Thursday, June 30, 2016

Indian Navy Inducts Indigenous Heavyweight Torpedo 'Varunastra'

Yashaswani Sehrawat, India Today
29 June 2016
The anti-submarine torpedo, which was showcased on the Republic Day Parade this year, has been developed by Naval Science and Technological Laboratory of the DRDO for the Indian
Indigenously developed heavyweight torpedo Varunastra, which was showcased for the first time on the Republic Day Parade at Rajpath this year, was inducted in the Indian Navy today.

Know Varunastra

The anti-submarine torpedo has been developed by Naval Science and Technological Laboratory of the DRDO for the Indian Navy.
Weighing around 1.25 tonnes, the torpedo carries about 250 kg of explosives at a speed of around 40 nautical miles an hour.
Defense Minister Manohar Parrikar, handing over the torpedo to the Indian Navy, asked the DRDO to do "hand-holding" for the Bharat Dynamics Limited (BDL) which will be manufacturing the torpedo. India is among a group of elite nations which have the capability.

It Will Be Exported Too

The Defense Minister pointed out that the heavyweight torpedo was being inducted in the navy a day before the first squadron of indigenous Light Combat Aircraft Tejas was to be inducted by the Indian Air Force.
The minister added that the government was looking forward to exporting the torpedo, and that he has already had a chat with the navy chief Admiral Sunil Lanba on this.
"I will also tell them their job is not over... They should ensure the product is of best international standards because not just Navy (will use them), we can export them. I have got a verbal clearance from navy chief too... He said there is no technological problem," Parrikar said, adding that the official procedures will be followed and stressed on quality control.

Huge Success

Project Director for Varunastra Torpedo P. Trimurthulu termed it a huge success for the team which had been working on the project for the past decade.
"For last 10 years, we have been working 20 hours a day. This is a big success for us," Trimurthulu told IANS.
"Handing over a weapon to the nation is a great achievement," he said.

Soon Will Be Fired From A Submarine

The project Director added that the torpedo, which
has already been test-fired from ships, will soon be fired from a submarine.
"We will soon be test-firing the torpedo from a submarine. Some minor modifications will be needed for that," he said.

Complete Projects Within Time

Navy Chief Admiral Sunil Lanba stressed on the need to tighten the time frame for completing projects.
"We need to move towards more reasonable time-frames for completing projects," Admiral Lanba said.

U.S. Navy developing 'supersonic submarines'

Theorists say such a submarine could cross the Pacific Ocean in 2 hours.

Mark Prigg, London Daily Mail
28 June 2016
As swimmers know, moving cleanly through the water can be a problem due to the huge amounts of drag created – and for submarines, this is even more of a problem.
However, U.S. Navy funded researchers say they have a simple solution – a bubble.
Researchers at Penn State Applied Research Laboratory are developing a new system using a technique called supercavitation.
The new idea is based on Soviet technology developed during the cold war.
Called supercavitation, it envelopes a submerged vessel inside an air bubble to avoid problems caused by water drag.
A Soviet supercavitation torpedo called Shakval was able to reach a speed of 370km/h or more – much faster than any other conventional torpedoes.
In theory, a supercavitating vessel could reach the speed of sound underwater, or about 5,800km/h.
This would reduce the journey time for a transatlantic underwater cruise to less than an hour, and for a transpacific journey to about 100 minutes, according to a report by California Institute of Technology in 2001.
However, the technique also results in a bumpy ride – something the new team has solved.
'Basically supercavitation is used to significantly reduce drag and increase the speed of bodies in water,' said Grant M. Skidmore, recent Penn State Ph.D. recipient in aerospace engineering.
'However, sometimes these bodies can get locked into a pulsating mode.'
To create the bubble around a vehicle, air is introduced in the front and expands back to encase the entire object.
However, sometimes the bubble will contract, allowing part of the vehicle to get wet.
The periodic expansion and contraction of the bubble is known as pulsation and might cause instability.
'Shrinking and expanding is not good,' said Timothy A. Brungart, senior research associate at ARL and associate professor of acoustics.
'We looked at the problem on paper first and then experimentally.'
The researchers first explored the problem analytically, which suggested a solution, but then verifying with an experiment was not simple.
The ideal outcome for supercavitation is that the gas bubble forms, encompasses the entire vehicle and exits behind, dissipating the bubble without pulsation.
The researchers report the results of their analytic analysis and experimentation online in the International journal of Multiphase Flow.
The ARL researchers decided to use the Garfield Thomas Water Tunnel facility's 12-inch diameter water tunnel to test their numerical calculations.
'The water tunnel was the easiest way to observe the experiment,' said Brungart. 'But not the easiest place to create the pulsation.'
Creating a supercavitation bubble and getting it to pulsate in order to stop the pulsations inside a rigid-walled water tunnel tube had not been done.
'Eventually we ramped up the gas really high and then way down to get pulsation,' said Jules W. Lindau, senior research associate at ARL and associate professor of aerospace engineering.
They found that once they had supercavitation with pulsation, they could moderate the air flow and, in some cases, stop pulsation.
'Supercavitation technology might eventually allow high speed underwater supercavitation transportation,' said Moeney.
China is also developing a 'supersonic' submarine that could travel from Shanghai to San Francisco in less than two hours.
Researchers say their new craft uses a radical new technique to create a 'bubble' to surround itself, cutting down drag dramatically.
In theory, the researchers say, a supercavitating vessel could reach the speed of sound underwater, or about 5,800km/h.
The technology was developed by a team of scientists at Harbin Institute of Technology's Complex Flow and Heat Transfer Lab.
Li Fengchen, professor of fluid machinery and engineering, told the South China Morning Post he was 'very excited by its potential'.
The new sub is based on Soviet technology developed during the cold war.
Called supercavitation, it envelopes a submerged vessel inside an air bubble to avoid problems caused by water drag.
A Soviet supercavitation torpedo called Shakval was able to reach a speed of 370km/h or more – much faster than any other conventional torpedoes.
In theory, a supercavitating vessel could reach the speed of sound underwater, or about 5,800km/h, which would reduce the journey time for a transatlantic underwater cruise to less than an hour, and for a transpacific journey to about 100 minutes, according to a report by California Institute of
Technology in 2001.
The Chinese system constantly 'showers' a special liquid membrane on its own surface.
Although this membrane would be worn off by water, in the meantime it could significantly reduce the water drag on the vessel at low speed.
After its speed had reached 75km/h or more the vessel would enter the supercavitation state, Li said.
However, Li admitted problems still needed to be solved before supersonic submarine travel became feasible.
A powerful underwater rocket engine still needs to
be developed.
The technique could even be used to aid swimmers, he believes.
'If a swimsuit can create and hold many tiny bubbles in water, it can significantly reduce the water drag; swimming in water could be as effortless as flying in the sky,' he said.

Subs For Recycling Stacking Up At Shipyard

Ed Friedrich, Kitsap Sun
28 June 2016

BREMERTON – Los Angeles-class fast attack submarines are piling up at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard.
In a recent 10-day stretch, three arrived at the only place the Navy recycles them. The USS Houston, USS City of Corpus Christi and ex-Norfolk joined 11 others waiting to be scrapped or in the process. (Ships become exes after their fuel is removed, and they're decommissioned.)
Sixty-two Los Angeles-class boats were built between 1971 and 1996. Fourteen are here, including two hulls now undergoing recycling and two to begin in July.
Nine have already been scrapped and 39 remain active.
They're being replaced by Virginia-class subs, at the rate of about one per year. Forty-eight Virginias are planned.
Twelve have been produced.
Since being assigned the responsibility in the late 1980s of dismantling the Navy's nuclear ships, the shipyard has recycled eight cruisers, 60 fast attack subs and 28 ballistic missile subs.
Spent nuclear fuel is shipped by rail to the Idaho National Laboratory near Idaho Falls, where it's stored in special containers. Empty reactor compartments are shipped by barge to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation, where they're buried. What's left is cut up and recycled.
Moored with the Los Angeles-class boats are two unique submarines and a cruiser.
The ex-USS Narwhal is a one-of-a-kind vessel commissioned in 1969. It was the quietest submarine of its era and featured many innovations. Little is publicly known of its operations, except that it received a Navy Unit
Commendation and four Meritorious Unit Commendations for them.
It entered the recycling program in October 2001. Over the next five years, efforts were to made to make the Narwhal the centerpiece of a planned National Submarine Science Discovery Center in Newport, Kentucky, but fundraising fell short.
Another one-of-a-kind boat is the naval research vessel ex-NR-1. With a crew of just 13, it was the smallest nuclear submarine to ever operate. It could dive deeper than any other. When it reached the ocean floor, it could roll on wheels with lights illuminating the depths outside its windows.
Launched in 1969, it was primarily a research vessel but also carried out military missions that remain under wraps. It was never officially named or commissioned. It was deactivated in 2008, de-fueled and sent to PSNS to be scrapped.
De-fueled, inactivated ships are stored at the shipyard's Mooring A. They begin the recycling process at Pier 7 before completing it in drydock.

Monday, June 27, 2016

Russia, China or Iran Vs. U.S. Navy: Who Wins?

Dave Majumdar, The National Interest
25 June 2016

The capability risks that the United States Navy took in the immediate aftermath of the Cold War are coming back to haunt the service as Russia, China and Iran seek to challenge American forces at sea. Increasingly, rival powers are challenging American sea control – something that the U.S. Navy has not encountered since the implosion of the once mighty Soviet Navy in 1991.

“Their operational approach, Russia, China, Iran certainly, is to deny us sea control,” Admiral Philip S. Davidson, commander of U.S. Navy Fleet Forces Command told an audience at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, D.C., on June 24. “It’s to let us know the last decade – that aberration – that we would not go unchallenged in the maritime domain. That is one of the areas in which we took risk in the last decade.”

The United States Navy also took risks in electronic warfare, anti-submarine warfare, over-the-horizon targeting and strike in order to conduct the various other tasks assigned to it. “So we have to restore those skills to the fleet,” Davidson said.

But while the U.S. Navy has to restore its capabilities to fight a war at sea, the service has some built-in advantages that it has invested in over the past decade. Chief among those is the Naval Integrated Fire Control battle network that allows the service aircraft, ships and other assets to share information and targeting data – and to act as a coherent whole. Moreover, NIFC allows the service to distribute its firepower among a much wider number of platforms – which is a huge advantage. “That capability has revealed itself over the last 15 years with ballistic missile defense,” Davidson said. “The whole is greater than the sum of its parts.”

Another major advantage is the Navy’s dominance of the underwater domain. While the Navy’s attack submarine fleet is woefully short on boats, the service’s Virginia and Seawolf-class vessels are the most advanced in the world – though the Russians, albeit lacking in numbers, are not very far behind. Moreover, the Navy has a host of other sensors and processing capabilities to maintain awareness. And, according to the Admiral, the potential exists to link submarine into an integrated fire control network. “It’s our ability to exploit the undersea domain and to dominate the undersea domain,” Davidson said. “That’s not to say it’s all about submarines, it’s also about our ability to sense, do big data processing and exploit the undersea domain.”

The U.S. Navy’s forces are also inherently modular – the service can mix and match its forces as needed for a particular task. The carrier air wing, for example, has changed over the past 15 years and will be reconfigured in the future as new threats arise, Davidson said. On the surface, the vertical launch tubes and mission bays afford warships like the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer and the Littoral Combat Ship flexibility, he added. Indeed, the mission bays on the LCS will afford the Navy the ability to deploy unmanned systems, he said.

Thus, while the Navy has to work to regain its high-end warfighting skills, the underlying potential is still there.

NUCLEAR SIGNAL: British submarine sent to Gibraltar message to Spain over sovereignty

Laurence Dollimore, The Olive Press
27 June 2016

THE UK sent a nuclear submarine to Gibraltar yesterday in a show of force against Spain.

The move was seen as a response to the Spanish who, emboldened by the shock Brexit result, had demanded joint sovereignty over the Rock on the very same day.

It was Spain’s Foreign Minister Jose Manuel Garcia-Margallo who said Brexit meant a “complete change of outlook” over the ‘disputed’ territory.

Mr Garcia-Margallo said: “It’s a complete change of outlook that opens up new possibilities on Gibraltar not seen for a very long time.

“I hope the formula of co-sovereignty – to be clear, the Spanish flag on the Rock – is much closer than before.”

Mere hours later, the attack submarine HMS Ambush, armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles, arrived at Gibraltar’s naval port.

Insiders said the arrival sent a clear signal that the UK will never negotiate the Rock’s sovereignty.

A source said: “The timing could not be better, the people of Gibraltar are being a sent a clear message of reassurance.

“There will be no discussion on joint sovereignty – the UK Government has made that clear.”

While the visit had long been planned, Navy insiders reportedly said the timing proved ‘interesting’.

Benedict: Life Extension for Trident II Missile 'is Essential'

Otto Kreisher, Seapower Magazine
24 June 2016

WASHINGTON — While the Navy’s top acquisition program is a replacement for the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, the admiral responsible for the Navy’s strategic systems said June 24 that his top priority is extending the service life of the Trident II missiles that arm the Ohios and will go into the first of their replacements.

The Trident II D5 missiles also are deployed in Great Britain’s Vanguard strategic submarines and will continue to arm their replacement, Vice Adm. Terry Benedict said during an Air Force Association breakfast June 24.

“The Trident was planned originally for a service life of only 25 years. However, it will serve throughout the remaining service life of the Ohio and Vanguard classes, and it will be the initial on-load of the Ohio replacement and [Vanguard] successor submarines,” taking it “long beyond its original service life,” Benedict, director of Strategic Systems Programs, said.

Life extension therefore “is essential to ensuring that the Trident remains the successful sea-based deterrent that it has been since the early ‘90s,” he told a forum on strategic deterrence.

Prolonging the operational life of the D5 requires upgrading or replacing all the strategic weapon systems and subsystems, including launchers, the navigation, fire control and guidance electronics and the W88 nuclear warheads in the Trident’s re-entry vehicles, he explained.

The continued reliability and accuracy of the updated missiles is being tested in an extensive schedule of flight tests that will total 14 shots over 18 months, in preparation for a planned initial operational capability in fiscal 2017, he said.

Benedict is part of the Navy team working to plan and then produce the replacements for the Ohio strategic deterrence submarines, which will begin to retire in 2029. The other team members are the program executive office submarines, which heads the overall design effort, and Naval Nuclear Reactors, which is developing the nuclear power

plant that is expected to last the entire service life of the new boat.

The admiral said his primary responsibility for the Ohio replacement was the middle section, which includes the common missile compartment (CMC) and the other strategic systems.

The CMC, which will have 16 missile tubes and the monitoring and control systems, also will go into the Vanguard replacements. The two navies worked closely to design the compartment and in a “truly unique” arrangement, each country will produce the CMCs it needs in its own shipyard, Benedict said.

Construction of the first 15 US missile tubes began in 2015, and the Navy is about to let a contract for the next 30, he said.

To reduce the technical risk for both the U.S. and U.K. programs, SSP is leading the development of the Strategic Weapons System Ashore integration and test site at Cape Canaveral, Fla., Benedict said.

The admiral praised the Navy’s historic cooperation on the strategic submarine programs with the British, and said that relationship would not be affected by Great Britain’s vote Thursday to “exit” the European Union.

Benedict said that based on a telephone exchange he had that morning with his Royal Navy counterpart, “I have no concern.” The Brexit vote “was a decision based on its relationship with Europe, not with us. I see yesterday’s vote having no effect.”

While concentrating on the service life extension of the Tridents, Benedict said his office also is beginning work on a new strategic missile to replace them sometime in the future. In that effort, he has been cooperating with the Air Force, which is actively seeking a replacement for its Minuteman III ground-based strategic missiles. That effort appears to be focused mainly on finding as many common subsystems as possible to help both services save money.

While expressing his support for all three legs of the nuclear deterrent Triad, which also includes the Air Force strategic bombers, Benedict noted that the Navy not only provides the “most survivable” leg, but is responsible for 70 percent of the deployed nuclear warheads under the 2010 New Start Treaty with Russia that limits each nation to 1,550 deployable warheads.

Saturday, June 25, 2016

The Tragedy of the Kursk Submarine

Nikola Budanovic, War History Online
23 June 2016
The Kursk submarine disaster was the largest naval tragedy ever to happen in the Russian Federation during peacetime.  The country had been experiencing a lot of political turmoil in the 90s following the collapse of the Soviet Union, and it now entered the new millennium rather tragically.
The Oscar-class, nuclear-powered submarine Kursk (K-141), named after the location of the famous WWII tank battle, sank on 12th of August, 2000, in the Barents Sea in northern Russia, claiming the lives of 118 men. The entire crew of the Kursk died on the bottom of the sea, mostly due to the lack of safety measures aboard and the utter lack of preparation for emergency situations by the authorities.
The disaster occurred during a large naval exercise conducted by the Russian Navy. It was the first major exercise in 10 years and an opportunity to prove that the successor of the Soviet Army is capable of responding to potential threats. The exercise included 30 ships and three submarines. Although it is not usual for submarines to carry combat weapons during such training, Kursk was armed with 18 anti-ship torpedoes and 22 cruise missiles.
The sailors aboard the Kursk were recognized as the best crew of the North Fleet for their conduct just before the accident. The submarine itself was considered unsinkable and capable of withstanding a direct torpedo hit.  It was claimed that Kursk was capable of confronting entire formations of US aircraft carriers.
Apparently, one of the torpedoes aboard the Kursk was damaged during transport and it was leaking fuel. It is possible that the damage occurred during transport, as several sources later claimed that they witnessed when the torpedo was dropped on the ground. Nevertheless, it was loaded on the submarine. This particular torpedo wasn’t armed with warheads and the inspection gave it little attention, but noticed the leakage.
The officers neglected the malfunction, for the exercise was a top priority and it had to be conducted on schedule. The military high command had long before been involved in corruption scandals, often neglecting the malfunctioning equipment in the Russian Army. The faith of the sailors was thus sealed.
The fuel leakage led to the initial explosion. Two minutes and 14 seconds after the first explosion in the torpedo compartment, the fire it triggered set off a second explosion of five to seven combat-ready torpedo warheads.
The seismic readings of the explosions were first caught by a Norwegian seismic array at 11:29h on Saturday, 12th of August, 2000. The Russian command lost contact with the Kursk after the explosions took place, but didn’t even acknowledge that the submarine suffered an accident for six hours. After it became obvious that something was wrong, a rescue operation was organized, failing to locate the submarine during the first day.
Meanwhile, Kremlin was informed of the event the day after it occurred. Vladimir Putin, who was in his first year of presidency, was assured that the exercise was going as planned even while the search was authorized. On Sunday, 13th of August, the Army officials tried to conceal the accident, giving a statement to the media that the exercise was conducted superbly, with the exception of the Kursk as it suffered “minor technical difficulties”. At this time, the Navy knew that the submarine was lost, but feared to give any pieces of information about it, since they themselves knew little.
But the families of the missing men were already worried. None of them had called home, and a chilling feeling resonated around the Vidyaevo Naval Base, which was the home of the men aboard the Kursk. Several misleading stories about a temporary communication breakdown were offered to the families, but none of those seemed plausible. It was obvious that something was going on beneath the surface.
The Kursk was slowly turning into an international scandal. Since the Norwegians picked up the readings that clearly indicated that an underwater explosion took place in the Barents Sea, the British government alongside with the USA, Norway, Israel, France, Germany, and Italy offered help, but the Russians dismissed the offer, claiming that a rescue operation was well under way and that everything was under control.
Somebody within the government made claims that the Kursk was badly damaged due to a collision with a NATO submarine, which turned out to be a complete act of paranoia. Nevertheless, this claim fueled the Russian stand to refuse any foreign assistance.
On Monday, 14th of August, an official statement was given. The Navy told the press that the submarine had “descended to the ocean floor,” that they had established contact with the crew, were pumping air and power to the ship, and that “everyone on board is alive.”
The pressure was rising, as the Russian government continued to mislead the public. Four days after the accident some of the Navy officials claimed that the Kursk was damaged after it hit an old underwater mine that dated from the WWII era.
The public was furious. Family members of the crew protested, asking for additional information, as they were given next to none. Some of the family members weren’t notified by the authorities at all and learned everything about their husbands, sons and brothers fate through the newspapers.
Meanwhile, all rescue attempts failed to due to bad weather conditions and inappropriate equipment. British and Norwegian divers finally gained authorization to help with the rescue mission but were given many restrictions. The Russians still feared to let the foreigners go near the submarine. They were extremely cautious concerning the Kursk, for it represented the pinnacle of Soviet engineering.
After the international team had inspected the wreck, they learned of the first casualties. The explosions killed most of the men aboard, but 23 sailors survived. Due to the slow reaction by the authorities, the men slowly suffocated as the oxygen reserves were depleted.
It was time to come out with the truth. On August 21st, the Chief of Staff of the Russian Northern Fleet, Mikhail Motsak, announced to the public that the Kursk had flooded and the crew was dead. The next day, President Putin met with the families of the dead sailors and officers.
During the meeting, Nadezhda Tylik, the mother of Kursk submariner Lt. Sergei Tylik, was extremely emotional and interrupted the meeting. She shouted at the President and was forcibly restrained. This scandal echoed around the world, emphasizing the tragedy that claimed the lives of 118 men.
The Russian government committed to raising the wreck in a US$65M salvage operation. They contracted with the Dutch marine salvage companies Smit International and Mammoet to raise the Kursk from the sea floor. It became the largest salvage operation of its type ever accomplished
On 8 October 2001, fourteen months after the disaster, and only five months after the contract had been awarded to them, the salvage team raised the remainder of the ship in a 15-hour operation. Once the sub was raised and joined to the barge, it was carried back under the barge to the Russian Navy’s Roslyakovo Shipyard in Murmansk.
In Murmansk the Kursk was moved into a drydock, then the hull of the ship was gradually opened and the bodies of all but three of the 118 personnel on board were recovered. Those three were so badly destroyed by the blast and fire that their bodies could not be identified or recovered.

Chinese navy offers glimpse of secretive nuclear-attack submarine

Douglas Ernst, The Washington Times
23 June 2016
China’s navy has allowed the world a brief glimpse of one of its most secretive military platforms ever — the 093B “Shang” nuclear attack submarine.
An official image of the communist nation’s stealth submarine was released this month, which gives experts the ability to see how it compares to older models. The picture was released just weeks after the Pentagon published its annual report on the military might of the People's Republic
of China.
“The biggest [improvement] is the installation of a vertical launch system battery behind the conning tower, which can be seen in a hydrodynamic hump blended into the hull,” Popular Science first reported Thursday. “The VLS cell gives the Type 093B an advantage over older Chinese attack submarines since instead of launching cruise missiles from
the torpedo tubes, it can more quickly launch
missiles from the VLS. The larger size of VLS cells also makes them a good place to launch future underwater robots and UAVs.”
Aspects of the submarine that are similar to the American Virginia class SSN include its conned tower and flared base. The website surmised that its base will reduce hydrodynamic drag and noise at certain speeds.
“There are also large installation mounts on the hull sides for side-mounted active sonar that will sweep for both surface warships and submarines,” the website reported.
Chinese officials were furious last month when the Pentagon released a 156-page report detailing Beijing’s military spending, its various weapons platforms, and activities in the contested waters of the South China Sea.
“China demonstrated a willingness to tolerate higher levels of tension in the pursuit of its interests, especially in pursuit of its territorial claims in the East and South China Sea; however, China still seeks to avoid direct and explicit conflict with the United States,” the report said. “In the long term, Chinese leaders are focused on developing the capabilities they deem necessary to deter or defeat adversary
power projection and counter third-party — including U.S. — intervention during crisis or conflict. China’s modernization is producing capabilities that have the potential to reduce core
U.S. military technological advantages.”
China’s Defense Ministry spokesman Yang Yujun told state news agency Xinhua on May 15 that the U.S. report “severely damaged mutual trust” between the two nations.
Mr. Yang also called the report “deliberately
Experts estimate China’s military spending in 2015 was roughly $145 billion.

The US Navy Could Turn the Littoral Combat Ship into a Submarine Killer

KrisOsborn,National Interest
23 June 2016
The Navy is developing lighter-weight anti-submarine designed to better enable its Littoral Combat Ship to track, locate and destroy enemy submarines – all while recognizing potential rival such as Russia and China continue to rapidly develop new submarine weapons and technologies.
The idea is to harness lighter Variable Depth Sonar and AN/SQR-20 Multi-Function Towed Array systems, along with other anti-submarine technologies, and enable the LCS to receive acoustic signals or “pings” from enemy subs in different maritime conditions and at greater distances.
“We were able to get submarine detections at long ranges,” Capt. Casey Moton, LCS Mission Module Program Manager said in an interview with Scout Warrior.
As part of the effort, the service has been searching
for mock-enemy submarines off the coast of California with its USS Freedom boat, or LCS 1. The Navy has awarded three developmental contracts to industry as part of this initiative to engineer more effective and functional systems for the LCS.
“We will go forward with one, two or three of them, do additional design work and then based on that effort we are going to build an engineering development model and also have the weight reduction. The plan right now it we'll start testing at the end of 17 and go into operational testing and IOC (Initial Operating Capability) in 2018,” Moton added.
 The Variable Depth Sonar, VDS, and Multi-
Function Towed Array, MFTA, scan the undersea domain
searching for acoustic signals and frequencies consistent with an enemy submarine; information is then related back up to an on-board LCS command center.
“They listen for a continuos active ping. Then you wait for a period of time and there is another ping. This enables us to track the submarine and we get that energy back on the passive towed array. That system was very effective for long range submarine detection,” Moton added.
(This first appeared in Scout Warrior.)
 Lighter weight submarine hunting elements are of particular importance to the LCS – as the ship relies upon speed and maneuverability for increased combat performance. Greater agility naturally enable the ship to use its speed of 40-knots to avoid incoming enemy fire or more quickly position itself to attack enemy locations.
The Variable Depth Sonar is engineered to travel beneath a thermal layer in the ocean where the temperature stops changing – the layer can act as an acoustic boundary, Moton described.
 “If you have a sonar above that layer, it can be hard to get that sonar into other parts of the water. Variable Depth Sonar allows us to put the submarine shallow above the layer or below the layer - we can put the sonar below the layer,” Moton explained.
The LCS’ anti-submarine mission package also includes an MH-60 sub-hunting helicopter equipped with lightweight torpedoes and sonobuoys to search for acoustic signals from enemy submarines.
The anti-submarine package makes use of a helicopter-like vertical take-off-and-landing drone able to scan the ocean for enemy activity and send back real-time video images through a data-link.
Ultimately, the Navy plans to replace current commercial off-the-shelf VDS and MFTA systems with lighter-weight developmental models, Moton added.
“We are making an improvement in how we operate our sonar. Signals will be received by the towed array, data
will be given to a helicopter and then the helicopter will fly out and use its own sonar and sonobuoys to locate a submarine and drop a weapon,” Moton said.
An advanced computer system on board the LCS is designed to integrate incoming sonar and targeting information from underwater assets and helicopters, helping to acquire and relay combat relevant data.
As part of this effort the LCS is connected via a data link to the Navy’s P-8 sub-hunting aircraft.
“We are going to put the LCS out with the package including two sonars and passive towed array working together. The ship will have a helicopter on board with torpedoes and the ship will have a torpedo counter measure system,” Moton said. “The helicopter will either be airborne or it will know where the submarine is based on the LCS sonar detection.”
This anti-submarine developmental effort is progressing concurrently alongside a broader effort to up-gun the LCS with improved weapons and survivability technology. The idea is to better enable a littoral vessel such as the LCS to perform missions in higher-threat environments – while being less vulnerable to attacks from enemy submarines. Longer range, more high-tech sonar on board and LCS could enable the ship to locate, and potentially avoid, the weapons range or envelope of enemy subs.
This ability is increasingly important in light of high-tension areas such as the South China Sea where there are numerous island coastal areas with shallow water. Furthermore, advances in submarine quieting technologies are increasingly making them harder to detect.