Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Russia unveils new ‘Husky’ submarine with potential to supersonic missiles

Staff, Al Masdar News
22 May 2018

RUSSIA — The conceptual design of the fifth generation Husky submarine has been completed, while the tactical and technical characteristics are being developed, said the head of the United Shipbuilding Corporation, Alexei Rakhmanov.
“We have already completed the conceptual design of the perspective submarine of the fifth generation ‘Husky’, as well as the definition of its appearance. Several variants have been proposed, now we have to choose the optimal one from them,” he said in an interview with the Izvestia newspaper.
“Now the development of the tactical and technical characteristics of the new boat is underway. Further information about the Husky is still a military secret,” Rakhmanov added.
As previously reported, there is little open information about multi-purpose nuclear submarines of the fifth generation of the Husky project.
It is known that this submarine will carry a promising missile system with the supersonic cruise missiles “Zircon”, first mentioned in the media in February 2011.
The presumable designation of the RK is 3K-22, and the missile itself is 3M22.
As the deputy commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy for armament Viktor Bursuk stated earlier, the construction of the Haski submarine will be laid in the state armament program for 2018-2025.

What the Arrival of Indonesia’s Second South Korea-Built Submarine Means

Prashanth Parameswaran, The Diplomat
19 May 2018

INDONESIA — On May 17, Indonesia officially witnessed the arrival of the second of three submarines it had ordered from South Korea. The development put the spotlight on Indonesia’s submarine fleet as well as its relationship with Seoul in the defense realm more generally.
As I have noted before in these pages, though Indonesia once operated one of the more capable submarine forces in Asia, today it is woefully underequipped, with just two German-built Type 209 submarines along with the start of gradual integration of three South Korean submarines initially ordered back in 2012. With respect to the submarines from South Korea, one of them was received from Seoul last year, another was set for delivery this year, and the remaining one was set to be constructed in Indonesia in line with the country’s focus on strengthening its domestic defense industry (See: “Indonesia Spotlights Defense Industry Challenge Under Jokowi”).
This week, the second of those submarines finally arrived in Surabaya after traveling for nearly three weeks across the sea from South Korea. The submarine, which will be known as KRI Ardadedali (pennant number 404) once in service, was received by Indonesian officials including the secretary-general of Indonesia’s defense ministry and the navy chief.
The arrival of the second South Korean-built submarine marks the conclusion of a longer delivery process that has been in the works over the past month or so. Indeed, Indonesia had already technically officially received the submarine with a delivery ceremony held on April 25 at the DSME facility in Okpo featuring top Indonesian defense officials including Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu. At the time, it was confirmed that the delivery process would end once the submarine completed its journey from South Korea back home to Indonesia after a few weeks.
Beyond the completion of the delivery process itself, the arrival of the submarine also constitutes a modest and planned addition for Indonesia’s limited submarine capabilities. As I have noted previously it is worth recalling that even with all three of its South Korean submarines, with Indonesia’s Type 209s expected to be decommissioned soon, Jakarta would still be well short of the 12 submarines Indonesian defense officials have themselves said the country needs to police its waters. Though new purchases are being mulled, it is clear that movement has been much slower than it should be.
Finally, the submarine’s arrival also constitutes another step in the realm of South Korea-Indonesia defense cooperation more broadly. Indonesia is already among the biggest importers of South Korean defense equipment, and bilateral collaboration has been focused on projects such as submarines and the joint development of the new KF-X/IF-X fighter aircraft (See: “What’s Next for Indonesia-South Korea Defense Ties?”). Though some elements of that cooperation have run into familiar challenges, both sides have continued exploring areas in this realm as well including during South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s visit to Jakarta last November, from new mechanisms such as a two-plus-two meeting to boosting cooperation in cybersecurity and counterterrorism.

India Gets New Nuclear Submarine Missiles, Joining Only Russia, China, U.S. and France

Tom O’Connor, Newsweek
17 May 2018

India has equipped its latest nuclear-powered submarine with a new nuclear-capable missile that can hit targets up to 435 miles away, a capability enjoyed by only four other countries on Earth.
Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman announced the military's feat during the annual Defence Research Development Organisation award ceremony Monday in New Delhi, where she recognized scientists A. Joseph and M. Ugender Reddy for their role in developing the K-15 Sagarika, also known as B-05. Sitharaman revealed that the advanced missile was officially put into service with the INS Arihant nuclear submarine.
"It is an indigenous missile with several innovative designs and a unique mechanism. Numerous critical technologies were proved in the successful trials, which paved the way for developing other long-range strategic missiles and has the potential to be launched from submarine, ship, and land," the award citation read, according to India's Zee News.
Only four other countries in the world have submarine-launched-nuclear missiles with such a range: the U.S., Russia, China and France, which—unlike India—does not have an air, land and sea nuclear triad. India is also one of only nine nations believed to possess nuclear weapons, with an arsenal estimated to be smaller than that of Russia, the U.S., France, China, the U.K. and Pakistan, but larger than that of Israel and North Korea. Like Pakistan, Israel and North Korea, India is not a member of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons.
The K-15 Sagarika was first tested off the waters of the Indian city of Visakhapatnam in January 2013 and the Arihant entered service in 2016. The submarine is the lead ship of an entire fleet of nuclear-powered submarines being developed for the Indian navy.
A comprehensive Asia Power Index released last week by the Lowy Institute ranked India as fourth in a list of 25 regional actors, falling behind only the U.S, China and Japan. The accompanying report described India as "a giant of the future" due to its massive resources and quickly growing economy. India ranked fourth in defense spending with $48.4 billion and secured first place for the size, readiness and organization of its armed forces.
India's military buildup is largely inspired by nuclear-armed neighbors Pakistan and China, who themselves have pursued closer ties in recent years. In 2007, India became the fourth country—after the U.S., Russia and Israel—to develop a ballistic missile defense system and, that same year, announced plans to pursue a nuclear missile shield that has been likened to former President Ronald Reagan's Cold War-era "Star Wars" plan. In December, India tested its multi-layered, anti-missile system.

Russia Launches New Generation Unmanned Submarine Tests

16 May 2018

Klavesin-2R unmanned vehicle can be used for exploration work, study of objects on the seabed, topographical survey and mapping of the marine relief.
Tests of the Russian submersible drone Klavesin-2R began at a maritime polygon in the Crimea, reports the Izvestiya newspaper.
In addition, the experimental ship Viktor Cherokov of project 20360OC, recently transferred to the Black Sea Fleet, is participating in the trials near the Russian city of Theodosia.
The Klavesin-2R belongs to the second generation of unmanned underwater vehicles. The equipment received the 2R52 index, indicating its high availability for adoption in service, according to the newspaper article.
“On the outside, the Klavesin-2R looks like a miniature submarine about 7 meters long and 1 meter in diameter. The weight of the submersible is about 4 tons and its immersion capacity is up to 6,000 meters deep.”
This submarine drone can be used for exploration tasks, topographical survey, seabed mapping, among others. For this purpose, the submersible is equipped with lateral acoustic radars, electromagnetic locators, digital video systems, acoustic profiles to search for objects in the seabed, temperature sensors and electrical conductivity.

Meet HMS Agincourt, the new Astute class nuclear submarine

 George Allison,
16 May 2018

HMS Agincourt and her Astute class sisters are the largest, most advanced and most powerful attack submarines ever operated by the Royal Navy, combining world leading sensors, design and weaponry in a versatile vessel.
Confirmation of the build of the seventh Astute class nuclear submarine, HMS Agincourt, and a £2.5 billion pounds investment was announced earlier today.
Agincourt will have provision for up-to 38 weapons in six 21-inch torpedo tubes. The submarine will be capable of using Tomahawk Block IV land-attack missiles with a range of 1,000 miles and Spearfish heavyweight torpedoes.
For detecting enemy ships and submarines, the Astute class are equipped with the sophisticated Sonar 2076, an integrated passive/active search and attack sonar suite with bow, intercept, flank and towed arrays. BAE claims that the 2076 is the world’s best sonar system. All of the Astute-class submarines will be fitted with the advanced Common Combat System.
The manufacturer say that no other attack submarine is as technologically advanced. In the words of BAE, the Astute class is “designed and engineered to be the stealthiest submarine of her type, equipped with the latest and most powerful sonar suite and secure communications facilities, while exhibiting a low noise signature and optimum detection avoidance characteristics”.
The seven Astute class nuclear powered submarines will have the capability to circumnavigate the globe without surfacing, limited only by their food storage capacity. Able to deploy rapidly, they are powered by a nuclear reactor that can run for their 25 year lifespan without refuelling.
Courtesy of BAE, we’ve also been able to publish an interesting list of trivia. Did you know…
Astute class submarines are the UK’s largest and most powerful attack submarines and can strike at targets up to 1,000km from the coast with pin-point accuracy.
Astute submarines are the first nuclear submarines to be designed entirely in a three-dimensional, computer-aided environment.
Design and construction of an Astute submarine has been described as ‘more complex than that of the space shuttle.’
If the cables on board an Astute Submarine were laid out end-to-end, they would stretch from Barrow to Preston.
An Astute submarine’s 90-day dived endurance is only limited by the amount of food that can be carried and the endurance of the crew.
Astute submarines are the first Royal Navy Submarine not to be fitted with optical periscopes – instead the vessel employs high specification video technology.
Astute submarines will be the quietest ever operated by the Royal Navy.
The Devonshire Dock Hall is BAE Systems Maritime-Submarines main build facility, standing 51m high, 58m wide and 260m long.
The first submarine for the Royal Navy was built in Barrow, and every submarine currently in service was also built there, Holland 1.
Astute class submarines are designed not to require refuelling throughout her projected 25-year life.
10-week patrol the 98-strong crew of a Astute will get through (on average): 18,000 sausages and 4,200 Weetabix for breakfast.

NUWC Newport engineer issues a machine learning challenge, nets two winning ideas

NUWC Public Affairs, NAVSEA
16 May 2018 
NEWPORT, R.I. — Twenty years ago Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport engineer Gary Huntress came across a technical challenge he felt he just had to try. Entrants were tasked with identifying the call sign of a very weak EME (earth-moon-earth) Morse code signal in a zipped 1 minute .wav file. Using MatLab as the primary analysis tool, Huntress became the first person to solve the problem in the contest’s two-year history – and as an added bonus, nabbed the $100 prize in the process.
Reflecting on his experience with the challenge and interest in machine learning, Huntress recently issued a contest of his own to the NUWC Newport Machine Learning Community of Interest.
“A year and a half ago thereabouts I got started with the whole big topic of machine learning,” Huntress said. “I got excited about it and NUWC’s chief technology officer suggested, then endorsed, having a machine learning community of interest and we’ve been having it ever since.
“The intent is to get people excited about the topic and one of the ways that I thought that we could do it is by having a contest.”
The challenge – for those with the expertise – was simple enough: Utilizing your own time and resources, write an image classifier that could distinguish cruise ships from merchant vessels.
Developing a truly effective image classifier was where the difficulty resided, yet in the end Huntress received two submissions that he felt were equally successful and elected to award both Caleb Martin and Robert Bretz $100 each.
“I really loosely defined the ‘expectations’ to leave it open for whatever they produced, and I was really happy with the two submissions. They both worked great,” Huntress said. “The only outcome I was hoping for is that I would learn something and they would learn something and find it interesting – whoever participated, because I had no idea who would.”
As explained by Martin, Bretz and Huntress, machine learning is a data-centric way of computing what is different than the way it has been done for the previous 50 years. Machine learning uses very complicated optimization schemes and curve-fitting routines to go into the raw data to solve the problem.
For image classification, Huntress used the example of classifying what is a cat.
“The traditional way would be someone with domain knowledge would say, ‘cats have ears, I’ll detect ears; cats have eyes, I’ll figure out how to detect eyes.’ Pre-defined fragile features that you lovingly handcraft,” Huntress said. “The new way is to let the machine learning algorithm figure out what features are important.”
According to Martin, about 10 years ago the problem presented by Huntress would not have been computationally solvable.
“It would be just find a bunch of interns, who would go through the images one by one because there was no way of automating that process,” Martin said. “Now, that’s a fairly trivial problem. It’s because we have a better understanding of how do you differentiate that from raw data.”
That said, Huntress’ challenge certainly had its fair share of obstacles. In order to solve a machine learning problem, the basic steps are to collect all the data, clean it up, try your initial model and then tweak the model until it is optimally efficient.
Once Bretz and Martin were satisfied with the search parameters of their neural network, each came to a similar point of variability in the problem.
“What is a merchant ship?” Bretz said. “That was kind of a data science problem.”
For both Bretz and Martin, determining pictures of cruise ships was not as much of an issue, as what they look like is fairly defined.
“It’s a much easier problem to compare two very specific things and then your model can fairly quickly pick up features that will be present in one and not the other, and then use that to divide the two classes,” Martin said. “If your classes are just something vs. a vaguer collection of not that something it’s much harder.
“I tried a few things and I eventually settled on my one class being pictures of cruise ships and my other class being pictures of container ships, oil tankers and freighters as reasonable representation of merchant ships.”
Bretz had a similar classification of merchant ships, but also included roll-on-roll-off ships in his data set. Where the true challenge came into play was in refining their
models – eliminating or adding ships for a number of reasons, including color and shape.
“The first time I ran it, it was better than random. You know you’re on the right track when it’s better than flipping a coin. I ran it first, and it was 70 or 75 percent and was like, alright, now let’s figure out why it’s not 95 percent,” Bretz said. “I started tweaking it and I really had a hard time getting over the 93 to 94 percent rate. I just don’t think with what I was working with that I could have done better than that.
“Basically, I hit 90 percent in the first several minutes of tweaking and then it took the rest of my time that I was working on it. From 75 to 90 percent took probably less time than from 90 percent to 92 percent.”
Both Martin and Bretz said the $100 prize was nice and would be put toward other side-projects on which they are working, but it was not their motivation for the challenge.
“Machine learning has been sort of a casual hobby/side interest of mine for probably two or three years now and I’ve been slowly trying to shoehorn it into my work,” Martin said. “It’s tough because I’m an S&T person here, which means all of my time needs to be devoted to projects that I am funded to do. I can’t just spend half of my day playing around. That’s what I do at home.
“If this leads to increased visibility and being one of the POCs for this kind of stuff that would be great. That’s where I’m looking for this to go.”
While Bretz does not have quite the same experience in machine learning as Huntress and Martin, all three are hoping to raise the profile of the technique and see how it could be applicable to their work at NUWC Newport.
All three also noted that application of machine learning could be years – if not decades – away, but could have relevant uses with unmanned undersea vehicles (UUVs), sonar or tactical simulations.
“We have to resist throwing machine learning at our absolute hardest problem right now and then saying, ‘Oh, it doesn’t work,’” Huntress said. “We need to consider the path over the next five years. What’s beyond the next baby step?”

In 1970, a Russian Atomic Submarine Sank. It Was Armed with Nuclear Weapons.

Robery Farley, National
16 May 2016 
The Soviet Navy (which did not have much interest in the strategic mission at that point) reconfigured the 627 class for a more conventional anti-ship role. Despite their noisiness, the Novembers had the range to threaten NATO surface vessels, especially transport convoys. A small number of nuclear torpedoes (configured with smaller warheads compatible with conventional torpedoes) could wreak havoc on such a convoy, despite the likely loss of the sub to any surviving escorts. The 627s were never regarded as particularly effective sub hunters, in part because they were louder than any foreign contemporaries, and in part because of deficient sonar technology.
The Bay of Biscay is one of the world’s great submarine graveyards. In late World War II, British and American aircraft sank nearly seventy German U-boats in the Bay, which joined a handful of Allied and German subs sunk in the region during World War I. On April 12, 1970, a Soviet submarine found the same resting place. Unlike the others, however, K-8 was propelled by two nuclear reactors, and carried four torpedoes tipped by nuclear warheads.
The Novembers (627): The November (Type 627) class was the Soviet Union’s first effort at developing nuclear attack submarines. The 627s were rough contemporaries of the Skate and Skipjack class attack boats of the U.S. Navy (USN), although they were somewhat larger and generally less well-arranged. Displacing 4750 tons submerged, the thirteen 627s could make thirty knots and carry twenty torpedoes (launched from eight forward tubes). Visually, the 627s resembled a larger version of the Foxtrot class diesel-electric subs; the Soviets would not adopt a teardrop hull until the later Victor class. The Novembers were renowned in the submarine community
for their noise; louder than any contemporary nuclear sub, and even preceding diesel-electric designs.
The Novembers were initially designed with a strategic purpose in mind. The Soviets worked on a long-range nuclear armed torpedo (dubbed T-15), which could strike NATO naval bases from ranges of up to 40km. The torpedo was so large that each submarine could only carry a single weapon. However, increasingly effective Western anti-submarine technology quickly scotched the first mission. The Novembers were too loud to plausibly find their way into close enough proximity to a NATO port to ever actually fire a nuclear torpedo in wartime conditions.
The Soviet Navy (which did not have much interest in the strategic mission at that point) reconfigured the 627 class for a more conventional anti-ship role. Despite their noisiness, the Novembers had the range to threaten NATO surface vessels, especially transport convoys. A small number of nuclear torpedoes (configured with smaller warheads compatible with conventional torpedoes) could wreak havoc on such a convoy, despite the likely loss of the sub to any surviving escorts. The 627s were never regarded as particularly effective sub hunters, in part because they were louder than any foreign contemporaries, and in part because of deficient sonar technology.
K-8: K-8, the third November boat, entered service in the Soviet Northern Fleet in late 1960. In one of her first cruises, she suffered a coolant incident that almost resulted in the loss of the ship; many of her crew members were exposed to high levels of radiation. Drastic action saved the boat, and she returned to port for repairs.
In early spring 1970, K-8 participated in the Okean 70 naval wargame, an exercise intended to display the reach of the Soviet Navy, as well as to work out problems associated with operations distant from Soviet bases. This exercise was enormous; the largest the Soviet Navy had ever undertaken, and really the biggest naval operation that the Russians had attempted since the ill-fated transfer of the Baltic Fleet to the Pacific in the Russo-Japanese War. Ships from the Northern, Baltic, Black Sea, and Pacific fleets participated, roughly two hundred in all. The Soviet Northern Fleet deployed sixty surface ships and forty submarines in support of the operation. As per normal procedure, K-8 was carrying four torpedoes armed with nuclear warheads.
On April 8, K-8 suffered two fires, resulting in a shutdown of both nuclear reactors. The boat surfaced, and Captain Vsevolod Borisovich Bessonov ordered the crew to abandon ship. Eight crew members, trapped in compartments that were either flooded or burned out, died in the initial incident. Fortunately, a Soviet repair vessel arrived, and took K-8 under tow. However, bad weather made the recover operation a difficult prospect. Much of K-8’s crew reboarded the submarine, and for three days fought a life-and-death struggle to save the boat. Although details remain scarce, there apparently was no opportunity to safely remove the four nuclear torpedoes from K-8, and transfer them to the repair ship.
Unfortunately, the loss of power onboard and the difficult weather conditions were too much for the crew to overcome. On April 12, K-8 sank with some forty crew members aboard, coming to rest at a rough depth of 15,000 feet. The depth made any effort at recovering the submarine, and the nuclear torpedoes, impractical.
K-8’s mission was similar to that of the German U-boats she shares the bottom with: the severing of the trans-Atlantic lifeline that kept the United States connected with Western Europe. She used different weapons and could operate at greater ranges than those boats, but her core purpose was the same. Later on, Soviet submarines would adopt a variety of different mission profiles, from anti-submarine warfare to cruise missile launch to (eventually) land attack. The loss of K-8 (along with the several accidents that afflicted her sisters) undoubtedly helped the Soviet Navy learn important lessons about distant operations, if only at extraordinary costs in human lives. And her nuclear torpedoes remain at the bottom, an enduring monument to most dangerous missions of the Cold War.

'Aircraft wings and submarines': World's largest 3D printer launched in Melbourne

16 May 2018

The world's largest metal 3D printer is being put to the test for the first time at a mega-manufacturing warehouse in Melbourne.
An Australian-built metal 3D printer with the potential to manufacturer aircraft wings, ship hulls, submarines and rocket fuselage is shaping as a global game changer.
CSIRO-backed outfit Titomic is set to officially put the world's largest metal 3D printer to test for the first time in front of a crowd at an unveiling ceremony in Melbourne on Wednesday.
Ahead of pushing the start button on the mega-machine, the ASX's sixth-best performing company in 2017 is spruiking the technology as the greatest innovation to hit large-scale metal manufacturing in centuries.
"The reality is when you look at the metals industry nothing's changed fundamentally in 5000 years," Titomic boss Jeff Lang told AAP.
"The Greeks invented the process of digging a resource out of the ground, melting it and folding it into a metal shape.
"When we talk about the standard metal printers, they're still based on that fundamental technology. Our process completely defies that."
Unlike other metal and plastic 3D printers, the CSIRO-patented, cold-spray process - known as Titomic kinetic fusion - accelerates titanium and other particles within a gas-powered jet stream.
Pre-programmed robots then shoot out the metallic mixture at a speed that fuses it onto scaffold material.
"It's a bit like throwing a ball at a wall," Mr Lang said.
"I throw it that hard when that ball hits the wall it'll form out of shape."
The project was born out of a 2007 study as the federal government searched for a way to capitalise on Australia's rich titanium resources rather than simply export the metal.
"Our idea is to sell this technology. To put it on the map and ... push titanium powder," Mr Lang said.
The 40m x 20m machine is able to produce a metal object nine metres long, three metres wide and 1.5 metres high.
But it could be configured to even larger settings.
"It's what we believe is the first in the world at this scale and this capability," Mr Lang said.
"We know the build-speed of the part is 45kg per hour. Generally, the normal metal 3D printer is about 1kg in 24 hours."
The main feature of the technology is its versatility, capable of producing everything from finite medical implants, bicycle frames and luxury luggage to larger automotive, aerospace and defence parts.
However, the ability to fuse different metals is another feather in the printer's oversized cap.
"It means designers and engineers can go back to the drawing board now and imagine parts that were impossible to produce in the past," Mr Lang said.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Australia and France Boost Defence Ties

Staff, Defence Connect
2 May 2018

Australia's Future Submarine Program is set to benefit from an agreement between Thales and Australian and French universities that will explore deeper research collaboration across advanced sonar and naval robotics technology.
Thales signed the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with South Australia's Flinders University and France's graduate and post-graduate engineering school ENSTA Bretagne while French President Emmanuel Macron was in Australia.
The MoU aims to deepen and extend well established research linkages between Australia and France in order to contribute to the future submarine program in Australia.
"This is all about attracting the best and brightest in both Australia and France to work on the challenges of the Future Submarine program, ensuring Australia gets the best capability," Thales Australia CEO Chris Jenkins said.
"The MOU provides a long-term framework for collaboration in naval robotics applicable to both submarine and surface ship sonars, including opportunities to share testing facilities, operate exchange programs and facilitate joint research projects. It builds on an already strong relationship between Thales and Flinders University in Australia as well as between ENSTA Bretagne and Thales in Brest, France."
Discussions between Thales, Flinders University and ENSTA Bretagne have already identified two topics for research collaboration; one to design a demonstrator for the automatic connection of electro-optical links in a maritime environment and the second for the development of USV test vehicles suitable to test autonomy algorithms on robotic swarms at sea.
"This collaboration will build Australian capability, provide internships for both undergraduate and post-graduate Flinders University students in France and contribute to design solutions for the Future Submarine program," said Alexis Morel, vice-president in charge of underwater systems at Thales.
Flinders University Vice-Chancellor Professor Colin Stirling said the University was delighted to be partnering with Thales teams based in Australia and in France.
"This MoU will open up great opportunities for closer collaboration with Thales research laboratories and follows the recent announcement that Flinders University will be one of Thales Australia’s academic partners in the new Defence Cooperative Research Centre (CRC) for Trusted Autonomous Systems."
ENSTA Bretagne director Pascal Pinot stressed the fact the MoU was a necessary base to start new research projects between Flinders University, Thales and ENSTA Bretagne which would in turn reinforce the co-operation between the defence ministries of the two countries.
"The MoU was built in order to lead to tangible research work between us in the short term particularly in the field of underwater robotics. It builds on the strength of all three participants in the framework of the increasing bilateral defence co-operation," Pinot said.

Another Way To Define Nuclear Triad: Three Legs, Plus “Space Capability”

Sandra Erwin, Space News
1 May 2018

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon projects to spend over a trillion dollars in the coming decade on a new generation of nuclear bombers, submarines and intercontinental ballistic missiles that collectively are known as the nuclear triad.
“But the triad is more than a triad,” said Lt. Gen. Jack Weinstein, Air Force deputy chief of staff for strategic deterrence and nuclear integration.
Everyone talks about the vehicles and the weapons, and it’s easy to forget other “vital” components of nuclear modernization, such as the early warning network, and the communications, command and control systems, Weinstein said on Tuesday at a Mitchell Institute event on Capitol Hill.
All of that is entirely dependent on space, he said. “The triad also means space capability.”
Weinstein elaborated: “We need the capability of early warning satellites to know what is going on. We need an unblinking eye to find out what is going on. That unblinking eye is provided by space. We need the capability of military communications, secure military communications satellites, EMP [radiation] hardened communications.”
The classified communications network that keeps the president connected to military forces during a nuclear event — known as NC3 for nuclear command, control and communications — has not “historically been put in the triad but is vital for our defense,” said Weinstein.
The Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review called out NC3 as a system badly in need of modernization, and directed the Joint Staff to consider a new governance structure for the program, now overseen by the Air Force Global Strike Command.
Protecting satellites and signals from jamming or hacking is taking on outsized importance, said the Nuclear Posture Review, as China and Russia are developing means to disrupt and disable U.S. assets in space.
“I can talk all day about the importance of NC3,” said Weinstein. “The president has to communicate with forces. We need command posts that can take over those missions. Then you need the processes and procedures so that crew members know that a message is authentic and valid,” he said. “That is foundational to this nuclear force.”
The Joint Staff review of NC3 was due to be presented to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis May 1. U.S. Strategic Command’s Gen. John Hyten also has been closely involved in the review as he is responsible for defining the requirements of the system.
The NC3 includes warning satellites and radars; communications satellites, aircraft, and ground stations; fixed and mobile command posts; and the control centers for nuclear systems. The Nuclear Posture Review said many of these systems use antiquated technology that has not been modernized in almost three decades.
There are central questions that need to be answered, said Weinstein. “What should that future architecture look like? We are modernizing systems now and need to make sure we have connectivity into AEHF satellites.” AEHF are classified communications satellites that can be used for both conventional and nuclear missions.
The Air Force has programs under way to modernize communications and early-warning satellites. How these future constellations will be integrated with NC3 is one piece of the enormously complex architecture.
The Congressional Budget Office has estimated that modernizing the NC3 will cost $58 billion over 10 years.
Hyten said modernizing the NC3 is critical because a decade from now the Pentagon will start rolling out the next generation of nuclear bombers, missiles and submarines whose command and control systems most certainly will not be compatible with a network designed in the 1960s.
The future ground-based leg of the triad — known as the ground-based strategic deterrence — will be a network of 400 missile silos that require redundant and assured communications. The current Minuteman 3 nuclear missile silos are spread across three Air Force bases and connected by 30,000 miles of copper wire buried deep beneath the ground. It’s highly reliable but low bandwidth communications.
The contractors that are competing for the potentially $50 billion to $60 billion GBSD program — Boeing and Northrop Grumman — have to come up with options for upgrading communications for cyber security but also to improve Air Force crews’ quality of life in their underground bunkers.
Weinstein said the Air Force is increasing the cyber and space-related portion of the curriculum for officers in the nuclear career field. “We need a next generation of leaders that can talk about this,” he said of the broader policy and technology issues associated with nuclear modernization. “The atrophy that happened a few years ago when we weren’t modernizing the nuclear force, when we did that there was a lack of strategic thinking,” Weinstein said. “Human capital development is more important than when you just talk about things.”
The training of the force is not a concern, he said. “We know how to train people. I’m talking about educating the workforce, civilians too,” he added. “Everyone in the U.S. Air Force needs to understand the value of the nuclear force, just like everyone in the U.S. Air Force needs to understand the value of the space force. … Strategic deterrence in the 21st century is more than just nuclear. It’s space, cyber and conventional.’

The US Military Wants Giant Transformer Robot Subs

Patrick Tucker, Defense One
1 May 2018

DENVER, Colorado — Want to de-mine a patch of ocean floor in hostile waters, deposit classified payloads off an enemy coast, shut off a broken oil valve, or just fight krakens? Texas-based startup Houston Mechatronics on Tuesday unveiled a giant, transforming robotic submarine, partially backed by the Defense Department, for deep-sea precision missions.
The Aquanaut unmanned underwater vehicle, or UUV, can chug beneath the ocean’s surface for hundreds of kilometers and then transform into a vaguely insect-like robot to perform delicate operations in the watery depths. Its biggest backers are players in the oil and gas exploration like Transocean, which are looking to better maintain oil rigs, offshore equipment, and help with operations. Houston Mechatronics co-founder and chief technical officer Nicholas Radford said the robots might would travel from site to site, like a frog swimming from one lily pad to another without ever having to be pulled out of the water. “‘We intend to blanket the Gulf of Mexico,” he said.
While big oil is the primary investor, the Defense Department — through a cooperative research and development agreement with the Navy — is also supporting the project. Radford expects additional financial funding from other sources within the military soon. The near-term objective is counter-mine missions “in area-denied water, or where you don’t want the presence of a top-side vessel,” he said.
The robot, which can extend from 2.87 meters to 3.5 meters with its arms out, can travel hundreds of kilometers between sites. Once the arms come out, the operator directs the puppet show over an acoustic modem with a range of tens of kilometers.
“Autonomy is a big deal,” especially for military customers, said Radford, but added that for the difficult arm manipulation operations, “We think you can get higher realizations of value in theatre with a human still in the loop [operating the robot] at a low data rate.”