Saturday, June 9, 2018

Royal Navy nuclear submarine leaves Plymouth after a 'complex' and 'challenging' refit

Maxx Channon,
8 June 2018

UK -- The Royal Navy nuclear-powered submarine HMS Talent is beginning intensive training to re-join the frontline operational fleet after a major refit.
The Trafalgar Class submarine has completed an extensive multi-million pound maintenance period in HM Naval Base Devonport in Plymouth.
The successful end of the engineering project was marked by her crew celebrating with the formal ceremony of Ship’s Company Divisions. The tradition of divisions, steeped in history, was overseen by
Commodore J Le S Perks, Commodore of the Submarine Flotilla. Submariners were joined by 100 family and friends at the event, followed by a BBQ and games at HMS Drake.
HMS Talent is due to sail from Plymouth for operational sea training with staff of the Flag Officer Sea raining organisation.
After weeks of tough realistic scenarios preparing her for any eventualities, including combat, HMS Talent and her crew will be declared fit for duties worldwide.
Commander Jamie Mitchell, HMS Talent commanding officer, said: “This maintenance project has presented many challenges, most notably to our technical departments who have been working incredibly hard to get the submarine ready for operations.”
The maintenance period, undertaken by Babcock, includes capability upgrades enabling the submarine to operate into the next decade and remain one of the world’s most potent military assets.
Gavin Leckie, Babcock Submarine Support Director, said: “The maintenance period has been a complex project that has relied on a strong partnering ethos between Babcock, the Submarine Delivery Agency and ship’s staff and we’re delighted to see the vessel getting ready for service following its successful engineering maintenance programme. The joint project team should be incredibly proud of what they have achieved.”
The submarine’s command team initially achieved a ‘Safe for Sea’ assessment after training on shore in the ‘Talisman’ Submarine Command Team simulator at Devonport.
This realistic environment ensures the crew are safe to operate in busy shipping areas amongst merchant vessels and other and military vessels. The crew’s ability to launch Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles and discharge Spearfish torpedoes against surface and sub-surface targets was also assessed.

Putin vows all unveiled ‘breakthrough’ weapons will timely arrive for Russian troops

The Russian leader said that two nuclear-powered weapon systems are currently being developed in Russia.

Staff, TASS
7 June 2018

RUSSIA -- Russian President Vladimir Putin said during his annual Q&A session on Thursday that all the ‘breakthrough’ weapon systems he had announced in his address to the Federal Assembly would be timely manufactured and delivered to the troops.
"The work is ongoing according to plan under scheduled procedures. I have no doubts that they [the armaments] will be delivered to the Russian Army on schedule," Putin said.
As the Russian leader said, two nuclear-powered weapon systems are currently being developed in Russia. Specifically, these are the short-range missile and the underwater drone, he said.
"In both cases, we have completed the main stage of development, namely, the work associated with the testing of this nuclear propulsion unit," the Russian leader said, noting that some things still had to be finalized.
According to the Russian leader, those who have doubts about Russia’s ability to produce such advanced systems had also doubts in 2004 when the work on developing the Avangard weapon system began. The Russian president also said that the ‘breakthrough’ weapon he had mentioned was far from all the armaments that Russia planned to manufacture and put into service.
"As I spoke in my address, it is still early to speak about this but soon we will tell about that," Russia’s supreme commander-in-chief said.

The US's most decorated warship is also one of its least well-known — and that's the way the Navy wanted it

Ian D'Costa,
7 June 2018

There's a good chance that if you were to take a guess as to which warship was the most decorated ship in US Navy history, you'd probably get it wrong. In fact, you'd probably be shocked to learn that this vessel never once fired a shot in anger, despite being armed at all times throughout its career. If you're confused now, that's good... that's exactly the way the Navy wanted it, at least while the USS Parche was still in active service during the Cold War and beyond.
When construction began on the Parche in 1970, nobody, not even the Mississippi shipbuilders toiling away at bringing the vessel to life, had any idea about what their project would eventually become. Indeed, Parche was just another hunter/killer nuclear submarine, designed to tail and destroy enemy surface and underwater combatants with its deadly loadout of torpedoes. Ordered as part of the Sturgeon class, it was commissioned in 1974 and served for two years in the Atlantic Fleet in its originally-intended role.
In 1976, Parche was moved to the Pacific fleet and modified for the first time. Not much is publicly known about this initial retrofit, but the submarine's service exploits fell out of the public eye very quickly. As it turns out, the Navy selected Parche to support the National Underwater Reconnaissance Office — a highly secretive joint partnership between the Central Intelligence Agency and the Navy.
Over the next few years, Parche's mission set rapidly evolved from functioning as a typical run-of-the-mill attack submarine, to a ghost-like spy submarine, outfitted with monitoring gear, reconnaissance, and surveillance systems. The submarine force is often known as the "silent service" due to the fact that submarines work best when undetected. NURO and the Navy took this a step further with crews assigned to the Parche, swearing them to absolute secrecy, owing to the nature of their command's job.
By the end of the 1970s, Parche had already made multiple trips into the Sea of Okhotsk, along with the USS Halibut and the USS Seawolf, to wiretap Soviet communications cables as part of Operation Ivy Bells. These wiretaps, undetected until a National Security Agency leak in the mid-80s, proved to be extremely invaluable in picking up Soviet military intelligence. The Parche also assisted with recovering the fragments of Soviet anti-shipping rockets, so that the Navy could analyze them and develop countermeasures to safeguard its own vessels.
Parche, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, underwent a number of additional overhauls that beefed up its surveillance apparatus, adding cameras and an elongated hull to make room for more gear and a larger crew complement, among other things. Like the USS Seawolf, the Parche was given a set of "skegs," or underwater skids, earlier on. These skegs allowed it to sit on the ocean floor while divers moved in and out of the hull of the submarine on wiretap and debris recovery missions.
By the early 2000s, Parche had gotten too old for its missions. The Sturgeon-class was already almost fully retired from the Navy, having been replaced by the Los Angeles and Seawolf classes of hunter/killer nuclear boats. Eventually, in 2004, the decision was made to pull the aging spy submarine, euphemistically referred to as a "special projects platform," from active service for its long-overdue retirement.
After around 30 years of service, Parche was decommissioned and scrapped, though her sail with its markings was removed and placed on display in Bremerton, Washington. Today, the USS Jimmy Carter, a Seawolf-class submarine, serves the same purpose and operates under the same conditions that Parche did, functioning as America's premier spy sub.
Even though Parche's exploits will remain hidden from public sight for decades to come, one only has to look at the marks that denote 9 Presidential Unit Citations, 10 Navy Unit Commendations and 13 Navy Expeditionary Medals, to know that Parche served her country faithfully in the most daring of circumstances throughout her hushed-up career.

Partisan battle for new tactical nuke looms in Senate

Joe Gould, Defense News Online
6 June 2018

WASHINGTON - Democrats want to take their fight against the Trump administration’s planned a new low-yield tactical nuclear weapon to the Senate‘s annual defense policy bill.
It’s the latest flashpoint in a partisan divide over whether to pursue a new, tactical submarine-launched nuclear missile. The Pentagon and others advocate for the systems to deter Russia from using its own arsenal of low-yield nuclear weapons, but opponents see it as lowering the threshold for a nuclear war.
The Senate Armed Services Committee began debate on its $716 billion annual defense policy bill Wednesday, which contains a provision removing restrictions on the U.S. development or deployment of such a weapon without congressional authorization. The bill would grant the energy secretary new authority to carry out the weapon’s energy development phase, or any subsequent phase, without Congress’ specific approval.
Democrats plan to offer an amendment to preserve congressional oversight, Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Jack Reed, D-R.I., said in a floor speech Wednesday. Reed is among lawmakers who crafted the restrictions in 2003.
“I have spent countless hours [on the issue], and I’m not alone,” Reed said. “My colleagues on the committee and many members of this Senate have spent hours thinking about the issues that are caused by these proposals. I’m concerned that we have not fully grasped all the complex implications. Indeed, there is an honest disagreement among experts in the field on this issue.”
“Given the policy ramifications of development and deployment of low-yield nuclear weapons and any type of nuclear weapon, I believe that Congress should be involved every step of the way,” Reed said.
Reed’s House counterpart, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, D-Wash., has voiced outright opposition to the weapons.
The 1,140-page 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, which still faces months of congressional debate before becoming law, tackles a broad range of policy and budgetary matters, including troop pay, weapons procurement and bureaucratic reforms. It must be reconciled with its analogue in the House, where Republicans parried other Democratic attempts to scuttle the weapon.
The panel’s No. 2 Republican, Sen. Jim Inhofe — who is stewarding the bill while SASC Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., battles cancer at home — seemed to support the idea of a floor debate on the matter as the chamber takes up amendments to the bill.
“I know there will be some controversy,” Inhofe said in his floor speech. “The ranking member and I don’t agree on everything, and this is one area that we probably don’t agree on. We want to have amendments and open debate, and that’s what we’re going to have.”
SASC Airland Subcommittee Chairman Tom Cotton, R-Ark., authored the bill’s language, and he appeared to be ready for debate this week.
“It’s troubling that Democrats want to play politics with our national security, but we simply can’t afford to let our adversaries around the world have the competitive edge when it comes to nuclear weapons,” Cotton communications director Caroline Tabler said in an email Tuesday.
In the opposing corner is senior Democratic appropriator Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who has said she is troubled by the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review and its call for a new weapon. On Tuesday, she alerted colleagues to the Cotton amendment, reading it at the Democratic Caucus lunch meeting.
She has expressed objection to a Cabinet-level secretary being able to initiate the advanced engineering a new nuclear weapon without Congress’ specific approval.
“The amendment, I think, is very dangerous,” she said Wednesday.

Brazil starts testing laboratory generators for nuclear submarines

Victor Barreira, Jane’s 360
5 June 2018

BRAZIL - Brazil will start integration testing of turbo generators of its Nuclear Power Generation Laboratory (LABGENE) at Aramar Nuclear Industry Centre (CINA) in Iperó, state of São Paulo, on 8 June.
The testing marks a significant advancement in Brazil’s effort to develop a submarine nuclear power plant. At the same time, Brazil will start building its Multipurpose Reactor (RMB).
Operated by the Navy Technology Center in São Paulo (CTMSP), the 48 MW LABGENE integrates the Navy Nuclear Programme (PNM). It also performs the ground prototyping for a nuclear propulsion plant used to perform experiments and validates the operating conditions of a pressurised water reactor (PWR) type, which will lead for the construction of nuclear propulsion unit for the first Brazilian nuclear-powered attack submarine SN-BR Álvaro Alberto.

New submarine could swim without engine

6 June 2018

Researchers have developed a new propulsion concept for swimming robots.
The robot exploits temperature fluctuations in the water for propulsion without the need for an engine, propellant or power supply.
As a proof-of-concept study, the researchers developed a 7.5-centimetre mini-submarine equipped with paddles, which they fabricated entirely using a multi-material 3D printer.
The paddles are actuated using a bistable propulsion element triggered by two shape memory polymer strips as previously developed by ETH Professor Kristina Shea and her doctoral student Tim Chen. Designed to expand in warm water, the polymer strips power the robot by acting like “muscles”.
If the water in which the mini-submarine floats is heated, the expansion of the “muscles” causes the bistable element to quickly snap, triggering a paddle stroke. The directional motion, force and timing of the paddle strokes are precisely defined by the robot’s geometry and material.
Vessel with multiple propulsion elements
At present, each actuating element can execute a single paddle stroke and must then be reprogrammed manually. However, as the scientists point out, it is possible to fabricate complex swimming robots with multiple actuators.
The scientists have already made a mini-submarine that can paddle forward with one stroke, release its “cargo” (a coin) and then navigate back to the starting point with a second paddle stroke in the opposite direction, all by sensing changes in temperature of the water.
Varying the geometry of the polymer muscles allowed the scientists to define the sequence at which the paddle stroke is triggered: thin polymer strips heat up faster in warm water and therefore respond faster than thicker ones.
A potential development would be using polymers that do not react to the water temperature, but to other environmental factors such as the acidity or salinity of the water.
“The main takeaway from our work is that we have developed a new and promising means of propulsion that is fully 3D printed, tuneable and works without an external power source,” says ETH Professor Shea. This could possibly be developed further to create a low-power vessel for exploring ocean depths..

Navy’s Knifefish Unmanned Mine Hunter Passes Sea Acceptance Testing

Ben Werner,
5 June 2018

The Navy’s Knifefish unmanned undersea vehicle, a key component of the Littoral Combat Ship’s mine-hunting capability, successfully completed sea acceptance testing off the coast of Massachusetts.
The Knifefish, built by General Dynamics and based on the Bluefin Robotics Bluefin-21 deep-water Autonomous Undersea Vehicle, is a self-propelled, untethered vehicle designed to hunt for mines without requiring an LCS or other manned ship to enter a minefield.
By successfully completing the sea acceptance testing, the program now moves to the next phase of development – developmental test and operational assessment – according to General Dynamics.
“These tests prove the Knifefish system can detect, classify and identify undersea mines in high-clutter environments,” Carlo Zaffanella, vice president and general manager of General Dynamics Mission Systems, said in a statement.
Meanwhile, the first group of Navy fleet operators have completed their initial Knifefish training, conducted by the General Dynamics team, so they can operate the system during the upcoming developmental test and operational assessment.
Unlike other autonomous vehicles that tow a sonar, Knifefish has a sonar built into its body. But the Knifefish program has been hampered by previous concerns about its range and endurance.
In 2016, delays in reaching important production milestones, a $2.3-million fix to the communications system that helps Knifefish talk to operators aboard LCSs, and ongoing problems with Knifefish’s ability to accomplish its core mission – detecting mines – resulted in a 2016 Department of Defense Inspector General report recommending the Navy consider canceling the program if the problems could not be ironed out by the end of 2017.
If the Navy could not revalidate that Knifefish was the right solution to identify buried and other mines, then the IG recommended the Navy was better off canceling the program and finding a “better use” for the $751.5 million dedicated to Knifefish research, development, testing, evaluation and acquisition.
By the end of 2017, General Dynamics and the Navy had worked out the program’s bugs sufficiently to declare a successful completion of contractor trials, according to a statement released by General Dynamics at the time.
“The Navy is pleased with the Knifefish performance during the recent contractor trials, as the system demonstrated its ability to reliably find mines in different environments,” Capt. Jon Rucker, unmanned systems program manager within the Program Executive Office for Unmanned and Small Combatants (formerly PEO LCS), stated in the 2017 General Dynamics news release.
“Knifefish provides the Navy a critical means to find and identify bottom, buried, and volume mines, providing a much-needed capability for the warfighter.”

US Navy reveals plans for autonomous 'robot battleships' that can launch killer drones into the air and sea

Mollie Cahillane, Daily Mail
4 June 2018

UNITED KINGDOM -- The US Navy and researchers from Florida Atlantic University have revealed plans to develop autonomous robotic 'drone battleships' that can launch underwater and aerial attacks in order to protect US coasts.
Last month, FAU was awarded $1.25 million by US Navy for research for unmanned marine vehicle platforms.
The five-year project will undertake research in support of autonomous marine vehicle platforms for coastal surveillance, coastal surveys, target tracking and protection of at-sea assets.
'Our focus will be on developing a multi-vehicle system that can safely and reliably navigate coastal waters with a high level of autonomy while performing assigned tasks,' said Manhar Dhanak, director of SeaTech, the Institute for Ocean and Systems Engineering in FAU's Department of Ocean and Mechanical Engineering.
The researchers plan to develop new software to better improve multi-sensors and collision avoidance, as well as simultaneous localization and mapping (SLAM).
The 'motherships' will also serve as a 'docking station' for submarines and aerial drones.
'Fostering collaborative partnerships in scientific research is essential to ensuring that the United States remains at the forefront of innovation and technology,' said Stella N. Batalama, Ph.D., dean of FAU's College of Engineering and Computer Science.
'We are very pleased to continue our relationship with the Office of Naval Research. This latest grant will enable us to develop important technology that will help to secure our U.S. coastal waters and our assets at-sea both nationally and globally.'
The ships will also function as training and education for graduate and undergraduate students in ocean engineering.
The US Navy hopes that similar protoypes will become more common.
Unmanned vehicles in the ocean and sub-surface are far less expensive to operate and maintain than manned vehicles.
Automated sensors can maintain near-constant awareness and coverage, and the constant surveillance provides better data collection. They also have the potential
to improve productivity, and most importantly, keep human sailors away from danger.
The Navy has also recently developed the Sea Hunter drone warship, a self-driving, 132ft drone warship that can hunt down enemy submarines and travel thousands of miles at sea while obeying maritime laws.
The prototype can reach speeds of 27 knots and uses cameras and radar to track its location and spot other ships.
The anti-submarine drone could join active naval operations as early as this year, ushering in a new era for military warships.
The 132ft (40-metre) ship is designed to travel thousands of miles out at sea without a single crew member on board.
The anti-submarine warfare vessel could join active naval operations as early as 2018 and would hail in a new era of warship.
When it enters service, the ship will operate for around 30 to 90 days at sea without a crew.
Sea Hunter relies on radar and cameras to spot other vessels and will leave and return to port on its own.
Powered by two diesel engines, the ship can reach speeds of 27 knots per hour.
The 132ft (40-metre) ship is designed to travel thousands of miles out at sea without a single crew member on board
The vessel cost around $20 million (£14m) to build and around $20,000 (£14,000) a day to run which is significantly less expensive than crew-run ships.
While initial vessel tests require a pilot on board the ship, later tests are planned to have no personnel on board.
In initial testing of Sea Hunter's autonomy capability back in 2016, the ship successfully executed a multi-way-point mission with no person directing course or speed changes.
The completion of Sea Hunter's performance trials was the first milestone in the two-year test program co-sponsored by DARPA and the Office of Naval Research.
Experts say the vessel has the potential to revolutionise not only the military's maritime service but also commercial shipping.
The full-size prototype could pave the way to developing crewless cargo vessels for the commercial shipping industry someday.

UConn Researchers Advance Submarine Power

30 May 2018
A team of engineers led by UConn engineering professors Yang Cao and Ali Bazzi is conducting groundbreaking research on electric propulsion, moving the U.S. Navy closer to a shift in how submarines are powered.
With funding from the U.S. Department of Defense and Department of Energy, the researchers are developing electrical insulation for use in the manufacture of Next Generation Integrated Propulsion System (NGIPS) motors for military electric propulsion that will provide 50 percent higher power density.
The U.S. Navy is currently shifting from mechanical drive to electric drive in many propulsion systems for combat ships, just as plug-in electric vehicles run on electrical motors. The first modern electric drive submarine will be the Columbia class submarine, which replaces the Ohio class. The Columbia class is scheduled to begin construction in 2021 and enter service in 2031.
“On a nuclear submarine, space is tight,” says Cao, associate professor of electrical and computer engineering. “In order to fit electric drive systems in [the next generation attack class submarine], electric drive components will all need to be smaller.”
The improved insulation material enables the motor to be much smaller. Without it, says Cao, it would be almost impossible to fit electric drive propulsion systems on these future attack class submarines.
Since the cost is roughly in proportion to the volume of the electric machine, reducing the size can also save money. As one of the world’s largest single energy consumers, the U.S. Department of Defense uses about 30,000 GWh of electricity annually, at a cost of nearly $2.2 billion.
Electric motors are easier to control than internal-combustion engines, while also saving energy.
But while integrated electric-propulsion drive systems operate at high power and high frequency, the performance and reliability of these systems depends on their ability to efficiently dissipate thermal energy from the electronics and machines during operation.
Conventional insulative materials used in these systems to withstand high voltages are also good thermal insulators that prevent such heat dissipation.
The UConn team has developed a new 2-D, nanostructured dielectric material with highly improved electrical and thermal characteristics. This material has demonstrated, without redesign, a 15 percent improvement in torque density of the motor on a DDG1000, the first all-electric battleship.
General Dynamics Electric Boat considers the program “revolutionary,” wrote James R. Moody, director of
business development, payloads and sensors at Electric Boat, in a 2015 letter supporting UConn’s application for a grant from the Office of Naval Research.
Electric Boat’s in-kind support has involved evaluating the impact of thermal performance improvement on motor power density, and assessing the technology’s readiness for Naval shipboard applications. The team will be working for two more years on this program to fully demonstrate that the materials they’re developing will produce similar savings in the real world.
The goal is to further optimize the system to generate 20 percent more torque, and complete the accelerated aging test to ensure high service reliability. “This could be game-changing,” says Cao.
The new technology also has advantages for national security, according to Bazzi, UTC assistant professor of engineering innovation in electrical and computer engineering at UConn.
Typically, the U.S. imports strong magnets that contain rare-earth elements, but induction machines are independent of these elements and are easier to control, Bazzi says. One downside is that they have slightly lower efficiency and lower power density than their permanent magnet machine counterparts.
“Improving the power and torque densities of induction machines would make them more competitive in terms of size, ease of control, and supply chain from a national security perspective,” he says.
Electric propulsion also has the potential for commercial applications beyond electric cars and buses.
“This is just the first application,” Cao says, noting that the military is very interested in dual-purpose research. “If this research can be used by industry, this would help expand the supplier base, provide jobs, and potentially lower the cost for the Department of Defense. If this could be further extended to much broader, civilian applications, the impact could be huge.”

Navy Wants Unmanned Systems to be Ubiquitous in Future Warfare

Megan Eckstien,
29 May 2018

The Navy’s acquisition chief disbanded his unmanned systems office, not as a sign of decreased focus on its mission, but to nudge unmanned systems into becoming part of everything the Navy does.
“I don’t want it to be misconstrued that we don’t think unmanned is important; it’s actually exactly the opposite, I think unmanned is so important we need to have it integrated with all of our other teams,” Assistant Secretary of the Navy for Research, Development and Acquisition James Geurts said in a May 24 interview.
“I was actually worried about the fact that treating unmanned too much separately would hamper it. And part of the real challenge is, how do we integrate it into the way we do warfare and into all these platforms, so my sense was it was time to deploy those (unmanned) assets back next to the platforms they would be integrating with, both in the air, on the water and underwater.”
Geurts announced in an April 30 memo that the office of the deputy assistant secretary of the Navy for unmanned systems – about half a dozen people total – would be disestablished, with the personnel and the remaining mission work transitioned to other offices. Geurts and the now-former DASN Unmanned Systems, retired Marine Corps Brig. Gen. Frank Kelley, told USNI News that personnel were transitioned to other DASNs based on their expertise – those with experience in unmanned air systems were sent to DASN Air, those with experience in standards and policy went to DASN Research, Development, Test and Evaluation.
DASN RDT&E will play a particularly important role for unmanned systems going forward, overseeing any remaining policy, legal and ethics issues, as well as standards, commonality and integration efforts. Geurts said much progress has been made in these areas but that work remains, and since DASN RDT&E already works those types of issues for other emerging technologies like artificial intelligence and directed energy weapons it should also handle them for unmanned systems.
Geurts said he took a look at the secretariat after being sworn in in December, and he felt comfortable that DASN Unmanned had met all of its original missions.
“When I looked at mission success from where I think the intent of the guidance was – to really get unmanned to be a part of everything the Navy does, have a little special emphasis to get it up on par with the traditional ways we’ve done warfare – and when I look at the accomplishments I think not only have they met the intent of the tasking but actually taken it quite further to the point where on the [Chief of Naval Operations’ staff] side of the staff you can’t distinguish anymore the manned from the unmanned, it’s part of everything,” Geurts said.
A primary mission was the development of an unmanned systems roadmap, which Kelley and his staff began work on in 2016 and was finally signed by Geurts in the second week of March.
Geurts said the roadmap looked at several facets of unmanned systems operations. One, where can unmanned systems help the Navy and Marine Corps conduct missions they have not done before – for example, with an unmanned system that can swim to deeper depths of the oceans than a manned submarine. Two, where can unmanned systems help the Navy and Marine Corps do today’s missions in a better or more cost-effective manner? And three, where does unmanned give sailors and Marines another tool to tackle an operational scenario, making them a more agile force?
The Navy has not made the roadmap publicly available – USNI News understands the document is not classified but includes sensitive information the service does not want in the open. However, the service last week gave USNI News a short version of the document that outlines
unmanned systems vision, employment concepts and objectives.
Geurts said the roadmap does not consider current technological or policy boundaries or barriers because “the fact that they’re boundaries today doesn’t mean they’re going to be boundaries all the time in the future.” He added that there are still debates to be had about the role of unmanned systems in warfare, but that unmanned systems can provide great benefits to warfighters today and therefore should be leveraged where possible.
Kelley said the roadmap considers the entire DOTMLPF: doctrine, organization, training, materiel, leadership and education, personnel, and facilities. By including all these communities in the discussion, he said the Navy as an enterprise learned a lot about how it can incorporate unmanned systems, but it also learned how to continue the conversation into the future. For example, he said, the legal community was heavily involved in the roadmap development, to include many lieutenants and lieutenant commanders in the legal field. Kelley said that years from now those officers will know the whole range of issues that were discussed while developing the roadmap, that way the next big conversation about unmanned doesn’t repeat past efforts and can instead propel the conversation forward.
Kelley also praised the roadmap for offering some specifics – such as focus areas like seabed warfare – without promising dates or technical specifications of systems the Navy might not be able to hold itself to. He said the roadmap offers the right amount of specificity to give industry and warfare centers an idea of Navy priorities to pursue in their work.
Geurts said the roadmap is meant to be a living document that can be added to or changed as needed, but he said he’s comfortable having those future efforts overseen by the Navy’s operators, researchers and acquisition professionals without the supervision of a dedicated DASN Unmanned Systems office.
“There’s always opportunities to continue to push the boundaries on accelerated acquisition; on, are we really challenging new ways of thinking about old problems, new ways of thinking about new problems. We always need to be challenging ourselves with that,” Geurts said.
“I’m a positively discontent person, I’m always worried we’re not doing enough. But I was comfortable – it’s a fairly bold move to make not too long into the job, I wouldn’t have made that move if I was not comfortable with the progress [Kelley’s office had made], both from where the team had gotten technically and then where we had gotten organizationally.”

Why the U.S. should stock up on Tomahawk cruise missiles

Jonathan Bergner , Defense News Online
29 May 2018

The Tomahawk cruise missile is one of the most effective and highly utilized weapons in the U.S. arsenal ― and we have decided to stop producing them.
Last month, the U.S. Navy placed its final order for 100 replacement Tomahawks, citing a new cruise missile under development as the reason for closing the production line. Well and good, but the new missiles are not expected to be available until 2030. In the meantime, the U.S. should maintain — and even grow — its inventory of the cruise missile, which has been aptly described as the military’s “weapon of choice.”
Look at the numbers. Although exact figures are not publicly available, it is estimated that the Navy fires about 100 Tomahawks per year. In its first 15 months, the Trump administration has used Tomahawks at least twice, first launching roughly 60 against the Shayrat air base in Syria in response to that regime’s use of chemical weapons. Then again last month, in a coordinated strike with France and the U.K. against the Assad regime, the U.S. launched approximately 100 Tomahawks, according to U.S. Department of Defense officials.
Last month’s final order of replacements does not even return us to pre-Trump levels, and at the current rate, the total inventory would run out in about five years.
In order to deter potential adversaries, they must believe that we have both the capability and the will to retaliate. Opponents must believe that we can and will hit back. The U.S. has deployed Tomahawks in a variety of situations in which it might not have engaged in other ways, such as the use of ground troops.
But we must have them to use them. As the number of cruise missiles declines in the absence of replacements, each missile becomes more precious and the cost of using it goes up. What if we need Tomahawks for an unforeseen but far more extensive conflict than current ones?
As the remaining supply dwindles, each decision to deploy the Tomahawk becomes more difficult for military commanders, all the way up to the commander in chief. What happens when the only acceptable response to a given situation requires the use of a highly effective, standoff weapon? If a cost-benefit calculation forestalls the use of Tomahawks, the U.S. is left without its best option. We should not put our military commanders and the commander in chief in that situation. All-or-nothing choices are likely to lead too often to doing nothing. Inaction in turn can contribute to our adversaries’ perception that we lack the will to engage, and our ability to deter our enemies suffers.
The current administration and Congress have put in place a substantial increase in military spending. The 2018 budget saw an increase of $61 billion over 2017, with an additional $16 billion planned for the 2019 budget. These plus-ups are sorely needed and are being deployed in positive ways, including increases in ballistic missile defense funding and the Navy’s shipbuilding budget. Assistant Secretary of the Navy James Geurts recently told Congress that under current plans and budget assumptions, the U.S. could go from a 282-ship Navy to a 355-ship Navy as early as the 2030s. This will increase the nation’s force projection capabilities and reinforce the U.S. conventional deterrent.
However, the lack of a flexible strike capability provided by the Tomahawk severely limits the deterrent benefit of additional ships. Adding ships without purchasing missiles is a bit like building tanks with no shells or sending infantry into combat with rifles, but no ammunition.
One Aegis destroyer and one Ohio-class submarine have the capacity to carry up to 250 cruise missiles combined. As new ships are put into the water ― and if the U.S. continues to utilize Tomahawks at historically average levels ― the U.S. Navy might need thousands of missiles over the next decade or more.
As Congress continues its work on the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act, it should reconsider ending the production of new Tomahawk cruise missiles. If it does not, we may one day find ourselves in a situation where we have the will to strike an adversary but lack the best means to do so.