Capt. Beth Creighton, the U.S. Navy lead for the exercise.

The Navy Is Researching "Acoustic Superiority" to Keep Its Submarines Alive

Kyle Mizokami, Popular Mechanics
14 October 2016 

The U.S. Navy is beginning a top-to-bottom review of its underwater operations to make sure subs are quiet as possible. According to Scout Warrior, the Navy is also starting up a parallel effort to make its sensors more capable of detecting the quietest enemy submarines. It's all part of drive to maintain the edge in submarine technology in the face of strong Russian and Chinese competition. In the world of submarines, noise kills. A noisy submarine plowing though the oceans will be quickly detected and killed by its opponents. Right now, the United States enjoys a technology advantage in quiet submarines, particularly its Virginia-class nuclear attack submarines. But Russian submarine designers, after a nearly quarter century hiatus, are back to their drawing boards. Chinese submarines are growing increasingly sophisticated, too. The quest to make American submarines quieter, like much submarine tech, is highly classified. Some obvious solutions the Navy must be considering, though, are things such as isolating the engine from the hull as much as possible to prevent vibrations from escaping from the submarine. Others include improving anechoic tiling, which provides a layer of sound-deadening rubber tiles on the submarine's hull.
As far as improving a submarine's sensors so it can detect an enemy first, most of this work is concentrated on so-called "passive" sensors. While sonar is very useful for locating the enemy, it also reveals the location of the submarine using it. Passive sensors are used to not only detect enemy sonar, but now to detect the sound of enemy submarines moving through water. The goal is to gather as much detail as possible, including the sub's depth, speed and bearing, and even its type. Finally, the Navy is working towards a fourthgeneration of submarine communications. A submarine that is totally silent isn't very useful if it can't share information and receive orders. The catch, of course, is to design a means of communications that can't be detected by the enemy. The Navy plans to roll out what it learns on future submarines, including future versions of the Virginia-class submarine and the upcoming Columbia-class ballistic missile submarines, currently under development.

Friday, October 14, 2016

Would Russia or the US win a World War? Defence experts give verdict on their arsenals

Tom Batchelor, Express
 11 October 2016

SENIOR US defense experts have warned that relations between Moscow and Washington have reached a low "not seen since the darkest days of the Cold War".
But it is still not clear which military superpower possesses the most fearsome armed forces.
So analysts at the Centre for National Interest - a Washington-based think tank - have predicted exactly what weapons would be used if the historic foes ever went to war - and which would be most effective.
They spell out the likelihood that "an accidental collision could spark a diplomatic crisis, a crisis that could lead to a place no one wants to go: some sort of open conflict".
But they also concede that it is "very unlikely" that the US will ever directly face off against Russia as a war would "almost certain end poorly for all concerned".
However, the experts say that modern Russia has a "formidable arsenal of both strategic and tactical nuclear weapons" and that the threat posed by Moscow cannot be downplayed.
Among the five most potent weapons at Vladimir Putin's disposal is the Sukhoi Su-35 fighter jet, which the think tank says has "high altitude capability and blistering speed".
Russia also boasts the Amur-class submarine, which CNI says "are extremely quiet and pose an extremely dangerous threat to surface warships".
The T-90 tank is also noted for its low cost compared with Western equivalent.
The armored vehicle has "explosive reactive armor" and Russia has built around a thousand of them to date.
The P-800 supersonic anti-ship missile and Type 53-65 wake-homing torpedo are also singled out as particularly versatile weapons.
The US authors note: "The near Mach 3 capable missile can also be used against land targets.
"It has a range of about 300 km (or roughly 186 miles)—which means it far out-ranges the US Navy Harpoon anti-ship missile."
They add: "While anti-ship missiles get a lot of attention, submarine launched torpedoes are arguably a much more dangerous threat to US Navy surface warships.
"Perhaps the most dangerous torpedoes that the Navy might encounter are high-performance Russian-made wake homing torpedoes."
However, the US vastly outspends Russia on defence and has an arsenal of advanced weapons and vehicles to show for it.
The CNI experts pick out Ohio-Class Ballistic Missile Submarines - which carry the Trident missiles - as at "the core" of America's strategic nuclear deterrent.
Described as "essential", the B-2 stealth bomber also makes the cut, as the defence analysts say it would "almost certainly be an integral plan of any war between Russia and the United States".
F-22 Raptor fighter jets would "alone be on the front lines of any US-Russian war", CNI explains, making the warplane a vital component of the US arsenal.
America's missile defence system is also a crucial piece in the jigsaw as it offers protection both to the US and its strategic partners across the world, from Europe to South Korea.
Last on the CNI's list of top US components is its allies.
The military experts write that, "while not a 'weapon' in the traditional sense, the US global alliance network would greatly enhance America's ability to wage war against Russia".
The US is a member of NATO and also has allies across the Americas, Asia and Europe.
Russia has attempted to court new allies in the form of Syria and other players on the fringes of the international community, but its network of influence is far smaller than that of the US.

The War to Build America's New Nuclear Missile Is Just Getting Started 

Dave Majumdar, National Interest
11 October 2016 

  Defense contractors are starting to submit their bids to build a new replacement intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) to replace the long-serving Minuteman III under a program called the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD). The U.S. Air Force had released a request for proposals to replace its 1960s-era ICBMs earlier in July. But the program won’t be cheap.
Nonetheless, there is no question that the United States will need to replace the Minuteman III. “If we don't replace these systems, quite simply they will age even more and become unsafe, unreliable and ineffective,” Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the troops at Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota on Sept. 26. “The fact is, most of our nuclear weapon delivery systems have already been extended decades beyond their original expected service lives. So it's not a choice between replacing these platforms or keeping, it's really a choice between replacing them or losing them. That would mean losing confidence in our ability to deter, which we can't afford in today's volatile security environment.”
For defense contractors, the GBSD program could be a lucrative contract worth tens of billions of dollars. Earlier today, Boeing—which originally built the Minuteman ICBM—submitted its bid to build its replacement.
“The Boeing Company responded today to the U.S. Air Force solicitation for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD) Technology Maturation & Risk Reduction (TMRR) contract, to partner with the U.S. Air Force to provide a safe, secure and effective intercontinental ballistic
missile (ICBM) system to deter emerging, modern nuclear threats,” reads an Oct. 11 statement from Boeing. “Boeing’s expertise in ICBM design, development and production has influenced a GBSD concept that is readily capable and affordable. Boeing created the Minuteman ICBM in 1958, and we are ready to again offer an ICBM that will meet the Air Force mission requirements through 2075.”
Northrop Grumman is also bidding on the GBSD program. Indeed, TRW–one of the companies that is now part of Northrop—was integral to the Minuteman project during its inception in 1954. Defense goliath Lockheed Martin is also known to be interested in the GBSD contract.
The Air Force estimates that the program will cost $62 billion, but the Pentagon’s Cost Assessment and Program Evaluation office pegs the price tag much higher—roughly $85 billion. That’s on top of the cost of recapitalizing the U.S. strategic bomber fleet and its associated nuclear-tipped cruise missiles. The Pentagon hopes to buy 642 GBSD missiles for roughly $66.4 million each to support a deployed force of 400 weapons and to budget at least $1.25 billion annually from 2036 to 2040 according to Pentagon procurement czar Frank Kendall as cited by Bloomberg.
The Air Force is struggling with the price tag for the Northrop Grumman B-21 Raider strategic bomber and the Long Range Standoff (LRSO) nuclear-tipped cruise missile. The Air Force has been asking the Congress to move the two programs into a strategic deterrence fund alongside with the U.S. Navy’s Columbia-class Ohio Replacement Program (ORP) ballistic missile submarines because the programs are crucial to recapitalizing America’s strategic nuclear deterrent for the future. “If [there] is a strategic deterrence fund that would help or benefit one leg of the triad, I would ask for consideration that all legs of the triad be included in such an approach,” Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James told the Congress on March 16.
Costly as maintaining the nuclear triad is, it is burden America must continue to bear with continued the threat from Russia and a fast rising China. The United States expects to maintain a strategic nuclear deterrence force of some 400 deployed ICBMs, 60 nuclear-capable strategic bombers and 240 submarine-launched ballistic missiles for total of 700 launch vehicles under the New START Treaty with Russia.
The treaty goes into effect on February 5, 2018, but nuclear weapons will continue to be the cornerstone of American security. “This is about maintaining the bedrock of our security and after too many years of not investing enough, it's an investment that we, as a nation, have to make because it's critical to sustaining nuclear deterrence in the 21st century,” Carter said.

Navy considers continuing production of Virginia-class in lieu of SSN(X)

Lee Hudson, Inside Defense
11 October 2016

The Navy is considering whether to continue serial production of the Virginia-class submarine instead of designing an attack submarine replacement, according to a service official.
Capt. Michael Stevens, Virginia-class program manager, said Sept. 29 during an industry luncheon in Washington that the Navy may decide to not design an attack submarine replacement and instead purchase additional Virginia-class submarines. The Navy's program of record for Virginia-class subs includes procuring 48 boats.
"There could be a Block VIII, we may not see a game changer that justifies a new SSN," Stevens continued.
ITN reported in October 2014 the Navy chartered a small team to propose a five-year plan for SSN(X) or the new attack submarine program, which will come online in 2034 in lieu of Block VIII of the Virginia-class submarine.
Vice Adm. David Johnson, who was program executive officer for submarines, said in October 2014 an analysis of alternatives will begin for SSN(X) in 2024.
"2034 may seem far off but the design and research community needs to take action now," Johnson said. "We need to estimate the environment the SSN(X) is going to live in out in the 2050 time frame."
Johnson said it is important to determine what technologies will be necessary to counter the future threat. His team will have nine years to identify, develop and demonstrate any significant long lead technologies, he added.
"We're going to start concept studies to explore capability cost and tech trade space, identify potential candidate technologies in the S&T community early enough to sufficiently mature," he said.
SSN(X) will emphasize integration and interoperability especially with off board systems. The next-generation attack submarine will also take into account cybersecurity, Johnson said.
Meanwhile, the service is preparing to purchase materiel for the Virginia Payload Module and will soon begin negotiations with industry for an advance procurement contract this fiscal year, according to a service official.
Stevens said FY-17 kicks off a two-year advance procurement contract for Block V. Block V spans ships built in FY-19 through FY-23 with the first boat on patrol in FY-27.
Block V includes the final major design change for the Virginia-class attack submarine with the introduction of the Virginia Payload Module, Stevens said.
"Advance Procurement (AP) funding can be awarded in Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 under a Continuing Resolution as the requested amount is less than the FY-16 appropriated amount and not a new start," Naval Sea Systems Command spokeswoman Colleen O'Rourke wrote in an Oct. 3 statement to Inside the Navy. "The funding is considered a continued effort to support procurement of VIRGINIA Class SSNs."
In late September, the Obama administration approved a three-month continuing resolution that spans from October through December. A continuing resolution is a stopgap funding measure that allows the government to continue operating under prior fiscal year spending levels.

Journey's End For X51 At Town's Submarine Centre

Craig Borland, Helensburgh Advertiser
13 October 2016

A four-year journey towards the completion of Helensburgh's newest visitor attraction moved a big step closer this week.
A major logistical operation at the Scottish Submarine Centre on Tuesday morning saw a Cold War midget submarine manoeuvred off two low-loaders on the last leg of a long journey towards its final, permanent, home.
HMS Stickleback – also known by her original designation, X51 – will form the star attraction at the centre, which could be ready to open, at least in partial form, as early as next month.
Fascinated onlookers paused during their morning commute or school run to watch as the two parts of the submarine were manoeuvred off two HGVs owned by Dumbarton-based Galt Transport, and transported inch-by-inch towards their new home by a team of forklift truck operators from specialist firm Allelys.
The operation is expected to continue until the end of this week:welders were due to arrive on Wednesday, after the Advertiser went to press, and cement contractors on Thursday to construct the base on which the submarine will rest.
The last piece in the jigsaw will come on Friday when X51 will be lowered into place, and when the centre's founder, Brian Keating, will be given the job of crawling inside X51 and putting her back together – something which can't be done from outside the vessel.
As to what happens next, Mr Kearing said: “We have a series of work details in place between ourselves and the Submariners' Association for painting the submarine, installing electrics, projectors, underfloor heating and insulation.
“I think we'll be in pretty good shape to do something by Remembrance Sunday, although the final decision on whether to do a 'soft launch' then or to wait until the centre is fully complete will rest with the members of the Scottish Submarine Trust.”
X51, which has been donated to the centre by the Royal Navy, was separated into two pieces before being brought north last month from the Royal Navy Submarine Museum in Gosport, Hampshire.
Previously she was on display at the Imperial War Museum in Duxford, Cambridgeshire.
Bob Seaward, preisdent of the Submariners' Association for Scotland, said: “Given Helensburgh is soon to be the home of the UK’s entire submarine fleet, this initiative couldn’t come at a better time.
“I’m sure it will be much visited and has universal support locally”.
Helensburgh councillor Aileen Morton, who also has responsibility as Argyll and Bute's policy lead on sustainable economic growth and tourism, added: “Supporting new attractions to enhance the viability of our town centres is a critical part of economic development in Argyll and the new Submarine centre’s location, in the town centre should have a very positive effect on Helensburgh.”
Among the fascinated onlookers outside the centre on Tuesday morning was local councillor, West of Scotland MSP and Helensburgh resident Maurice Corry, who said: “I'm delighted to see the submarine arrive. It's been a long time in the planning but the operation has required a great deal of specialist planning and Brian Keating is to be congratulated for driving it forward as chair of the Scottish Submarine Trust.
“All the trustees are also to be congratulated for their perseverance in making this happen, because the centre will be a very important visitor attraction for Helensburgh and the surrounding area.
“The Royal Navy Submarine Museum also deserves great credit for all the help they have given to the Trust in enabling this project to happen.
“I must also pay tribute to the members of the West of Scotland branch of the Submariners' Association, who have given their time to the project voluntarily over the last two years.
“They, like me, are very pleased that the centre will include a memorial to all the men of the submarine service who have made the supreme sacrifice in the service of their country, and I look forward to the memorial's dedication once the centre is complete.”

Interview: Rear Adm. Robert Girrier on the Future of the Navy’s Unmanned Systems

Megan Eckstein, USNI News
12 October 2016 

THE PENTAGON — One year into his job as the inaugural director of unmanned warfare systems (OPNAV N99), Rear Adm. Robert Girrier has overseen progress on three key unmanned platforms, begun work on a common-control system to plan and execute missions in multiple domains, and set priorities for out-year budgets.
But, he told USNI News in an Oct. 6 interview, perhaps the biggest accomplishment was finding the directorate’s niche, nestled between the domain-based requirements officers and the warfighters in the fleet.
“The charge to me was be the champion for unmanned systems, and show how they bring value, and then work on integrating them into the force, the fleet,” he said.
“That was the vision, and I have to say it was quite right-minded because the technology is increasing all around us and this is something we should tap into.”
To do that, though, required showing that unmanned systems as an idea was value-added.
“We want to embed, we want to mainstream unmanned systems,” he said.
“My approach has been not to create a new community called ‘unmanned,’ because I think that minimizes” what the technology can do to complement manned systems in traditional warfighting roles.
“If we can see farther . . . understand quicker, act faster, and adapt continuously, you’re going to be a very powerful fighting force. And that’s what we’re after,” Girrier said.
To integrate unmanned into the existing fleet in a way that has staying power, Girrier took a two-pronged approach: he explained the current programs of record in terms of how they fit in with fleet concepts such as maritime distributed operations, and he responded quickly to Fleet requests for unmanned support to increase trust and buy-in from the warfighters.
Take, for example, the anti-submarine warfare (ASW) Continuous Trail Unmanned Vessel (ACTUV). The partnership between N99, the Office of Naval Research (ONR) and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) on the 130-foot medium-displacement trimaran does not seek to replace anything a destroyer is doing, but rather would benefit the whole carrier strike group through the vessel’s months-long and thousand-mile autonomous capabilities.
 “Just imagine in your mind’s eye a carrier strike group getting under way, and as part of the strike group’s screen you’ve got one of these or more,” he said of the ACTUV vessels. “Now you’ve freed up a screen ship to do something else, or push out further, or whatever you want it to do. [ACTUV] has the autonomy onboard to go off and do things that are meaningful, stuff that you want to get done, and again extends the reach—part of realizing this idea of distributed maritime operations.”
Similarly, the MQ-25A Stingray unmanned aerial vehicle would provide the air wing with organic mission tanking and recovery tanking, to “take what the carrier does and have it do it even better,” Girrier said—freeing F/A-18E-F Super Hornet pilots who would otherwise have to stick around the carrier for recovery tanking missions and instead letting them serve in a proper fighter-jet role.
Same with the large-diameter unmanned underwater vehicle (LDUUV), which would be hosted by a surface ship or attack submarine. The LDUUV’s endurance and autonomy to deploy at sea, conduct intelligence preparation of the environment (IPOE) or below-water intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR) missions and then return to its host ship, is another “great example of adding capability, adding capacity to an existing manned part of the force.”
These programs come from Big Navy, with each filling important mission needs and also allowing the service to field a first instantiation of an unmanned vehicle in their respective domains and learn lessons as warfighters adopt the technology. Girrier said the opposite approach was also important in this first year—taking suggestions from the sailors at sea who are conducting missions and see opportunities for unmanned systems to aid them.
“Our association with the fleet is absolutely vital. The relevance of unmanned is not unmanned for unmanned’s sake, it’s not us pushing these systems onto the fleet but listening, being responsive to what their needs are,” Girrier said.
A prime example of this is the Enhanced Recovery of Group 1 UAVs (ERGU) project. The Navy currently uses the RQ-20A Puma at sea but had no good way to recover the vehicles. Girrier said he heard from the Fleet, “’When we recover these things we often land them on the water, and that’s not always the most uneventful evolution, sometimes we damage these things.’ And so we listened to that demand signal from the fleet, saying, ‘Hey, landing these things on the water can cause some damage; we’d really prefer an automated recovery mechanism.’”
A guided-missile destroyer on deployment is currently testing the ERGU system, which Girrier said allows the Puma to fly into an automated capture system instead of hitting the water, requiring crewmembers on a small boat go retrieve the UAV. He said the project was not complex, but it
exemplifies rapid learning, a timely response to fleet requests and an effort to make unmanned systems more usable—which in total builds trust in unmanned as an idea and builds momentum for whatever system is fielded next.
Girrier said he was able to pursue several prototyping projects in Fiscal Year 2016—including both the ERGU system and a reconfigurable software payload addition to the Broad Area Maritime Surveillance—Demonstrator (BAMS-D)—and would begin to do the same in FY 2017 as soon as funding is made available.
Several programs are ready to do as soon as the money shows up, he said, including efforts to focus on unmanned underwater systems and improve their endurance and navigation capabilities and introduce new ways to recharge UUVs at sea to increase persistence.
“From ideas and concepts to formal programs of record and projects, to prototyping in ’16 to what we have lined up in ’17, to interacting with the Fleet and being responsive to demand signals, that’s what this year’s been about,” Girrier said of his first year at the new directorate.

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Why Britain - and BAE Systems - Must Make A Success  Of The £41bn Successor Submarines 

Alan Tovey, The Telegraph
8 October 2016

Longer than three Olympic swimming pools, weighing in at 17,200 tonnes and menacingly quiet – the Royal Navy’s new Successor submarines will be massive.
Their job is to lurk under the ocean, providing Britain’s Trident missile nuclear deterrent, a terrible insurance policy no one wants to use but in a world growing more unstable, one that looks increasingly necessary.
The programme to build these leviathans is even larger than they are. Last week, Defence Secretary Michael Fallon was at BAE Systems’ Barrow-in-Furness shipyard in Cumbria to press the button that started the cutting of the very first steel plate for this £41bn project, which includes a £10bn contingency fund. He called it Britain’s “biggest military project since the Second World War”. 
A total of just four of submarines will be built. The first us expected to be completed in the late 2020s and going into service a few years later, beginning an expected 30-year life.
Already the project is gearing up: 2,600 people are employed on it across the UK, rising to 7,000 when it hits full swing in the 2020s. Once they are in service, the Government says maintaining and sustaining Britain’s nuclear deterrent will support 30,000 jobs.
There is no doubt that Successor is big – both in the physical size of the vessels and the financial numbers attached to them – but the impact of the programme is also being felt on a much smaller, personal scale.
Standing in the shipyard’s metal shop as Fallon's ceremonial start unfolded, BAE staff considered what it meant.
It’s emotional, it’s the start of something big that means thousands of jobs for decades. My kids could be working on this
“It’s emotional, it’s the start of something big that means thousands of jobs for decades,” said one hard hat-wearing employee who cannot be named because of the secrecy surrounding the project . “My kids could be working on this.” 
Another was less excited – even though Mr Fallon’s visit meant an hours-long break for staff as work was halted for the minister’s arrival.
“You just take it on the chin,” said the BAE veteran, who has been building subs at the site since the 1970s. “Sure, it’s an important moment but I’ve worked on so many of them over the years. I’ve stood on submarines as they’ve slid into the water.”
The importance of submarines to the history of Barrow is borne out by looking back at the 70,000-population town’s history. All but three of the Navy’s nuclear submarines have been built there and the Barrow has produced underwater vessels since the 1880s. Its geographical location as far from the threat of Luftwaffe bombers as possible during the Second World War meant it was focus of submarine construction.
Today the shipyard, including contractors, employs about 8,000 people. The bulk of them currently work on boats four and five – HMS Audacious and HMS Anson – of the seven-vessel Astute class of attack submarines. These are the “hunter-killer” vessels, the Navy’s “glamour” submarines” seeking out and destroying ships and other submarines, inserting special forces and gathering information, whereas Successor is a missile submarine, slinking along at a few knots, quietly easing away from potential confrontations and protecting its deadly payload. 
BAE is Barrow’s biggest business, dominating its economy, just as the 750ft-long, 150ft-high Devonshire Dock Hall where submarines are built dominates the skyline.
However, the workforce was once bigger. Barrow also built surface ships and until the late 1990s almost 15,000 people worked there. This figure plunged with the completion of the Vanguard nuclear submarines, which the Successors will replace.
“You should have seen the queue to get out of the gates,” said the BAE veteran, joking that it took hours to get home as the well-paid workforce plotted their way through the town’s pubs.
A break in Britain’s submarine construction before the Astute programme got into gear almost a decade ago meant the workforce dropped to less than 3,000.
This break in continuous production of such complex vessels also meant vital skills were lost, not just to the town but Britain’s industrial base.
“Australia was building submarines at the time and skilled people were choosing a life Down Under over life on the dole in Barrow,” says local MP John Woodcock, adding that the town suffered in the wake of the wind down.
That gap also brought problems for BAE Systems, which acquired the Barrow shipyard when it was created
through the 1999 merger of British Aerospace and GEC Marconi – and also the government.
A lack of continuity and loss of skills contributed to numerous problems with the Astutes, with the first to be built four years late and £2bn over budget. Troubles included problems with the nuclear reactor provided by Rolls-Royce – which has supplied the power plants for all Britain’s atomic submarines and will do so for Successor - and issues with  the quality of work and equipment overseen by BAE.
BAE and the government are determined this cannot happen again.
Mr Fallon warned that BAE would “suffer” if costs soared. But it's not only the financial costs that are too high. The Successor submarines will take over as the centrepiece of Britain’s security as their Vanguard-class predecessors retire.
“They cannot be late,” the defence secretary said. “BAE understands that… It matters for the world. With the US and France, they provide the nuclear umbrella for Nato.”
Speaking in the giant Devonshire Dock Hall, with HMS Audacious and HMS Anson behind him, Tony Johns, managing director of BAE’s submarines business, acknowledged the company had learnt an “awful lot of lessons” from the Astute submarines.
“We’ve learnt from ourselves, from others, such as the US, and from major infrastructure programmes,” said the former submariner who joined BAE after 27 years in the Navy. The fact the first steel for Successor was cut on the date first planned five years ago showed BAE “has got it right”, he added.
The Successor submarines will be built alongside the Astute class attack submarines currently under construction 
There is no gap between programmes this time. The Successor vessels will be built alongside the last of the Astutes in the shipyard.
“The concurrency has helped massively,” Mr Johns said. “The big issue of Vanguard going into Astute was we didn’t build any nuclear submarines for 10 years and we had to rebuild those skills. We’ve got people working on Successor today who a few weeks ago were on Astute. Their skills are absolutely current and that will ripple throughout the yard.”
It’s not just physical engineering lessons that have been learnt. The design of Successor is much more “mature”, meaning experience gained on the earlier programme results in fewer problems surfacing later, which are costly and complex to fix.
“Design maturity means we can look at things and say ‘that’s done, we know we won’t change’. That was a big lesson from Astute,” the BAE boss added.
Despite the pressure on the business from the Government, Mr Johns conceded that BAE has the potential to lose out if the company fails to hit cost targets and deadlines.
“There will be an impact on BAE’s reputation and it’s always possible you can lose money but this contract lasts 20 years” he said. “We’re confident that what we are producing will go up against the best in the world.”
Rear Admiral Mike Wareham, director of submarine acquisition at Defence Equipment & Support, the government body in charge of procuring military kit, is equally positive. “We’ve learnt from the Americans, who build a lot more submarines than we do,” he says, adding that Britain has applied US best practice where appropriate and modified the rest.
“We don’t have a great recent history of building these large scale projects but have a much better understanding of exactly what is involved now,” he said. “It’s going to cost £31bn and we hope we don’t have to use the contingency, but this is a project that we have to do right.”
BAE is the prime contractor on the project, but Rolls-Royce is also taking a major role. Perhaps surprisingly, given that it is best known for its jet engines, the PWR3 reactor Rolls is creating for Successor is the second largest of all the company’s current projects. At the moment 600 of the 3,000 staff in Rolls’s nuclear business are working on it, a number only set to grow.
Rolls will provide a “cradle to the grave” service for the nuclear reactors, which is expected to be worth billions to the company across the Successor submarines’ 30-year lifetimes.
Joining Rolls will be upwards of 350 contractors, with the project spending between £8bn and £9bn in the supply chain, with 85pc of the work going to UK companies, according to BAE.
Stuart Klosinski, project manager of Furness’s development forum, puts a much higher figure on the value of the work to the region. His organisation reckons nearer to 1,000 businesses will benefit across the UK.
“To give you some idea of the impact of Successor between now and 2050, the programme will generate 10pc of the gross added value of the whole of the Northern Powerhouse,” he said. “That’s a huge amount, about £4.2bn in Barrow alone.”
Submarine construction dominates Barrow's economy - as well as the town's skyline  
Local MP Mr Woodcock agrees government is taking a more long-time view on the impact of Successor than with previous programmes.
“Successor not going ahead would have meant the implosion of Barrow,” he says. “But they are already talking about what comes next to maintain those skills.”
Currently called Maritime Underwater Future Capability - MUFC for short, much to the dismay of Barrow FC supporters - this could involve the submarines with the capability of operating unmanned underwater vehicles.
Much was made of the fact the steel Mr Fallon cut last week for Successor’s hulls was supplied by French business Industeel. Both the defence secretary and BAE were keen to play down the fact, pointing out that this represented less than 0.5pc of the project’s value.
Britain’s steel industry may be in crisis, they said, but the work was contracted before this was apparent and, in any the event, both said no UK companies had the ability to supply the specification they needed.
Local MP John Woodcock has been resolute in his support for the Successor programme 
Mr Woodcock takes a more rounded view. “As I understand it, 40pc of the steel has yet to be contracted so there’s plenty of opportunities for British companies,” the MP
said. “The debate over where the steel came from just clouds the issue.
“We can’t forget that with Successor we are retaining an ability to make a highly advanced, highly classified part of Britain’s defence in this country. It’s so secret that most of it can only be be built by British nationals. It’s something to be proud of.”  
People on Barrow’s streets certainly have a sense of pride about the start of Successor.  
“It’s a big boost, there’s more people coming into our town and it’s a help for all the business” said Jace Healey, 22, who works in the Furness Railway pub.
His thoughts were echoed by Paula Harris, 31. “It means a lot to the town,” she said. “We’re proud to know it’s happening here, there’s pride in Barrow building Britain’s submarines.”
The mum to three-year old Jake was unsure what it would mean in the long-term for her son, though.
“Jake knows what the submarines are, we’ve been on them on open days and seen them in the dock,” she said.
Only time will tell if the prosperity Successor is bringing to the town will continue long into Jake’s future.

America's Nuclear Powered Attack Submarines Are Getting a Powerful New Weapon

Such a technology allows for closer-in reconnaissance missions when it comes to operating in enemy territory, close to the shoreline, or overcoming the anti-access/area-denial challenges posed by potential adversaries.

Kris Osborn, National Interest
10 October 2016

The Navy's emerging drone strategy envisions a scenario where multiple drones can conduct ISR, search for mines and even find and attack targets.
Groups of underwater 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 service 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.
Groups of integrated drones 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 to access relevant information faster and more efficiently, providing commanders with a larger window with which to make critical decisions, Rear Adm. Robert Girrier, Director, Unmanned Warfare Systems, told Scout Warrior in an interview.
Using satellite integrated telemetry, some underwater drones can transmit information back to boats in near real time; this provides a substantial tactical advantage because smaller drones are less detectable to enemy sonar and therefore able to access areas that are more difficult for larger submarines to penetrate. Such a technology allows for closer-in reconnaissance missions when it comes to operating in enemy territory, close to the shoreline, or overcoming the anti-access/area-denial challenges posed by potential adversaries.
Correspondingly, a group of ship-launched aerial platforms such as Puma unmanned systems accompanied by swarms of mini-drones are might be able to beam back real-time video feeds of threats beyond-the-horizon, finding and possibly attacking otherwise out-of-range enemy targets such as fast-approaching small boats, ships or incoming anti-ship cruise missiles.
It is not inconceivable more timely identification of approaching threats and attacks at farther distances could mean the difference between life or death for crew members on board a ship or submarine.
Such scenarios, envisioned for the not-too-distant future, provide the conceptual foundation of the Navy’s emerging drone strategy. The idea is to capitalize upon the fast increasing speed of computer processing and rapid improvements in the development of autonomy-increasing algorithms; 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.
“We aim to harness these technologies. In the next five years or so we are going to try to move from human operated systems to human assisted systems that are less dependent on people. Technology is going to enable increased autonomy," Girrier told Scout Warrior. 
The strategy is aimed at enabling submarines, surface ships and some land-based operations to take advantage of fast-emerging computer technologies. While not likely to be realized in immediate or near-term future, this trajectory will ultimately likely lead to the use of what’s called “artificial intelligence.” This involves the use of 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.
Girrier explained that the emerging strategy is by no means intended to replace humans but rather leverage human perception and cognitive ability to operate multiple drones while functioning in a command and control capacity.
Perhaps multiple 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. 
“This is not talking about removing the human in the loop but optimizing humans and machines working together. Think about combining the creativity and agility of the human mind with a computer that does things faster - that is pretty powerful. That is at the center of our unmanned strategy,” Girrier added.
The approach is designed as a mission multiplier to increase efficiency and perform a wider range of functions much more quickly. Armed with a small fleet of underwater drones, a submarine or destroyer will be able to perform higher-priority missions while allowing unmanned systems to quickly gather and transmit combat-relevant tactical and strategic information.
Unmanned systems will also increasingly be involved in strike missions to identify and attack enemy targets from the air, land or undersea domain, Girrier added. However, in a manner consistent with the development of other unmanned systems, decisions about the use of lethal force with drones will, according to Pentagon doctrine, be made by human beings in a command and control capacity.
Current Progress:
The Navy’s Unmanned Systems Directorate, or N99, was formally stood up this past September with the focused mission of quickly accessing emerging technologies and applying them to unmanned platforms.
Girrier explained how the process of increasing computing power is already underway with a handful of current Navy platforms, including the Navy’s RQ-4 Alpha Global Hawk or Broad Area Maritime surveillance which has been operating in the Middle East region for quite some time now. The Navy Global Hawk is now being developed into a high-tech maritime-specific platform called the Triton; the Triton is engineered with particular maritime sensors, an ability to traverse through different altitudes and weather conditions and a special ability to operate in icy conditions.
The Navy has added a new software programmable radio technology to the RQ-4 system, giving it a much more efficient ability to transmit information. Software programmable radios can often operate on multiple frequencies with different waveforms to send IP packets of data, voice and even video across the force in real time. Each radio not only sends RF signals but also functions like a node or router in a wireless computer network. These radios allow the Navy to combine multiple radios into a single box, Girrier explained.
“Software reprogrammable radio is an ability to increase the configuration of a specific radio so that you do not have to change it out. Instead of having four different radios in different spectrum ranges, you have one box,” he said. “Technology is allowing us to reconfigure things within the same size, weight and space.”
In addition, the Navy is operating a small ship-launched Puma drone to provide over-the-horizon visual range for surface platforms, he added.
“This is helpful in counter-piracy and interdiction ops and has an enhanced recovery. It uses a GPS position to fly the UAS into a net and make it more precise, quicker and more efficient,” Girrier said.
The Navy is also working with platforms called Wavegliders designed to collect oceanographic and
hydrographic information, Girrier explained.  For instance, a current underwater drone called the Seaglider uses buoyancy and wings to achieve forward motion as opposed to an electrically driven propeller. It is able to gather oceanographic data for long periods of time, collecting data and then sending it back.
The service is the early phases of developing an emerging program called the MQ-25 Stingray intended to be a carrier-launched unmanned refueling and ISR platform.